The Czech Republic handed three helicopters over to Afghanistan in a ceremony at Prague’s Kbely military airfield on Wednesday. The presentation was made by the Czech defence minister, Vlasta Parkanova, and the chief of staff of the Czech Army, Vlastimil Picek. There are plans to give the Afghans another nine helicopters no longer required by the Czech military. All 12 aircraft need to be refitted.
Organised crime is putting increased pressure on state bodies as it attempts to influence the awarding of public tenders and grants, suggests the 2006 annual report of the Czech counter-intelligence service BIS. The report, released on Wednesday, said mafia attempts to influence state bodies and the court system at local and national level represented one of the country’s biggest security risks. The 2006 BIS report also said that attempts by the Russian intelligence services to influence Czech-Russian business relations were a serious issue.
The Czech Republic beat Cyprus 2:0 in Nicosia on Wednesday evening, in what was their final European Championship qualifying game. With the Czechs having already reached Euro 2008, coach Karel Bruckner fielded a few relatively inexperienced players, including Slavia Prague’s Daniel Pudil, who opened the scoring after 11 minutes. Jan Koller increased his national record to 51 goals when he netted the Czechs’ second in the middle of the second half.
The Czech Republic has the most bureaucratic tax system in the European Union, suggests a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the World Bank. Of one hundred and seventy-eight states surveyed around the world, the Czech Republic ranked 113th in terms of tax system efficiency and 168th in terms of administrative burden – making it the worst in the EU. Czech firms spend 930 hours a year on tasks related to taxation, the study found.
From next year it will be possible to buy tickets for Prague’s public transport system by mobile telephone text message, Lidove noviny reported. Prague’s transport authority has already signed deals with the country’s three mobile operators, the newspaper said. Only basic one-journey tickets will be sold by SMS and passengers should receive replies within two minutes of texting a transport authority number.
On Tuesday Tomas Bata Jr. received the Award for Responsible Capitalism from Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, Alistair Darling. The award is bestowed by an international jury and was created by the business magazine FIRST. Mr Bata told reporters that honesty and ethics should always be part of business. His father, also named Tomas, started the Bata shoe empire with the opening of a plant in Zlin, south Moravia.
A van containing around 800 kg of silver was stolen from a petrol station near Jihlava on Monday evening, police said. The driver and a passenger left the vehicle at the filling station for half an hour and returned to find it had disappeared. Police said early estimates suggested the van’s cargo was worth around CZK 5 million.
The opposition Social Democrats have the support of 34.2 percent of the electorate, suggests a poll conducted by the Factum Invenio agency this month. Second in the survey were the governing Civic Democrats, with 27.9 percent support, followed by the Communists, with 15.3 percent. In terms of seats, the left-wing parties the Social Democrats and the Communists would have 106 between them in the Chamber of Deputies.
The subject of far-right extremism was also covered in the report. Its authors found that neo-Nazis in the Czech Republic were organised in small groups at regional level and did not have one strong leader. Far-right concerts and other public events decreased in number in 2006, with skinheads preferring to meet at private parties. Meanwhile, the sale of neo-Nazi paraphernalia had moved from gatherings to the internet.
Tomas Bata Jr. says he plans to demand compensation from the Czech state for the property confiscated from his family after World War II. Speaking to the website aktualne.cz, the Czech-born shoe magnate said the Bata family wanted compensation for the value of the property nationalised under the post-war Benes decrees. Mr Bata, who is 93, previously mentioned the possibility of demanding compensation when a Prague court reopened a case from 1947 in which his uncle Jan Antonin Bata was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for collaboration. Recently the state attorney’s office cleared Jan Antonin Bata’s name, when it said no crime had been committed.