It appears Minister of Defense Alexandr Vondra (Civic Democrats, ODS) has at the last minute managed to avoid yet another scandal over military orders. Czech military intelligence planned to buy three Jackal armored cars reportedly for service in Afghanistan. Vondra cancelled the order on the grounds of the planned withdrawal of Czech troops from Afghanistan.
Martin Barták, widely presumed to have been charged by anti-corruption police for attempted fraud and bribery in the military’s Kč 2.6 billion order for Tatra all-terrain trucks in 2006, says the charges against him are flawed, trumped up and politicized — and key witnesses like ex-US Amb. William J Cabaniss can’t even recall basic details of the alleged bribery attempt.
A series of cables from the US embassy in Prague show ambassadors and top officials struggling to comprehend the size and scope of Czech corruption, according to dispatches leaked this week by the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks. Czech citizens were getting increasingly angry but did not seem prepared to kick out the tarnished politicians and parties, the sometimes prescient cables add.
A leaked cable from the US Embassy in Prague from mid-2005 shows how the then-ambassador tried to propose a way of easing delays or refusals of ammunition shipments from the Czech Republic to trouble spots Iraq and Afghanistan. The US government and contractors wanted the surplus Soviet-era ammunition, but the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs sometimes refused permission or delayed shipments with extra questions.