The Daily Telegraph

Rid my office of bugs, says new Czech leader

- By Joe Barnes

THE president-elect of the Czech Republic has refused to work in the office traditiona­lly used by the country’s leaders until it has been swept for bugging devices.

Petr Pavel, a retired Nato commander, has ordered an overhaul of security at Prague Castle, the seat of the head of state, and an inquiry into a private security agency, citing concerns over “eavesdropp­ing”. Mr Pavel said he would not work at the castle until it was “cleaned up”.

“A private security agency operates at the castle that has almost unlimited access to everything and is not subject to police control,” he told Respekt, a Czech magazine. He made the claims amid fears that an adviser to Milos Zeman, the incumbent president who is seen as a Kremlin ally, had his phone bugged. During Mr Zeman’s tenure, intelligen­ce services had warned of Russian and Chinese influence.

Mr Pavel won the election on a pro-european platform, beating Andrej Babis, a populist billionair­e, in a move away from Russia and China.

Mr Pavel, 61, has positioned himself as a staunch backer of Ukraine and has said in an interview that Kyiv needs “unmanned aerial vehicles, artillery and longerrang­e rockets, but maybe also supersonic aircraft”.

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