The former prime minister Mirek Topolánek has told the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes that he is negotiating with politicians and diplomats about a post in an international organisation with a scope broader than just Europe. The former PM did not reveal specifics but made clear the job he was seeking was related to energy policy. He stressed that he thought his chances for the post were not high – only around 30 percent. Mr Topolánek led the Civic Democrats until earlier this year; he stepped down following a scandal over controversial statements he made in an interview for a gay magazine.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta has made clear he will address Czech Airlines and Prague and Brno’s airports for help to try and keep open a flight route between the Czech and Moravian capitals, in all likelihood providing favourable conditions for negotiating with another airline. According to sources, under its restructuring programme ČSA is scrapping flight routes operating at a loss, including Prague-Brno; on Thursday Transport Minister Bárta met with ČSA president Miroslav Dvořák but categorically ruled out state funding for the route, given planned austerity measures. The minister said he had commissioned historic data as well as actual numbers and costs on the Prague-Brno route.
Czech fans will be able to look forward to a number of clashes between Czech players in the next round of football’s Champions League, as decided in the team draw in Monaco on Thursday. Seven of 11 players on team rosters will be competing in Group F, which includes a match-up between FC Chelsea (who have goalkeeper Petr Čech) and Slovakia’s Žilina, which dispatched of Sparta Prague in the previous round. Tomáš Rosický of Arsenal will face his countryman Tomáš Hubschmann of Donetsk in Group H. AC Milan’s Marek Jankulowski can look forward to matches in the so-called ‘group of death’ which features Ajax Amsterdam, Real Madrid, and Auxerre, along with the Italian club.
Police called on personnel to evacuate from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in Prague’s Dejvice on Friday, so that specialists could secure a dangerous chemical on site. A bottle of crystallized peroxide, which had been stored for some time on the premises, was accidently uncovered during a practice drill by fire fighters. Pyrotechnic specialists were then called in and used a remote-controlled robot to contain the highly-volatile chemical. A search using a sniffer dog was also conducted to ensure other areas of the building are safe.
The Czech Police are reinforcing patrols on Friday in anticipation of heavy traffic on the last weekend of the summer holidays. They have planned some 110 road checks during which they will be focusing on drinking and driving and speeding. Officers will also check the technical state of vehicles. The start of the summer holidays in the Czech Republic brought the highest number of road deaths in months; 21 people died in traffic accidents over the first holiday weekend.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said he would be willing to accept a new flood tax proposed by the finance minister but only for one year. He made the statement in an interview for the financial daily Hospodářské noviny on Friday, stressing that he was not willing to raise taxes for a longer period. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek raised the issue following recent flash floods which devastated parts of northern Bohemia. Under his plan, members of the workforce would contribute to a flood relief fund in the form of a 100 crown-a-month cut in their income tax break. The proposal has been a point of contention between the finance minister and the prime minister in the media since.
Sparta Prague will face Tomáše Necid and his team CSKA Moscow, along with Italian side Palermo and Switzerland’s Lausanne in Group F of the Europa League. The draw took place in Monaco on Friday. The first match by Sparta will be on September 16 against Palermo. The last group game will be against Lausanne.
The leadership of the opposition Social Democratic Party has called on its members and functionaries to focus more on the upcoming communal and Senate elections and not to air personal disputes in the media. The request on Friday was made by the party’s acting leader Bohuslav Sobotka. Earlier this week two prominent Social Democrats – South Moravia’s regional governor Michal Hašek and Central Bohemian governor David Rath – traded barbs. Mr Hašek accused Rath of creating discord in the party, labelling him the Kraken – a sea monster from Greek mythology. Mr Rath, in turn, called Hašek’s choice of words “vulgar”. The Social Democrats are trying to take a different tack in the upcoming elections after winning only a Pyrrhic victory in the national election earlier this year.
The Hydrometeorological Institute has issued flood alerts for the regions of Liberec and Ústí nad Labem in north Bohemia, saying rising water on local rivers could reach level one or two activity by Friday evening. Level 3 indicates danger or extreme danger due to flooding. Both regions are far from recovering from devastating flash floods just three weeks ago which caused billions of crowns in damage and claimed several lives. In connection with the latest developments, officials have warned canoeists and rafters to stay off of rivers for the next several days. The flood alerts in the regions of Liberec and Ústí nad Labem will be complemented by level one warnings on rivers in other parts of the country, including western, central and eastern Bohemia, on Friday evening.
The Czech online auction website Aukro has said it has blocked the account of a seller suspected of having ripped off clients for around half a million crowns (the equivalent of around 26,000 US dollars) by not delivering promised goods. These reportedly included handbags, watches and perfumes. Clients, the auction website says, are compensated for damages of up to 20,000 crowns; in this case the forty people or so who dealt with the questionable seller will be fully refunded; Aukro has not ruled out that additional cases may still emerge. The site, which has 1.8 million registered users in the Czech Republic, is also communicating with the police over the matter.
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