Bribery, lie detectors and bad sandwiches

I’ve been meaning to post about some of the various goings on in Czech news, but there haven’t been too many stories to really engage me as of late.

The one that has interested me involves allegations of bribery, lie detectors and bad sandwiches.

It’s a well-known fact that the government of Social Democrat Prime Minister Stanislav Gross hangs by a one-vote majority in Parliament. It’s also a well-known fact that the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) would love to see this government fall. To use a Czech term, ‘evil tongues’ say the big reason for that is that the ODS would like to get their hands on some of the spoils from the major privatizations in play, like Czech Telecom.

A few weeks ago, an MP from the coalition Freedom Union (US) came forward and said he was approached by ODS representatives and essentially offered a bribe for voting against the government. The bribe may have involved cash and fabulous prizes, or it may have involved a diplomatic posting to Bulgaria – OK, let’s strike the ‘fabulous prizes’ part of that sentence.

The MP, Zdeněk Kořistka, took a lie detector test and passed. The ODS ‘representatives’ in question were actually ‘lobbyists’ and ‘advisers’ close enough to party chairman Mirek Topolánek to give him plausible deniability.

Two of the ‘advisers’ were taken into police custody, where they said the food in Ostrava’s jail was pretty good, but that they only got a sandwich in Prague. They were later released, but still don’t want to take the lie detector test.

President Klaus, who as we all know is completely impartial in his office even though the last parliamentary campaign was based almost entirely on the equation “Klaus=ODS”, has called Kořistka ‘not totally reliable’ and then refused to apologize for the remark.

In an excellent non-denial denial, Topolánek said “I’ve never provoked anyone into offering a bribe, especially not a cretin like Kořistka.”

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