Outgoing Finance Minister Eduard Janota has disqualified the PPF financial group from a controversial ecological tender on cleaning up damage to the environment, a spokesman for the finance ministry said. According to the official, Mr Janota based his decision on the findings of an expert commission questioning the qualifications of the bidder in the so-called “supertender”. It is the second time the Finance Ministry has disqualified the consortium of PPF Advisory, Ecosoil Sud, AVE CZ and Dekonte. Previously the group appealed to the Office for the Protection of Competition, which overturned the decision. PPF may do so again. The ecological supertender - worth an estimated 115 billion crowns – merges hundreds of smaller projects on cleaning up the environment; it has been criticised by both activists and politicians for being potentially open to corruption.
The 45th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will get underway on Friday evening with the screening of the American film Crazy Heart, directed by Scott Cooper. In the film, Jeff Bridges plays an aging country singer given a second chance and the performance earned Bridges this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor. Other films to be shown in Karlovy Vary over the next nine days include Knight and Day, an action movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. In all, 205 films will be screened. Guests at the festival will include British actor Jude Law, known for key roles in projects like Road to Perdition or Artificial Intelligence or Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, who won the Best Foreign Language film Oscar for Burnt by the Sun in 1994.
The Social Democrats have said they are preparing to put forward names for a shadow government and to present an alternative programme contrasting the one coming together among centre-right coalition parties expected to form the next cabinet. Speaking at a press conference in Prague on Friday, acting Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said his party would be rigorous in opposition. His party won the general election in May but still fared worse than expected and from the get-go was unable to find a partner to form a viable coalition. Mr Sobotka suggested that while his party would not pull any punches, it would back positive legislation, such as restricting immunity for MPs or cutting politicians’ salaries. But he expressed disappointment in the centre-right parties’ aim to keep the flat tax. The acting leader, who took after Jiří Paroubek resigned over the election results, is a former finance minister as well as likely candidate for chairman in the future.
Czech star midfielder Tomáš Rosický has denied any knowledge of reports linking him to a possible to move to his former club Borussia Dortmund. The player left for Arsenal in 2006 but struggled with injuries in recent years. According to the Daily Mail’s MailOnline, the player had also attracted the attention of Hamburg and Cologne. Rosický’s agent Pavel Paška admitted there has been an interest in the player but stressed the midfielder’s priority was to remain with the Gunners. The 29-year-old Rosický signed a new long-term deal with Arsenal at the beginning of this year.
Senior members of the three parties forming the next government have said they will raise salaries for teachers, providing an additional 2.1 billion crowns next year and an extra 4 billion in 2012. But that will be followed by a three-year freeze to the Teachers’ Fund. The plan meets a commitment by the centre-right parties towards education at a time when other areas in the public sector face possible layoffs and pay cuts. Radek John of Public Affairs said on Friday he was pleased that teachers would experience the opposite. The plan agreed by members of the parties left no room for a proposal by incoming education minister Josef Dobeš for the state to provide a one-off payment of 180,000 crowns to new teachers. Also the boost in teachers’ salaries that was agreed will not come from the defence budget, an idea which had been pursued by Public Affairs.
Police in the Chrudim area are investigating the circumstances in the tragic death of a four-year-old boy in the area who was run over by his mother as she was practicing at the wheel of her car, the news website tn.cz reported. The accident took place on Thursday evening. Police are not revealing any details about the incident but the head doctor at emergency services revealed that the mother made a critical mistake when she opted to take the boy home rather than immediately calling an ambulance. When emergency workers were alerted, they tried to assist at least over the phone before an ambulance as well as helicopter arrived. At that point it was too late: medics were unable to resuscitate the child, who succumbed to his injuries. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death as well as to help establish the exact circumstances in the incident.
The country’s Communist Party has said it will not back the next coalition government of the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs when a confidence vote is held. Senior party officials met on Friday to work out a position and came out critically against the centre-right coalition, sparing no rhetoric. The party also urged its own supporters to organise demonstrations against planned measures. The coalition being negotiated by Prime Minister Petr Nečas has promised to push through tough austerity measures, which is the platform on which it was elected. Together the three parties hold 118 seats in the 200-member lower house, meaning a confidence vote will be passed easily without Communist support. On Friday, the newly-elected speaker of the lower house Miroslava Němcová suggested the vote could take place on August 10.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has defeated Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in straight sets to book a place in his first ever Wimbledon final. The Czech showed top form to take the match, winning 6:3, 7:6; 6:3 but had to fight out a tough tiebreak at the end of second, when it appeared Djokovic would make a masterful comeback saving four set points in a row. Berdych is the first Czech in 23 years to reach the final at Wimbledon: in 1987, it was Ivan Lendl. The 24-year-old player will face either Andy Murray of Great Britain or Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the championship match.
Meteorologists at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute have extended a fire weather warning to the whole of the Czech Republic, in reaction to especially dry conditions over the coming days. In line with the warning, individuals should refrain from building campfires, smoking or heating meals on portable cookers while in nature. In addition, meteorologists have said parts of the country (Bohemia, southern Moravia) will see daytime temperatures of around 33 degrees Celsius up to Sunday. Small children and the elderly, especially, should not remain in the sun for long periods and individuals should be sure to drink plenty of liquids, specialists said.
The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic has upheld a law that is blocking the sale of land locked in a restitution battle between church and state. In Monday’s verdict, however, the court urged action, saying that the long-lasting neglect of lawmakers to solve remaining ownership issues between the state and the church is unconstitutional. The ruling judge said that the court did not wish to be dragged into a political battle. The verdict came after a group of senators had tried to push through the cancellation of a law that is blocking Czech towns from selling or building on land locked by a long-standing conflict regarding the restitution of church property.
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