The former deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Czech
Republic (ÚZSI) Zdeněk Blahut has been charged with fraud and abuse of
office, the Public Prosecutor's Office in Prague reported on Friday.
No further details were released.
According to the news site idnes.cz Blahut’s detention is part of an ongoing investigation into the financial management of the Foreign Intelligence Service. The news site claims the police also questioned the former head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Jiří Šašek and the former interior minister Milan Chovanec, who appointed Blahut to office. Chovanec later dismissed the claim.
The Foreign Intelligence Service’s principal goal is to provide foreign intelligence vital for the security and protection of the Czech Republic’s foreign policy interests and economic interests.
Blahut served as its deputy head from September 2014 until January of this year.
On the occasion of the 30-year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which
led to the fall of communism in November 1989, the Czech Senate will hold
three conferences, the speaker of the upper house Jaroslav Kubera told
journalists on Wednesday.
These will not only focus on the Velvet Revolution, but two further events that took place during the last two months of 1989 – the canonisation of St. Agnes of Bohemia and the reestablishment of the Czech Scouts movement. According to Senate Speaker Kubera the reason behind organising the three conferences is the current relativizing of the values and heritage of November 17, 1989 and the Senate’s role as a guarantor of the constitutional order.
President Miloš Zeman is due to remain in office until early 2023. But that hasn’t stopped names of possible successors already appearing in the media. Mr. Zeman’s defeated opponent in last year’s runoff, Jiří Drahoš, says a second run is definitely “in play”, while ex-sports star Dominik Hašek has also signalled his interest.
The legendary Czech ice hockey goaltender Dominik Hašek, dubbed The
Dominator, has not ruled out running for president, when Miloš Zeman’s
second term in office expires in 2023.
Hašek said in an interview for Radio Impuls that he could well imagine himself in the top post, although he was not actively preparing for such a move now. “Who knows what may happen in three years’ time - anything is possible,” he told the radio host.
In his 16-season National Hockey League career, Hašek played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators.
During the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, he led the Czech national ice hockey team to its first and only Olympic gold medal. The crowds at home welcomed him with the chant “Hašek na Hrad” or “Hašek at Prague Castle”. He retired in 2012.
The Senate has passed a draft law that would make it easier for the
children and grandchildren of exiles from Communist Czechoslovakia to
obtain Czech citizenship.
The legislation pertains to descendants of Czechs stripped of their Czechoslovak citizenship prior to 1989. Applicants must provide documentation detailing when and how their parent or grandparent lost their citizenship in order to be eligible.
The bill, which went through several readings in both houses of Parliament, must be signed by the president to become law.
According to the Interior Ministry, the change in law could lead to applications from hundreds of people, including families of former Czechoslovak citizens living in crisis-torn Venezuela.
The upper house of Czech Parliament voted in favour of a proposal for a
constitutional complaint against President Miloš Zeman. The proposal
received 48 votes on Wednesday, while 20 senators voted against and 7
abstained. If the proposal also receives support from the majority of the
lower house, it will reach the constitutional court. However, this is
unlikely, due to the ruling ANO-Social Democrat coalition, supported by the
Communist Party, holding a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. The Freedom
and Direct Democracy Party, which seems likely to support the president as
well, controls a further 19 seats.
The impulse for the draft complaint is the alleged influencing of the judiciary by President Zeman and his staff. The president’s recent unwillingness to accept the resignation of Culture Minister Antonín Staněk has also been added into the complaint.
In mid-June President Zeman dismissed the accusation, saying that it was a sign of constitutional illiteracy.
The Communist Party leadership is due to meet with representatives of the
ANO party on Tuesday to assess to what extent the minority government of
ANO and the Social Democrats is fulfilling the tolerance agreement with the
Communists which has enabled it to govern.
The Communist Party has tolerated the government in return for policy concessions and support for its own stated policy priorities, such as a tax on church restitutions and increased expenditures in the social sphere.
The Communist Party has so far shown no indication that it might withdraw this support over the scandals surrounding the prime minister or the drawn-out crisis concerning the culture minister.
The opposition parties have criticized the drawn-out political conflict,
calling it a theatre of the absurd and arguing that the present government
is harming the country’s interests by a never–ending series of scandals
that prevents it from focussing on the country’ real problems.
The head of the Pirate Party, Ivan Bartoš, says it is not the culture minister who is at the core of the problem, but Prime Minister Andrej Babiš who is suspected of EU subsidy fraud and unwilling to stand up to the president.
Miroslav Kalousek, head of the TOP 09 deputies group in the lower house, argues that the present head of state has no respect for the Constitution and is being left to do as he will.
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