Czech top officials have publicly distanced themselves from Communist Party
MP Zdeňek Ondráček’s visit to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s
Republic this week. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told journalists on
Thursday that the visit was not in accordance with Czech foreign policy.
His statement came a day after Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček
critisized Mr. Ondráček’s visit on Twitter, saying his actions were
shameful and damaging to the Czech Republic.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies met for a special session to debate the matter on Thurday, distancing itself from the visit and emphasizing that the Czech Republic does not recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and considers it a part of Ukraine.
Mr. Ondráček insists his trip was “private", but a video shows him being welcomed by the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in what looks like an official ceremony.
The General Police Inspectorate has charged a police officer from the
Regional Directorate in Prague and two other individuals with illegal
wildlife trade, the Czech News Agency reported on Friday.
The suspects allegedly attempted to sell the horn of a critically
endangered rhino on the Asian market, which could have brought them over
two million crowns. If found guilty, they would face up to five years in
The sale and purchase of rhino horns has been banned worldwide since 1977 within measures to protect the endangered species. The horn powder is sought after mainly in Asia, where traditional medicine lends it therapeutic and aphrodisiac powers.
The Chamber of Deputies voted on Wednesday not to lift the parliamentary
immunity of Communist MP Zdeněk Ondráček so that police could pursue
defamation charges against him, lodged by former Presidential candidate
Horáček filed the charges in response to claims Ondráček made during the presidential campaign that he had collaborated with the Communist-era secret police (StB) and worked as an illegal moneychanger.
According to Ondráček, documents show that the StB had given Horáček the codename of “Sázkař”, which translates into English as “bookmaker” or “punter”.
The government has approved the appointment of state attorney Radim Dragoun
as head of the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces. Prime Minister
Babis should officially appoint him to office on September 1st.
Dragoun said his task would be to stabilize the force, prevent information leaks, increase trust among its members and improve communication with state attorneys.
The inspectorate’s former director Michal Murín left his post at the end of April following criticism from the prime minister.
The inspectorate investigates crimes committed by members of the police.
The head of the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces Michal Murín
is leaving his post on April 30.
Mr. Murín, who has been under pressure from Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to resign, announced his decision earlier this month saying that although he had done nothing illegal or unethical his continued presence at the head of the inspectorate would undoubtedly throw a negative light on its work.
The outgoing government is due to consider a suitable temporary head on Monday. The next head of the police oversight agency should be chosen in an open competition.
A meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday addressed the
situation at the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces (GIBS), after
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said he had lost faith in its head Michal
Murín and doubted his moral and professional authority.
Mr Babiš said his concerns were based on documents of the Supreme State Office in Olomouc, which cannot be made public and with which he would acquaint members of the National Security Council.
Meanwhile, Michal Murín, who said last week that the prime minister had pressured him to resign and threatened his with a scandal if he did not, presented his case to members of Parliament’s Security Committee. The hearing took place behind closed doors.
Organizers of the protests against the Communist MP Zdeněk Ondráček, who
was appointed chairman of the lower house committee overseeing the General
Inspectorate of the Security Forces, delivered their petition to the lower
house on Wednesday.
Mr Ondráček, who beat protesters as a riot squad officer prior to the Velvet Revolution which overthrew the communist regime in 1989, has already announced he would step down from the post following massive protests on Monday in Prague, Brno and other Czech cities.
The organizers of the petition have collected more than 14,000 signatures so far.
On Friday Zdeněk Ondráček was elected chairman of the lower house committee that oversees the agency that investigates police malpractice. The move sparked plans for street demonstrations due to Mr. Ondráček’s past as a pre-1989 riot policeman. Now, however, ANO, who helped the Communist win the post, are set to remove him.
Governments in resignation usually uphold a pledge not to take key decisions for the remainder of their mandate. But that hasn’t stopped the prime minister. Instead, he had doubled down on his intent to force the head of GIBs, the national police inspectorate, to resign. So far, the official has dug in his heels but the matter is promising heat up even more in the coming days.
Support for the election of Communist Party MP Zdeněk Ondráček to head
the lower house’s committee overseeing the General Inspection of the
Security Services should not be part of talks on forming a new government,
Radek Vondráček of ANO said on a TV discussion show on Sunday.
Controversy has surrounded efforts to install Mr. Ondráček in the post,
given the fact the inspection body oversees the police and he took part in
a crackdown on protesters in 1989 while a member of a Communist-era riot
Mr. Vondráček’s view was echoed by Jan Hamáček of the Social Democrats, who said talks on forming a government should focus on that topic alone.