The Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute has called off a flood alert which was supposed to last until Friday evening. The situation in much of the flood affected areas in the Czech Republic is calming down as most swollen rivers have begun to recede. People have started returning to their homes, though more heavy rain has been forecast for the end of the week. The number of reported flood-related deaths reached seven on Wednesday when the body of a six-year old boy, who had been missing since Sunday, was found in a river.
A report made public on Wednesday claims that suspicious personalities and former Communist secret police agents have managed to slip through security screenings and acquire posts that bring them in contact with top secret information. The shortcomings were uncovered during internal controls of the National Security Office (NBU) vetting procedures from 1999 to 2002. The report was made public by the anti-corruption organisation Pink Panther, who accuse the then head of the NBU Tomas Kadlec and other former members of management of abuse of power and deliberate manipulation with security screenings.
A March poll by the CVVM agency suggests that most Czechs believe the Czech Republic needs to implement a reform of the pension system and the system of welfare benefits but think that the state should strengthen guarantees and social security. Some 62 percent of respondents agree that people should enter additional private pension schemes. Three-quarters of people believe that social welfare benefits should be provided only to the needy, but at the same time a great majority of respondents said social benefits were important for the family.
The Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Lubomir Zaoralek, has declared a state of legislative emergency from April 6 until April 28. The measure was proposed by the government to allow for the quick passing of laws necessary to free finances for flood relief. Instead of in several months, such laws could now be passed in just one day.
Police have charged 16 people with tax evasion in relation with the adulteration of petrol and diesel. The Police Presidium has confirmed the cases are connected to the current operations at the Czech Republic's petrol stations. Customs officers are checking whether fuels are being stored and sold in line with Czech legislation and they are conducting chemical tests.
The High Court in Prague has released entrepreneur Libuse Barkova, an acquaintance of former Prime Minister Stanislav Gross's family, from custody after nine days she spent there. Ms Barkova has been charged with insurance fraud worth 8 million crowns (330,000 dollars). If found guilty, she faces up to 12 years in prison. Last Wednesday, the Prague City Court had her taken into custody in apprehension that she might leave the country.
A state attorney has charged former IT minister Vladimir Mlynar in connection with the formation of the Testcom servis company, the Prague State Attorney's Office said on Thursday. Mr Mlynar was accused last April of assisting in the criminal offence of abusing confidential information in commercial transactions and of abusing his authority as a public official. Police claim that as an MP he must have been aware that the formation of the Testcom servis company was against the law on state property. Mr Mlynar denies any wrongdoing.
Cabinet, on Wednesday, approved a proposal to raise this year's state
budget by 5 billion crowns (over 200 million US dollars) to pay for
damages caused by the floods. The government is also considering the
creation of a 10 to 15 billion crown fund from which flood defence
measures as well as the acquisition of flood damaged buildings would be
financed. The Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Lubomir
Zaoralek, said he may declare a state of legislative emergency to allow
for the quick passing of laws necessary to free finances for flood
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency in the first half of this year, has said he would raise the question of possible financial aid from the European Union Solidarity Fund. Some political parties in the Czech Republic have decided to cut back on their election campaign expenditures and donate the money to flood victims. Charity organizations have also opened up accounts for public donations.
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