PRAGUE, March 29 (Reuters) - The Czech government sacked its
point man for the construction of a new nuclear power plant on
Monday after he criticised the industry ministry for changing
tack on a planned tender that critics saw as a way to keep
Russia in the running.
The dismissal of long-time energy executive Jaroslav Mil is
the latest in a series of conflicts over the plan to build the
multibillion-dollar plant, focusing on whether Russia should be
excluded from bidding for the project for national security
Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek said Mil had
lacked a higher security clearance - which had not been seen as
a problem before - and did not communicate well.
"In the past days, communication was not going well,"
Havlicek told a news conference after a cabinet meeting where
Mil was dismissed.
The NATO and EU member country's security services and
opposition parties have demanded that Russia and China be kept
out to avoid the country's exposure to potential geopolitical
pressure. Havlicek called Russia a "key energy partner" on
While political parties agreed not to invite China, Russian
participation has been backed by the state-controlled
electricity producer CEZ, whose subsidiary is the
plant's investor, as well as by President Milos Zeman and the
Communist party, which props up the minority cabinet by its
votes in parliament.
The ministry said last week the government would delay
opening the tender for the supplier until after an election due
But in the meantime, potential bidders - South Korea's KHNP,
France's EdF, Westinghouse of the United States and
Russia's Rosatom - would be given tender documentation and a
security questionnaire in a pre-qualification round.
Critics saw this as back-door way to invite Russia in.
News website www.aktualne.cz said Mil had sent the
government's Security Council a letter in which he criticised
Havlicek's decision saying it "would significantly damage the
trustworthiness of the state's proceedings declared until now".
Mil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)