JESUS could turn water into wine. David can turn wine into cash. That’s just one of the jokes that popped up after the arrest of David Rath, a prominent Social Democrat in the Czech Republic, who was arrested with a shoe-box (škatuľa od topánok) filled with seven million Czech crowns (about €275,000).
He claims he did not know money was inside, believing it contained a bottle of wine. There was no need for explanations after the subsequent discovery of a further 30 million crowns under the floor of his house. Everyone knew the police had tapped into Rath’s private wine cellar.
Kidding aside, the case does not shed a very good light on Czechs politics.
Still, Slovaks can only envy their neighbours. At least they have managed to put a high-profile figure behind bars.
That seems unlikely to happen here, for several reasons – the country has been without a proper general prosecutor for over a year, the boss of the Supreme Court has still not explained his friendly phone conversations with an Albanian drug-lord, the prime minister refuses to say whether he was involved in the Gorilla mega-scandal and whether he really did finance his party with black funds. And you could find a stain on the record of quite a few members of the current social-democratic cabinet.
And yet, Robert Fico’s first government was so much worse, especially due to the presence of his junior coalition partners from the HZDS and SNS, that this administration looks almost tolerable in comparison. It would be too much to expect them to do much in the fight against corruption.
But at least they look like the types that wouldn’t get caught carrying their cash in a shoe box.