Jan Macháček


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Czech Business Weekly

Relief as Kubice panel says it like it is

30. 04. 2007
So, some of those who claimed the leaking of police Colonel Jan Kubice’s report opened a dark, grimy domain of links between organized crime and the state administration may have choked on their pivo last week.

Out came the conclusion of a special nonpartisan expert commission organized by the attorney general. No proof, no reliable revelations, it said, adding that the report contained no dependable evidence that Social Democrat (ČSSD) politicians attempted to interfere with police investigations into the mafia.

It’s a refreshing intervention. The commission’s work proves that, fortunately, we don’t live in a police state, where attorneys and judges work according to the demands of those in power.

Pulses were set racing when Kubice, head of the elite Office for the Detection of Organized Crime (ÚOOZ), presented his supposedly secret report to a parliamentary committee a few days before last year’s elections. Hardly had the committee risen when reporters got hold of the report causing a furious ČSSD to fulminate that the colonel had entered into a conspiracy with top Civic Democrat (ODS) figures, like current Interior Minister Ivan Langer, to wound it before the vote.

No doubt many in the present ODS-led government hoped the commission would issue damaging findings. But its verdict instead proves that attorney general office experts have the courage to reveal truths inconvenient to those in power. It’s good news for the rule of law in this country. And if it’s correct that nobody attempted to manipulate the commission, it’s even better news.

ČSSD will now push for Langer’s resignation and the ODS will counterattack. The consequences could kill any chance of ČSSD supporting anything in the Topolánek government’s reform package. And the country’s political war will continue unabated with all the attendant costs for the ordinary Joe Blow.

Get out of here

Up steps Deputy PM Jiří Čunek. He takes his seat on a Prima TV discussion program and sets out to prove he’s not a racist. “Social exclusion,” he unbelievingly tells us, “doesn’t only concern Romany people, it is also about normal people.”

The next thing we hear is the news that this Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) leader, already under investigation for corruption, has made a serious mistake in his politician’s property declaration.

Racist? Corrupt? Maybe we should actually be questioning this guy’s intelligence. He speaks no foreign languages and has never taken a lengthy trip abroad. And his crass comments stink to high heaven.

This isn’t a man who should be in charge of tens of billions of crowns of EU structural funds. He’s extremely dangerous and he’s certainly not ministerial material.

Reforming or deforming?

We have to wonder if the government’s reform package is based on any coherent concept. Small and medium-sized firms are set to be bashed by a rule barring the discounting of loan interest payments of more than 6 percent from the tax base. It’s obvious discrimination. These firms, particularly start-ups, usually have to pay such rates because they can’t offer the credit history that the big companies can.

Perhaps the concept is, “Oh, we need a billion here and a billion there, so somebody quickly come up with something, anything, we’ll give it a go.”

If they’re not a bit more prudent, a wheel’s going to come off.

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