In case you are wondering what a quote from an Indiana Jones movie has to do with my article about the former Czechoslovakia - it is a parallel! Indy's puzzlement over snakes is obvious - I on the other hand am wondering why 15 years after the alleged switch to democracy and subsequent split into two countries, neither the Czech Republic or Slovakia can produce decent, uncorrupted people with a clean record to represent their respective countries in top government jobs or abroad in diplomatic positions.
To put it into perspective - imagine the governments of Francois 'Papa Doc' Duvalier, Saddam Hussein or the memorable Idi Amin Dada Oumee. All these governments are clean as a whistle compared to the current governments of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Over 90% of government officials in the aforementioned two countries are in one way or another stained by their membership in the communist party, its clones and variations or by collaboration with the oppressive communist regime. And the most ridiculously corrupt and incompetent characters are always at the top.
Take, for example, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Stanislav Gross, a 34 year old former government railroad employee with the nickname "Kolotuk" (the railman who checks the integrity of wheels on railroad cars and engines by gently knocking on them with a long-handled hammer). He made the meteoric rise from zero to hero when he went from a nobody to the Prime Minister in less than 10 years. During that time he managed to get a doctorate in law by copying 25 pages of a government report he had access to. When nosy reporters found out, his "doctoral thesis" miraculously disappeared in Prague's flood two years ago and was never found. The reporters should consider themselves lucky to not have vanished along with Kolotuk's thesis since the honorable Prime Minister has a passion for surrounding himself with the most unsavory characters from the country's past - former communist prison guards, former communist secret policemen and so on.
Kolotuk's wife, thus wife of the Prime Minister, is an even more amusing specimen. The young lady started her career in a Prague bordello owned by her girlfriend. But don't get any ideas! She was allegedly employed only as a cleaning lady! Nothing more! Mmmhmm. Then she mysteriously received a security clearance to work in the food service lounge of the Czech parliament, where she met Kolotuk, fell in love and got married. A truly heartwarming and Cinderella-esque story.
After they married, the newlyweds acquired a luxurious home in an exclusive apartment development in Prague's Barrandov area. Minor hiccup - the luxurious apartment was worth several millions of Czech crowns and inquiring reporters calculated that neither of the pair had the means or ever made a sufficient amount of money to cover the purchase. The Prime Minister issued numerous excuses - all of them lame - about how he came to be in possession of such a gross (no pun intended) amount of money. The funniest one was that he borrowed it from his uncle, a retired (and penniless) Army officer living for the last 25 years on a government pension. The uncle confirmed the story, but he could not explain where he acquired the money. Eventually the uncle claimed that he himself borrowed it from a local businessman, to whom he wrote an IOU. This IOU was promptly "purchased" by the leader of local "conservative" party, who then allegedly burned it. His "purchase" was supposed to be financed by a government grant, which his miniscule party would get if they were ever elected to parliament - so it was in fact, never paid for. Are you still with me?
The leader of the main opposition party, Miroslav Kalousek, did not say too much, because his own living quarters (which he could not afford on his own as well) were allegedly paid for by his brother in law, who was subsequently murdered by his partner. Not even the scheming Lucretia Borgia could come up with a more masterful plan!
Remember the wife of the Czech Prime Minister? I'm not finished with her yet. She is a very enterprising lady and recently came up with the idea of rebuilding and remodelling a whole block of older buildings in Prague to make them into luxurious apartments and offices. All this remodelling would cost an obscene amount in any currency and would be paid for by money provided by her girlfriend from the past - the owner of Prague's bordello. Where the Prime Minister's wife used to work. As a cleaning lady. The Czech Republic has no laws or regulation against money laundering ("that would be too uncivilized!") so no investigation commenced - but the Prime Minister's wife is allegedly backing off the idea due to pressure from the media. I want to cry! Oh the injustice! Call Johnny Cochran! Why is she is not on Oprah yet???
And the Prime Minister did not resign, nor did he even apologize - because situations like this are not the exception in today's Czech Republic - they are the rule.
So it goes in the Czech Republic...
March 11, 2005