The former leader of the Greens (SZ) who presided over the Czech party’s historic first entry into the lower house of parliament after the 2006 general elections and was later named environment minister told the magazine Týden this week he plans to contest for the post this autumn — and would like to have the current party leader on his team.
MPs overseeing the Czech domestic spy service (BIS) convened last week to assess the ongoing investigation into a high-profile scandal that has rocked the Civic Democrats: the release of incriminating taped phone conversations from 2007 between the controversial Prague “ODS godfather” lobbyist Roman Janoušek and then mayor Pavel Bém. PM Petr Nečas and his predecessor, Mirek Topolánek, were conspicuously absent.
Outspoken Student Agency founder Radim Jančura has sought to bust Czech Railways’ virtual monopoly and often clashed with local and national politicians, and administrations, not always keen to see a new competitor on the block. In an exclusive interview, he attacks the Czech competition office for failing to perform its anti-graft role, and points an accussing finger at the ministers of labor and finance – sparking legal proceedings against him for slander.
Czech politics is abuzz over a grand mystery. Who leaked the conversations of ex-Prague mayor Pavel Bém (ODS) and ‘godfather’ lobbyist Roman Janoušek to the media? Czech Position examines the clues and motives. From dozens of meetings with politicians, the security community, senior government officials and businessmen, five names and constructions take shape.
When the Czech domestic intelligence service BIS conducted an investigation into the controversial lobbyist and businessman Roman Janoušek back in 2007, its agents discovered that he was in contact with then-police president Vladislav Husák. In telephone conversations legally tapped by BIS agents, however, the two only ever spoke about arranging a meeting place.
Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl and Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa were in close contact with Roman Janoušek, dubbed the ‘gray eminence’ of the Prague chapter of the Civic Democrats (ODS), when they were, respectively, Central Bohemia governor and Prague 6 mayor, the server DenikInsider.cz reports. The revelation widens the scope of suspected cronyism within the center-right party.
Frustrated with the state of corruption in Czech politics, Andrej Babiš, one of the country’s richest entrepreneurs, last year founded the political movement ANO 2011, which plans to register as a party and put forward candidates in upcoming elections. In an exclusive interview with Czech Position, he speaks about cronyism in Prague City Hall under former mayor Pavel Bém (ODS) and the influence of lobbyists like Roman Janoušek and “mafias” on the political landscape.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Czech elections — the anonymous mock billboards making fun of individual leaders or party promises — will be banned under new proposals for election campaigns and party funding, which will create a new state body to keep check on both.
The Czech constitution calls for competing political parties within a democratic framework, but the parties often forget the voters’ right to choose and that past success is no guarantee for the future. The Civic Democrats (ODS) have failed to heed increasing voter disillusionment and are ready to roll out a bland, empty election campaign for the fall Senate and regional elections. For this they will be punished, warns Bohumíl Studýnka.
According to Czech Position’s information, the daily Mladá fronta dnes is in possession of a total of 40 minutes of recordings of conversations between ex-Prague mayor Pavel Bém and lobbyist Roman Janoušek and politicians from the Civic Democrats (ODS). But while what has been published is only a fraction of the content — and the public cannot expect to hear more — that is not the fundamental concern.