Final Word from Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "bagman" as "a person who collects or distributes the proceeds of illicit activities." The appointment by Premier Stanislav Gross of a special team of advisers raises the question of just what their purpose will be. They'll have unequalled access to ministers and will be able to attend and speak at cabinet meetings. The head of the team, Zdeněk Šarapatka, objected in Nedělní svět to the suggestion that he'll be there to collect bribes. However, the appointment of the advisers - some of whom have a less-than-pristine reputation when it comes to paper sacks - merely feeds the doubts about what Gross is up to. Is he the Privatization Prime Minister, who is willing to toss his career in the bin as long as a few good deals get done? Or is he looking beyond payday to a long, arduous career in politics? The answer, frankly, is not yet in the bag. Jan Mládek corruption bribery


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