Senior police officer makes serious allegations against prime minister

Jan Kubice, photo: CTK

Tuesday's front pages here in the Czech Republic are dominated by one story: a high-ranking police officer has dropped a political bombshell by alleging senior government officials, influenced by mafia figures, have been attempting to thwart police investigations. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has reacted angrily, saying the claims are politically motivated and designed to hurt his party's chances in this weekend's elections.

Jan Kubice,  photo: CTK
Having previously avoided all publicity, the head of the police's elite organised crime squad, Jan Kubice, now finds himself in the glare of media attention, after making a number of unprecedented allegations that have rocked the Czech political scene.

On Monday he presented a confidential report to the Chamber of Deputies defence committee, in which he alleges the influence of the criminal mafia on the "state administration" is growing. This concerns, he says, the "security, economic and financial stability of the state".

Specifically Mr Kubice says the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek - through Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan and police president Vladislav Husak - tried to thwart an investigation into the contract killing of a controversial and well-connected businessman called Frantisek Mrazek.

He says his squad's investigations have discovered connections between Mr Mrazek's killing and an affair surrounding an extremely lucrative government contract to produce bio fuels.

Jan Kubice,  photo: CTK
Prime Minister Paroubek has reacted extremely angrily to the allegations. He says they are a blatant attempt to discredit his Social Democrats, and are part of a long-planned conspiracy involving Mr Kubice and the opposition Civic Democrats aimed to coincide with what look like being extremely close elections next weekend.

Mr Kubice denies this, saying he has spoken up now in order to protect his team, who have been coming under growing pressure.

Meanwhile, the secret report has been leaked and is on the internet. Among other things it looks at various possible scenarios behind the killing of Frantisek Mrazek. Though it contains no evidence it does contain a remarkable number of names, both from the world of politics and the underworld.

It is a complicated and murky affair, involving allegation and counter-allegation. It may influence the outcome of the elections. Or it could just give Czech voters - disillusioned by a series of scandals - one more reason to stay at home at the weekend.