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Who’s the fool now?

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The scandal surrounding the Italian holiday of Czech politicians and lobbyists, stuffed with so many coincidences that one could start believing in an almighty hand of fate, is developing as other remarkable statements have emerged.

Of course the whole scandal is, in essence, about what the scandal participants talked about and what they planned to do. But the details and the way they explain the whole issue suggest that they probably think newspaper readers have recently undergone a lobotomy.

For example, Marek Dalík claims in an interview with MF Dnes that Topolánek, after all, “is not any fool” who would “let a lobbyist close to him, who defends somebody’s interests”. The interview deserves attention for two reasons. First, Dalík is saying his boss is weak-minded, because lobbyists defending “somebody’s interests” appear close to Topolánek on a regular basis. He plays golf with them, he attends tennis matches with them, and he goes skiing with them.

The second reason is in the part of the interview where Dalík explains why they had chartered a yacht just from Radek Mašín, an entrepreneur reportedly linked to fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejčíř. Topolánek’s aide says that he “had no other option” than chartering the yacht from Mašín. “This is a small, landlocked country, so when you are Czech and want to charter a yacht, you can ask either Mašín or Charouz. I had no other option. If I chartered it from Charouz, you would also write that he is a criminal,” Dalík says in the interview.

But there are almost unlimited options. The author of this text needed exactly 91 seconds to type “yacht rent Italy” in Google and wait for the result, offering one-and-a-half million links. And when she clicked on the very first one – the specialised portal Happy Charter, through which one can rent ships from other companies – she found dozens of ships of all sizes and shapes, including yachts similar to those where Topolánek, Řebíček and others were photographed. Searching among Czech firms is just as easy.

That suggests two explanations – either Dalík has never heard of the internet, or Mašín’s offer was particularly advantageous. The first option is very unlikely, and the second one then provokes more questions. An advantageous offer and extra favours to a politician can come either as a reward for a favour already done or as an “advance payment” for a future favour.

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