Karlovy Vary governor asks the Czech intelligence service to help clear hisname

Are there Russian mafiosi in the renowned spa town of Karlovy Vary? The locals have been speculating about the matter for years - ever since nouveau riche Russians started buying up vast estates and property in the historic West Bohemian spa town. Now the regional governor wants to know the answer to that question - and has asked the Czech intelligence service to provide him with an answer.

The governor of Karlovy Vary Josef Pavel, photo: CTKThe governor of Karlovy Vary Josef Pavel, photo: CTK It is a city that has hosted kings and poets - known as Carlsbad west of the Czech Republic's borders. Now a local paper is asking whether Karlovy Vary has become a city of mafiosi and potentially - terrorists. In a recently published article the paper accuses the governor of pandering to money and caring little who he sells the city's property to. This follows the sale of a grandiose local villa to a Russian-owned firm, which some say has very dubious credentials.According to the paper it is the latest in a series of such sales.

Affronted, the governor of Karlovy Vary Josef Pavel has asked the BIS - the Czech intelligence service to clear up the matter, and establish whether there is a Russian mafia in the town, or whether it is just anti-Russian prejudice.

"If there is a Russian mafia in Karlovy Vary I want to know who these people are," he told journalists.

He had hoped for a statement that would put an end to the speculation but the BIS made it clear that whatever it uncovered it would not be reporting back to the governor. "It is most unusual for us to be contacted in this manner," the BIS spokesman said in reference to the governor's request. The intelligence service will now launch an investigation and report directly to the interior minister. It will be up to him to decide whether or not he will brief the Karlovy Vary governor about the result. Asked by RP to comment the governor said he would not say another word about the matter until he has seen the results of the investigation. He claims that he has a moral right to information since he himself was a target of the alleged anti corruption squad Mlyn, which has now got the Prime Minister into hot water because no one knows how it operated or what it uncovered.