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Czech Republic: Prime Minister To Reveal Party Finances

Prague, 28 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said today that his ruling Civic Democratic Party (ODS) will open its accounts to the public in an effort to regain public confidence in the midst of a campaign finance scandal.

Klaus told a news conference in Prague that the ODS will tighten rules for accepting campaign contributions and will work with other parliamentary parties to improve legislation on the issue.

Klaus and the ODS are in the middle of a growing political finance scandal. It was disclosed this week that donations totalling some $220,000 given to ODS in 1995 came from a businessman and former tennis star, Milan Srejber. The donation came after Srejber acquired a large stake in the Trinec steel concern privatized by Klaus' government. Some ODS members have charged that Klaus knew of Srejbaer's donation all along, though he denies it.

Klaus said the ODS leadership has decided to donate the money to an account for victims of last summer's devastating floods in Moravia and eastern Bohemia.

Klaus told today's news conference he is disgusted and offended by what he called a "repeated campaign" to try to cast doubt on his morals and honesty. He says the entire ODS leadership will offer its posts for re-election at an upcoming party congress "at the earliest possible time." But he says he will run again and does not intend to buckle under to pressure to resign.

Klaus adds he is disturbed by what he says is a camapign to discredit the government, just as it is preparing to negotiate entry to the EU and NATO for the Czech Republic. He says certain unnamed forces are behind the effort and he also blamed the media for concentrating on his party's woes.