Slowly but surely, Czech PM Petr Nečas is seeking to consolidate his position within the main coalition party, the Civic Democrats (ODS). His deadlines for doing so are the October regional and Senate elections, which even party optimists expect to result in a thrashing for the center-right party. A weeks-long investigation by Czech Position shows how Nečas will hold on to power.
Speculation is culminating around the future of the Czech Republic’s ambassador to the European Union, Milena Vicenová, in the high-profile and prestigious post and her likely replacement. Czech Position has drawn up from political and diplomatic sources the names of three of the front runners who could replace her: Martin Povejšil, Martin Tlapa and Jana Reinišová.
Czech state-controlled aviation maintenance, repairs and modernisation company LOM Praha seems to have lost Kč 100 million from a quickly sealed deal to sell four helicopters to the STV Group when a better deal was on the table. The circumstances surrounding the deal have prompted a police probe although LOM says it has nothing to hide.
The Visapoint system for processing applications for Czech visas has been targeted by organized crime groups who have managed to effectively hijack the system and are taking payments to register foreign applicants. Many would-be applicants attempting to apply for a Czech visa according to the prescribed Visapoint procedure have found the system completely booked for months on end.
Under Czech law, a person planning to steal from the state need not fear arrest. If police learn of a scheme to illegally manufacture cigarettes, until the production line actually starts no one can be charged with a crime. This shortcoming of the new Criminal Code became all too clear when police had to shelve a corruption case brought by whisteblower Libor Michálek even though it led to a minister’s resignation.
Justice, Education, Interior, Health and Defense: Five ministries whose leaders are most frequently mentioned as likely candidates for the chopping block. In recent weeks, numerous politicians and state officials have told Czech Position that a Cabinet reshuffle is looming while noting that Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS) himself is not pushing for the dismissal of any ministers, he may be left with no choice.
Czech police president Petr Lessy has responded to proposed reforms of the police drawn up by a Ministry of Interior expert commission headed by his predecessor, Oldřich Tomášek, which criticizes practically all areas of the functioning of the police. Lessy did so by posting his reservations towards the proposed changes on the ministry’s internal website, accessible by thousands of employees.
Czechs have come to expect inflated prices in public procurement deals, but even the most cynical observers were taken aback by the Defense Ministry’s purchase of four CASA C-295M transport planes. Nondisclosure clauses prevent scrutiny of the real costs, but Czech Position has obtained documents that confirm suspicions of grossly inflated prices on the CASA deal.
Following the resignation of detective Petr Krömer, ill-reputed detective Václav Němec is to lead the investigation into suspected corruption involving Czech truck manufacturer Tatra, a source has told Czech Position. Both the departure of Krömer and others, and the assigning of Němec to the case have alarmed police colleagues and raised doubts about the integrity of the Tatra investigation.
The standoff between Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over who should represent the Czech Republic in negotiations at the European Union level has yet to be resolved. According to Czech Position’s sources, intense negotiations on the issue are being held within the government, and the outcome should be known within two weeks.
Reporter for ČESKÁ POZICE. He specializes in diplomacy, security policy, European integrations and politics in the Czech Republic. He studied at the Philosophical Faculty and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, later working in the European Commission for the foundation Ano pro Evropu (Yes for Europe) and as a reporter for the weekly Euro.