A scandal over suspected corruption surrounding the purchase of armoured
personnel carriers for the Czech army has deepened with a former minister
of defence accusing previous Civic Democrat prime minister Mirek
of pushing through the deal. Former minister Vlasta Parkanová told the
daily Dnes that Mr Topolánek supported the deal from start to finish,
adding that there was a great hurry to seal it. She said Mr Topolánek
wanted the then deputy minister from his party and current defence
minister, Martin Barták, to deal with the dossier and she was sidelined.
She was reacting to Topolánek’s suggestion she should shoulder the
Police have launched an investigation into the 14.4 billion Czech crowns purchase 107 APCs from the Austrian firm Steyr amid reports that two to three percent of that amount went to Czech politicians in kickbacks. The two biggest parties, the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats, have denied any wrongdoing.
The Czech ice hockey team beat Latvia 5:2 in their second group game at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The Czechs quickly took a three goal lead in the first period but the Latvians came back to score twice in the second with the game standing at 4:2 at the end of that period. With a 100 percent record of two victories out of two, the Czechs now only need a draw with Russia on Sunday to book a place in the quarterfinals.
Former Social Democrat prime minister and European Commissioner, Vladimír Špidla has been selected to fight for at the south Bohemian town of Český Krumlov for a seat in the upper house. The decision to select Mr Špidla was taken unanimously by local party representatives on Saturday. Mr Špidla, 59, recently ended his term as commissioner for labour and social affairs and said he perhaps had another 10 years of public life ahead of him. The Senate elections will take place in the autumn.
The Czech Republic’s biggest electricity company ČEZ confirmed on Saturday that all three suppliers who expressed initial interest in building two new blocs at the Temelín nuclear power plant have made it through to the following round. ČEZ did not release the names of the companies. These have earlier been reported as a consortium led by Russian nuclear supplier Atomstrojexport, France’s Areva and the US-based company Westinghouse. Negotiations with suppliers could start in May with offers made by spring 2011 and the final tender winner announced in 2012. The participation of a Russian state energy company has sparked concern in some quarters about energy security.
Leaders of the banned Workers’ Party said on Saturday that they will fight upcoming general elections under the banner Workers’ Party of Social Justice (DSSS). Leader Tomáš Vanas said he felt support following Wednesday’s decision by the Supreme Administrative Court to dissolve the Workers’ Party and said that could be vented in the elections. It was the first time a court has banned a party on political not financial grounds since the creation of the Czech Republic in 1993. The court cited the party’s racist, xenophobic and anti-gay stances and Nazi links for its decision. The extremist party currently has only a handful of local council seats.
Czech national and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech provided striker Didier Drogba with a pass from a goal kick which allowed Drogba to extend his team’s lead to 2:0 in the Premier League confrontation against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. Čech and Drogba are reported to have been practising passes from goal kicks. The win allowed Chelsea to take a four point lead at the top of the league following Manchester United’s defeat earlier in the day. Čech also made some crucial saves to stop Wolves getting back in the game.
Saturday’s edition of the daily Pravo highlights the fact that women now represent 57 percent of the total 370,000 Czech university students. In 1991, the percentage was 44 percent. The paper points out that the trend of more qualified women students has not translated in more women in top positions in companies or society. It adds that higher qualified women often experience greater problems in relationships and marriages especially if they earn more than their partner.
The Czech Civic Democrat Party presented “Vision 2020” containing its political and economic programme for how the country should develop over the next decade. The programme, which is not its platform for elections to the lower house of parliament in May, was presented by party leader Mirek Topolánek at a meeting in Brno on Saturday. He said tough decisions had to be taken to cut state spending in areas where it is currently forced to intervene. The programme includes the target of presenting a budget where the state budget does not exceed 3.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2012. That could allow for adoption of the single currency euro in 2015. The document also describes ecological industry as a great opportunity for the Czech Republic.
In football, Czechs have been told the timetable for their Euro 2012 qualifiers. The Czechs have been drawn in the same group as Spain, Scotland, Lithuania and Lichtenstein for the championships hosted by Poland and Ukraine. The first encounter against group favourites and current champions, Spain, will be an away match on March 25, 2011 with the return game on October 7, 2011. The first group match will be against Lithuania on September 11 this year with the return leg on October 11, 2011, ending the Czech qualifiers.
The Czech film about the moral dilemmas facing a family under the communist regime, Kawasaki’s Rose, has been awarded two prizes by independent juries at the Berlin film festival. The film directed by Jan Hřebejk was awarded prizes by the ecumenical jury, which represents members of the Catholic and Protestant churches, and by the jury representing the International Confederation of Art House Cinemas. The main awards from the 60th Berlin film festival were due to be announced on Saturday night.
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