PM: Mladek "not a threat to state security"

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has backed fellow Social Democrat and Agriculture Minister Jan Mladek, saying Mr Maldek posed no threat to state security following information released by a Czech daily saying that the minister had been refused a clearance certificate by the National Security Authority five years ago, allowing him, for example, to access secret documents. The prime minister has said that he has no information at his disposal that Mr Mladek - as agriculture minister - posed any kind of danger. At the same time, he said that he expected the minister to undergo vetting to dispel any doubts about his security suitability - even if not required by the law.

The daily Mlada fronta Dnes wrote earlier this week that the National Security Authority had refused to grant Mr Mladek security vetting in 2001 when he was deputy finance minister. According to the paper, Mr Mladek had connections to a number of Russian business figures suspected of having links to Russian intelligence services. The minister has denied any such contacts, and dismissed the claim as mere allegation.

Author: Jan Velinger