The ruling coalition leaders in Czechia do not see any reason for remaking the government because of the ongoing corruption scandal, known as the “Dosimeter case,” Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Tuesday.
Education Minister Petr Gazdík of Fiala’s coalition partner, STAN, resigned earlier this week due to his connection to the case, while Interior Minister Vít Rakušan reportedly retains the trust of the Czech prime minister. STAN wants to present the new candidate for the education minister by the end of the week, according to Rakušan.
“We have agreed that we see no reason to rebuild the government and take steps like that,” Fiala said. Interior Minister Rakušan has the “absolute confidence” of the coalition leaders when it comes to the impartiality of the investigation of the case and its fair result, the prime minister added
Rakušan was pleased that the leaders of the ODS, Christian Democrats, TOP 09, and Pirates expressed their confidence in him, and has assured them that the Dosimeter case will be resolved consistently and according to the zero-tolerance principle.
The Dosimeter case
In the ongoing Dosimeter case, according to the police, the organized group of 13 men systematically occupied key positions in the city-owned Prague Transport Company so that the appointment of friendly managers could influence various tenders and obtain bribes from the winning companies. Among the accused are former Deputy Mayor of Prague Petr Hlubuček, whose membership in STAN was suspended due to the case, and businessman Michal Redl.
Gazdík left office because of his contacts with Redl, although he is not under investigation himself. According to Rakušan, these contacts were difficult to explain in the context of the Dosimeter case.
For many years, Hlubuček was an influential man within STAN. The true extent of Redl’s influence in STAN is unknown. His father donated 700,000 korunas (€28,000) to the party in 2016. In 2014, Redl’s associate Pavel Kos, who has also been accused in the Dosimeter case, donated 350,000 korunas (€14,000).
How much did Rakušan know?
Last week, Rakušan proclaimed that he knew nothing about Hlubuček’s activities. Yesterday, however, he changed his tune, writing on Twitter that he had no proof of Hlubuček’s illegal activities. Therefore, he only acted on a political level to weaken Hlubuček’s position within STAN.
Hlubuček’s activities were reported to Rakušan by then Prague Councilor for STAN Hana Kordová Marvanová, who sent him a detailed internal letter at the beginning of this year. In an interview with Seznam Zprávy, Kordová Marvanová claimed that Rakušan had ignored her warnings. She has since left STAN, partly because of this.
The opposition has called for Rakušan to resign. Former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the leader of the ANO movement, has said that STAN is an organized crime group and that he is not surprised by the scandal. The Freedom and Direct Democracy leader Tomio Okamura made similar remarks:
“Today, the police arrested one of the highest politicians of the government’s STAN, Petr Hlubuček, and they also have the Minister of Education Petr Gazdík in sight. The government’s STAN is more like a mafia. Polčák, Farský, Michalik, Rakušan, Gazdík, Hlubuček… Why is Prime Minister Fiala silent? Is that the change?” Okamura posted on Twitter.
The new education minister
Rakušan wants to meet with possible candidates for the now vacant education minister post in the coming days and introduce the best candidate from STAN. STAN wants to introduce Gazdík’s successor first to the Pirates, with whom STAN ran for election last year, and then to other government partners.
“I refuse that we would have to look somewhere in external waters. We have many people in the STAN movement who have been professionally engaged in education for a long time. They really understand it, and can also manage that political function,” said Rakušan.