Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek resigns from office, blames the press
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Development Jiri Cunek on Wednesday resigned from his posts in the centre-right cabinet saying that he did not want the financial scandal surrounding him to weaken the governing coalition. He left in fighting spirit, having defended his post at the head of the Christian Democrats and blaming the press for his downfall.
"The Czech TV report which set this scandal in motion was biased and untrue. This whole affair has been artificially created in order to damage me. I can only say what I have said repeatedly in the past - I am innocent of any wrong-doing."
In relation to the scandal surrounding alleged abuse of welfare benefits, Mr. Cunek explained that he had been fully entitled to them since part of the 3.5 million crowns he had in the bank belonged to his cousin with whom he was planning to start a business. He produced the respective certificates and the cousin in person. As to why he had not explained the matter sooner, Mr. Cunek said he had not wanted to impose on his relatives who would have been dragged through the mud by the press. Regarding the investigation of corruption which the state attorney recently re-opened, Mr. Cunek said he could now clear his name without suspicion of political intervention. Following his address, no one at the 100-member conference proposed that Jiri Cunek should quit his post as chairman.