Last week, a coalition pact between the Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents parties appeared on the brink of collapse after the Christian Democrats invited their coalition partners to run on the Christian Democrat ballot in the autumn elections. But on Tuesday, the smaller party instead voted to go-it-alone.
Prague’s Supreme Court has handed a five-year jail term to Marek Dalík, who was found guilty of attempting to solicit a bribe in connection with a military hardware contract while he was an advisor to then prime minister Mirek Topolanek. Mr. Dalík was previously sentenced to four years for the same offence but was freed earlier this year over formal shortcomings in the original trial. His latest conviction came despite a change in his testimony. He was accused of seeking a bribe of CZK 50,000,000 from the company Steyr in 2007 to smooth a deal to buy armoured carriers for the Czech Army.
The police have charged MPs Josef Novotný of the Social Democrats and Jaroslav Borek of the Communist Party with the abuse of European Union subsidies. The move comes a month after the Chamber of Deputies voted to lift their parliamentary immunity in connection with the case, which centres on a regional fund in northwest Bohemia. Two dozen others, including former senator Alexandr Novák and former regional governor Jana Vaňhová, are also facing trial. Several people have already been convicted over the matter.
A trial centred on the alleged offering of bribes to politicians begins at the Prague 1 district court on Thursday. Petr Nečas, his now wife and former senior assistant Jana Nečasová and ex-deputy agriculture minister Roman Boček are accused of offering “jobs for the boys” to three then Civic Democrat MPs in exchange for their support of legislation in 2012, when Mr. Nečas was party leader and prime minister. The case helped lead to the fall of Mr. Nečas’s government the following year. Civic Democrats Marek Šnajdr, Ivan Fuksa and Petr Tluchoř resigned as MPs shortly after opposing their party on a crucial vote, allowing the government to survive. Two of them received lucrative posts at state companies soon afterwards.
The Czech Republic should step up its efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery, according to a new OECD report released on Thursday. The report, which evaluates the country’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Politician in International Business Transactions, says Prague must improve its system combating foreign bribery, especially in view of the country’s export-oriented economy. Seventeen years after ratifying the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, the Czech Republic has yet to prosecute a case involving the bribery of foreign public officials.
President Miloš Zeman has appointed Stanislav Štech as Czech minister of education, youth and sports. Mr. Štech, who is 62, is a Charles University psychology professor and a former deputy minister of education. He replaces the Social Democratic Party’s Kateřina Valachová, who announced her resignation after one of her deputies was charged with large-scale corruption involving sports subsidies.
The Czech Republic will set up a consulate in Manchester in order to improve services for the public and handle a growing number of requests for Czech citizenship in the wake of Brexit, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek told journalists on Wednesday. The proposal has been approved by the government and the consulate should begin operating at the start of next year. There are presently some 100,000 Czechs living in Great Britain and approximately 300,000 Czechs visit the country every year. At present consular services are only provided by the Czech Embassy in London.
The police have arrested three people on suspicion of manipulating public tenders for work on the premises of the president’s summer residence Lany Chateau. The three are employees of Lesní správa Lány, an organization administering close to six hectares of land and forests which belong to the Office of the President. They are said to have manipulated public tenders worth 60 million crowns. The police allegedly raided the office of the organization and employees' private homes. The Office of the President has not so far commented on the development.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says he has been disquieted by the arrests made during demonstrations in Russia on Monday. Mr. Sobotka said people had the right to express their views without being detained and called on the Moscow government to respect freedom of expression and assembly. Russian police arrested over 1,000 people at anti-corruption rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, while the opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained at his home before they got underway.
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