According to a poll by the GfK polling agency, most citizens of the Czech Republic believe they live in a corrupt state and that corruption is on the rise. Czechs are also pessimistic as to the future developments. 56 percent of the respondents said they saw bribery as a normal part of life. On the other hand, fewer than 20 percent said bribes were unnecessary as everything could be obtained in a legal manner. According to last year's annual corruption perceptions index by the anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, the Czech Republic came joint 50th with Greece, Namibia and Slovakia, out of a total of 159 countries surveyed.
Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna told the Sport daily that she was to become an American citizen as her application for citizenship was in its final phases. The 1998 Wimbledon champion, now 37, has been living in Highland Beach, Florida for around 10 years. Novotna said the authorities had surpassed her expectations as she filed her request for citizenship only last year. The daily added a comment that Czech tennis has now exported 27 Grand Slam titles to the US after Martina Navratilova with 18 and Ivan Lendl with eight, now it is the turn of Jana Novotna.
New Interior Minister Ivan Langer (Civic Democrats) has said he has reduced the number of his deputies from seven to three. They will be responsible for internal security, finances and operation, and public administration. The slimming of the ministry's staff is one of the first steps taken by Mr Langer who was appointed on Monday. Mr Langer also said he was going to order administrative, property, financial and legal audits. He also said he planned to define a strategy of the fight against corruption, to strictly punish failures and simplify some administrative procedures.
Prime Minister and Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek has said that Czech foreign policy will not be influenced by the fact that the government seeks only a limited mandate due to the complex situation on the domestic political scene. Addressing Czech ambassadors who are meeting in Prague, the new Prime Minister said that the country's first priority was its presidency of the European Union in spring 2009. He said he hoped that Romania and Bulgaria will join the EU in January as planned, adding that the Czech government will pay special attention to the accession talks with Turkey and Croatia. Mr Topolanek also mentioned the possible stationing of a US anti-missile defence site in the Czech Republic. The issue became a point of controversy on the Czech political scene, as the leftist Social Democrats of former PM Jiri Paroubek oppose it, while the Civic Democrats have recently expressed support for the base.
Tomas Berdych, Jiri Novak, Martin Damm and Jan Hernych were named on Thursday to play in the Czech Republic's Davis Cup world group clash with the Netherlands from September 22-24. Novak, 31, was a surprise inclusion after missing six months to May this year due to an ankle injury. At the time of his injury he had considered retiring from the sport but he proved at the US Open he was back to his best, reaching the fourth round where he lost to world number two Rafael Nadal on Monday. One player not fit to make the team, though, was Radek Stepanek, who has an injured back.
The Czech energy giant CEZ, which is also the biggest energy company in central and eastern Europe, is to list on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in October, company chief Martin Roman said on Thursday. He said that CEZ shares will be listed simultaneously in Warsaw and Prague. Poland is described by CEZ, already present in Romania and Bulgaria, as one of its strategic markets for its expansion in central Europe and the Balkans. In May, the Czech power giant acquired two Polish power plants situated in southern Poland not far from the Czech border.
The municipal court in Prague has ruled against a decision made by the country's broadcasting council to issue six licenses for digital television broadcasting. The court says the council's reasoning for approving or rejecting license applications has been obscure and contradictory. The case was taken to court by the country's biggest commercial station TV Nova, which protested against the rejection of a license for four of its projects.
New interior minister Ivan Langer has suggested that he will introduce steps to privatise the Czech Postal Service. Plans to transform the postal service into a joint-stock company and then privatise it had already been voiced by the ministry for information technology, which was dissolved by the new minority Civic Democrat cabinet that was appointed into office on Monday. Mr Langer says he supports the plan and intends to carry it out.
Domestic violence is the most widespread form of violence in the Czech Republic a police psychologist reported on Wednesday. According to the Bily Kruh Bezpeci victim support group, three in five domestic violence cases occur in middle and high class families. A recent opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency suggests that 23 percent of the population have experienced physical harassment and mental torture. A new law, which will come into effect in January, defines domestic violence as a criminal act and is expected to help reduce the number of cases significantly.
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