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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
PRAGUE/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)--Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas resigned on Monday following a massive espionage and bribery scandal involving his government.
Necas stepped down after special police detained at least eight influential people, including his closest aide and the head of his office, Jana Nagyova. She was charged with ordering a military intelligence agency to spy on three people, including Necas’ estranged wife, vastly overstepping her authority.
Czech media reported that Necas and Nagyova have a romantic relationship, but both denied the allegations.
Additionally, some 150 million koruna ($7.5 million) in cash and tens of kilograms of gold were discovered in 31 raids in different parts of the country. Prosecutors linked Nagyova to these findings but did not specify her role.
The eight suspects have now been charged with abuse of power or corruption.
Though he initially refused to step down, Necas told reporters late Sunday he realized his position had become untenable.
“I have been attentively following the entire political developments that occurred since Wednesday and I realize my political responsibility,” he explained.
He said he had informed the leadership of his center-right ODS party that he would step down Monday both as prime minister and as party chairman.
While this is one of the largest scandals since Czech independence in 1993, it is no isolated incident.
Other high-level corruption scandals since the fall of Communism in 1989 and eventual break-up of what was Czechoslovakia includes a former defense minister asking the United States ambassador for a $5-million bribe.
Necas’ resignation officially ends his three-party coalition government, which was created after the 2010 parliamentary election.
However, the politician said he still hopes the cabinet can stay in power until new elections are held next year.
Yet it remained unclear whether the Czech president and Parliament would be prepared to continue with what was already a fragile coalition, plunging the Czech Republic into a period of political and social instability.
(BosNewsLife's NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments from especially, but not limited to, (former) Communist countries and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or other compassionate professionals).
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