Analyst says security report reveals serious faults in the system

The Czech intelligence service, BIS, released its annual report on Wednesday, which highlighted the dangerous influence of foreign intelligence agents and mafia groups on Czech politics and business. Radio Prague spoke to Andor Šándor, former head of the Czech Military Intelligence Agency and a security analyst, about the most significant concerns the security report brings up.

BIS building in Prague
“The most important finding I can see in the BIS report is that the threats to this country are repeating. It tells me that those who are responsible for solving the situation are doing little, and that they’re not very sufficient. And if next year we will read the same thing, it will mean that this country has a dangerous trend and it may even paralyze the democratic system here.”

One of the main threats that the report mentions are the Russian secret service agents who, at least according to the report, are influencing public tenders in addition to gathering intelligence. What exactly can they achieve on a global scale?

“The Russians have their own interests in this country. They try to influence our security within NATO. They look at the integration trends within European Union. They are interested in our energy security and resources security and obviously they are interested in the results of scientific research. And there are many things they want to influence. The worse thing about this, in my opinion, is that they try to influence the decisions of the government.

Andor Šándor
“Just look at the case of the radar two or three years ago. The Russians were able to influence public opinion that ended up being quite hostile to any American radar station based on our territory. I find it completely unacceptable. The problem is that it is not only the Czech Republic that underestimates the activities of Russian espionage, but many other countries in the European Union are doing the same thing. They don’t understand that they do what they want in order to achieve their own interests on foreign territories.”

The other main topic that is becoming very popular these days is lobbying and corruption. Do you think that public prosecutors and the police have now understood how to actually prosecute corruption in Czech politics?

“I’m not really sure. The one or two cases that have become public knowledge because of media interest, are not showing me that the whole system that is here to fight the corruption is really doing what it needs to do. I think we need more time to be sure that the prosecutors and the police are on the right track of fighting corruption in this country properly.”

Photo: Barbora Kmentová
You mentioned in the beginning that this year’s report is repeating what has appeared in the previous reports. Can the information BIS gathers be actually used by prosecutors during investigations and in court proceedings?

“The problem is that much of the intelligence that the BIS gathers cannot be used in court, because BIS is not a part of the legal investigation system. So politicians could prepare a new law that would enable a part of the intelligence gathered by BIS to be used within the legal system. But if it’s not done, it can be considered a big waste of taxpayer money. Because only to bring information that something is wrong is not enough, what we need to do is use the information in order to prosecute the perpetrators.”