The state intelligence agency Security Information Service (BIS) has not sufficiently monitored the activities of the private security agency ABL, claims former Interior Minister František Bublan (ČSSD). As a result, the de facto leader of Public Affairs (VV) and ex-Transport Minister Vít Bárta — ABL’s founder — was able to systematically make use of his business for political objectives and vice versa.
Public Affairs (VV) de facto leader Vít Bárta, who resigned as transport minister in the wake of allegations of corruption and further evidence his old security firm spied on politicians, recently performed a “financial striptease” in the name of transparency in government. What he didn’t reveal is how he partly avoided paying corporate income tax via some creative remuneration and accounting practices.
Vít Bárta resigned as transport minister on Friday afternoon, saying that he didn’t want the accusations of corruption against him to damage his party or the functioning of the ruling coalition. PM Petr Nečas promptly accepted Bárta’s resignation and called upon President Václav Klaus to follow suit; nevertheless, Bárta still intends to run for the post of Public Affairs (VV) chairman in May.
The Prague nightclub Abaton is advertising what it claims will be the “roughest party in town” on April 16. Piercing, piercing chains, scarring, branding, hanging on hooks, bondage, fetish S&M, latex, blood, pain, hardcore music… But the posters and flyers are misleading. The roughest party is playing out in Parliament, with Public Affairs (VV) de facto boss Vít Bárta calling the tunes.
The Rail Safety Inspection Office (DI ČR) has no shortage of specific examples to draw attention to the serious condition of rail track and equipment in need of repair in the Czech Republic. But its habit of highlighting these faults seems to have made it powerful enemies in the Transport Ministry and jeopardized its very existence.
Public Affairs (VV) began to fall apart in a very public way on Thursday. Deputy chairwoman and parliamentary group leader Kristýna Kočí was expelled from the party after filing a criminal complaint against Transport Minister Vít Bárta, the party paymaster, that he had given some her some Kč 500,000 in cash, presumably to buy her loyalty. In total, three VV parliamentary deputies have now been expelled from the party in the so-called “cash for loyalty” affair.
Public Affairs was elected to parliament for the first time in the general election last summer on the back of an election campaign based on an anti-corruption crusade and shake-up of the staid and jaded world of Czech politics. However, in the nine months that the party has been in power its top leaders have figured in an unenviable record of controversies and scandals that sometimes appear as a never ending comedy of errors.
Even before the “cash for loyalty” scandal, public support for the junior coalition partner Public Affairs (VV) and its top leaders, Interior Minister Radek John and Transport Minister Vít Bárta, had fallen significantly since the May 2010 elections, when the party got 10.88 percent of the popular vote. John has gone from being the most favorably ranked politician to being the second-most untrusted.
The Jaroslav Škárka affair has formed a slippery slide into the depths of political oblivion. The question is who will end up there. After the parliamentary deputies of Public Affairs (VV) expelled him on Tuesday evening for breaking the party’s code of ethics and bringing the party into disrepute, Škárka announced he would present indisputable evidence back his claim that he had received cash payments from Transport Minister Vít Bárta, the VV first deputy chairman.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta (Public Affairs, VV) has been rewarding party colleagues for their support with cash payments, the weekly Respekt reports in its Monday edition, citing a recording of comments by Jaroslav Škárka, the party’s statuary representative. Škárka now claims he intentionally “mystified” the journalist when he discovered she was making a surreptitious recording.