Czech mate? PM Petr Necas faces lurid claims after raids

By Rob Cameron
BBC News

Image source, AFP/MICHAL CIZEK
Image caption,
Petr Necas and his wife Radka Necasova have announced they are to divorce

Petr Necas is not having a good week.

On Tuesday the 49-year-old prime minister announced his marriage was over. He and his wife of 25 years, he said, had agreed to an uncontested divorce.

Late on Wednesday night, armed police from the anti-organised crime unit arrived at the offices of the government. They arrested several people, including one of his closest political - and personal - aides.

On Thursday, the raids continued. Detectives searched more government buildings, private businesses and banks - seizing documents, money and even bars of gold.

Now Czech newspapers are claiming the prime minister himself is accused of bribing former MPs in his party - allegations he categorically denies.

It is certainly Mr Necas's biggest crisis in his three years in office. The question is: can he survive?


"The Czech Republic has never experienced anything like this," Jindrich Sidlo, chief commentator with the Czech financial daily Hospodarske Noviny told the BBC.

"After years of political pressure on the police and prosecutors, what we are witnessing today is their emancipation - an emancipation which has spun out of control," he said.

"It's an irony of fate that it was the Necas government itself which allowed this emancipation - and it is the Necas government which could now fall because of it.

"The current situation is untenable."

Several Czech newspapers claim to have seen copies of police files detailing the charges, which include bribery and abuse of office. Two major strands are emerging in this investigation.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Jana Nagyova is a long-standing aide to Petr Necas

The first is the allegation that the prime minister offered posts in semi state-owned companies to three MPs in his Civic Democratic Party, in exchange for their resignations from parliament.

The three were at the forefront of a rebellion against him over VAT increases. They later stood down.

Bribery claims

The deal was allegedly brokered by the head of Mr Necas's office Jana Nagyova - who was arrested on Thursday along with two of the former MPs.

Prosecutors claim the deal constituted bribery.

The second is the allegation that Ms Nagyova illegally ordered the country's military intelligence service to spy on three private individuals.

It is now being widely reported - although not yet confirmed by police or prosecutors - that one of them was the prime minister's estranged wife.

Ms Nagyova has been a close colleague of the prime minister for almost a decade; tabloid newspapers claim that they are romantically linked, and she plays a major role in his impending divorce.

Mr Necas has responded angrily to the allegations and denied all wrongdoing.

'Theatrical' arrests

Neither he nor his colleagues, including Ms Nagyova, had done anything wrong, he said.

Speaking in parliament, he said the massive police operation - involving up to 400 officers - had damaged the country's reputation abroad.

The "theatrical" arrests of Ms Nagyova and the current and former heads of military intelligence were particularly damaging, he said.

So far the prime minister is refusing to budge, perhaps gambling that his coalition partners are not yet ready to bring down the government.

The opposition is clamouring for early elections; a vote of no-confidence could be held in parliament next week.

It will be a difficult weekend for the prime minister - and perhaps his last in the post.

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