The European Union will have a new president in 12 days. Unfortunately, he was a long-term communist collaborator who may still be under the influence of Russian Intelligence, knowledgeable sources within the intelligence community have told The Investigator. Vaclav Klaus, 67, is President of the Czech Republic, which will rotate to leadership of the EU on January 1.
This is the first time a former Soviet-bloc country will lead the EU -- an irony compounded by Mr. Klaus's opposition, earlier this decade, to Czech membership in the political and economic union of 27 countries and almost 500 million Europeans.
Renowned for his arrogance, the prickly Mr. Klaus is no Santa. Often referred to as Europe's rudest politician, he is more like The Grinch. Such audacious behavior, perhaps, helps him mask a 46 year-old secret.
We can reveal exclusively that Mr. Klaus, while a 21-year-old student at the University of Economics, Prague, in 1962, was recruited by Czech counterintelligence officers and put to work as a spy against democratic reformers with whom he studied and later worked. For five decades he has concealed a murky past of betrayal and deception.
Codenamed "Vodichka," Mr. Klaus is said to have been "an avid and willing informant" who reported on the political reliability of his classmates -- two of whom were expelled because of the information he provided.
For his cooperation, Mr. Klaus was allowed to travel abroad on research projects --first to Italy in 1966, and three years later to Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
Mr. Klaus is understood to have reported to Czech intelligence officers on the activities of Czech opposition groups within the United States during the aftermath of the "Prague Spring" rebellion.
In 1970 Mr. Klaus starred in "Operation Rattrap," staged by Czech counterintelligence with the assistance of Soviet KGB advisers. Mr. Klaus was publicly named as an "anti-socialist malcontent" and "purged" from the Economic Institute. Its purpose was to pose Mr. Klaus as a "victim" of the regime so he could continue to penetrate dissident circles as a deep-cover mole. The ruse was successful and Mr. Klaus effectively monitored opposition activities and reported dissident intentions, succeeding also in establishing a personal relationship with underground leader Vaclav Havel, who would become the Czech Republic's first democratically-elected president in 1993.
Mr. Klaus was officially "rehabilitated" by the state in 1987 to allow him to join the Economic Forecasting Institute of the Academy of Sciences -- "a nest of counterrevolution," in the minds of Czech counterintelligence officials, who wanted it infiltrated. Again, Mr. Klaus was their man. Successfully planted within its ranks, he informed on the activities of other members while further building his reputation as a subversive.
But in the 15 years before that, Mr. Klaus had been permitted a career at Czechoslovak State Bank -- most unusual for true critics of the communist regime. He also enjoyed travel privileges, which were practically impossible for genuine dissidents.
Mr. Klaus entered politics in 1989 as a member of the Civic Forum party and got appointed Minister of Finance. Three years later he became prime minister.
One of Mr. Klaus's first acts as a state official was to track down the operational file kept on him by Czech counterintelligence -- and shred it. However, unbeknownst to him, a duplicate "Red File" had been dispatched to Moscow, in October 1989, for safekeeping. It remains in the archives of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
Mr. Klaus was instrumental in pushing Civic Forum to the right, and the so-called Klaus-wing of the party became the core of the Civic Democratic Party, which he has led since its founding.
In December 1997 Mr. Klaus was forced to resign as prime minister due to complicity in a political funding and corruption scandal stemming from a secret Swiss bank account in his name containing $5 million -- exposed at the time as secret donations in exchange for special favors.
Just over a year later, Mr. Klaus began a series of secret meetings with the SVR's Resident (station chief) in Prague. An SVR officer told The Investigator, "We opened an operational file on Klaus under the codename 'Kolesnikov,' and did not rule out the possibility of a recruitment attempt (on the basis of possessing his file and being privy to his darkest secret)."
It is unclear whether Mr. Klaus's political career was resurrected with SVR assistance, but crystal clear that Mr. Klaus has since established an unusually close relationship with Russian supremo Vladimir Putin, who one year ago this month rewarded Mr. Klaus -- a fluent Russian speaker -- with the Pushkin Medal, ostensibly for promoting Russian culture.
Mr. Putin paid a rare state visit to the Czech Republic only after Mr. Klaus succeeded Vaclav Havel as President in 2003. (Mr. Havel led the "Velvet Revolution," which brought freedom to Czechoslovakia). While hosting Mr. Putin, Mr. Klaus' submissive behavior was described by Czech journalists as "borderline sycophancy."
Ever since, Mr. Klaus's support for the Putin regime has been strong and unwavering. For example, when the European Union vehemently condemned Russia's invasion of Georgia earlier this year, Mr. Klaus sided with the Kremlin. "The responsibility of Georgia," he declared, "is unexceptionable and fatal."
An active critic of same-sex couples and the green movement, Mr. Klaus has called global warming a "false myth" and referred to Nobel Prize winner Al Gore as "an apostle of arrogance."
So no surprise that the Czech president took umbrage last week when the EU sealed a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. "This is scandalous," he said, upset that French President Nicholas Sarkozy (current EU President) managed to push it through before his term expired. Mr. Klaus had hoped to quash it. "Oh God," proclaimed the Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse in reference to EU leadership, "Vlaclav Klaus will come next."
Indeed. This Euro-skeptic's imminent arrival as EU chieftain bodes not well for European unity -- or the world.