The Social Democrats have agreed to withdraw a controversial election billboard that has come under fire for racist overtones. Acting party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said the billboard which reads “Why should I regret being a member of a national majority? One state and one set of rules for all!” would be withdrawn and replaced in the coming days. However, not all party members are happy about the decision. The head of the party’s north Bohemian branch Petr Benda said the billboard could be slightly altered so as not to offend some groups of the population, but the core message should stay the same.
President Václav Klaus, Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg agreed on Monday on splitting the foreign affairs agenda. President Klaus will represent the country at EU summits that primarily focus on the union’s external relations, while PM Nečas will attend summits with internal EU agenda. However, the upcoming UN summit in New York as well as November’s NATO summit in Portugal will be attended by both the president and the foreign minister.
Supreme State Attorney Renáta Vesecká will most likely be fired, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told reporters on Monday. Mr Nečas said that her case had been “99.99 percent” resolved but that he first needed to discuss the issue with the other parties in the government; one of them, the Public Affairs party, has been pushing for Ms Vesecká to go over her alleged inability to cope with the reforms put forward by the centre-right cabinet. She has also been under pressure to resign due to her involvement in the scandal relating to a former deputy prime minister, Jiří Čunek. Renáta Vesecká was accused of interfering with the investigation of Mr Čunek’s alleged bribery case; she was labelled part of “judicial mafia” by her predecessor whom she took the court but lost.
The Czech police accused two men on Tuesday of a massive robbery in which they allegedly took more than 154 million crowns, or over eight million US dollars. The robbery took place in Prague in 2002 when at least three men stopped a security van transporting the cash. The police have been investigating the case for eight years and only two years ago found the likely culprits. Two of the accused are on the run. If convicted, the men will face up to 15 years in jail.
A court in Prague on Monday upheld a two-year suspended sentence for former MEP Vladimír Želený for failing to pay customs duty on imported paintings. Mr Železný, a former TV tycoon and a founder of the commercial TV station Nova, had several paintings brought from the UK to the Czech Republic in 1998 but paid no customs. In 2005, while serving as MEP, the European Parliament stripped him of his immunity so that an investigation could be launched. Mr Železný is also being investigated for allegedly damaging creditors in connection with his 1999 takeover of TV Nova.
Hollywood star Tom Cruise is in Prague filming the new thriller, Mission: Impossible 4, the daily Aha said on Monday. The filming should begin within a week; producers of Mission: Impossible 4 picked Prague, where the first film of the series was shot in 1995, due to tax incentives for film productions approved earlier this year by the Czech government. While in Prague, Mr Cruise will also shoot a commercial, the daily Aha reported.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg met with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman in Prague on Monday, and assured him of continued Czech support for Israel in the Middle-East peace talks. Mr Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic had been, was and would be Israel’s ally on the international scene. For his part, the Israeli foreign minister said the Czech Republic was one of Israel’s “most reliable friends”. Mr Leiberman also met with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas during his one-day visit to Prague; his trip marks the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between Czechoslovakia and Israel that were severed after the Six-Day War in 1967.
The Czech competition watchdog said on Monday that it had cleared Czech
holding company Energetický a Průmyslový Holding’s (EPH) acquisition
of joint control of Prague’s main heat and power provider, Pražská
The Office for the Protection of competition approved EPH’s 49% stake in
the joint venture holding company which controls the cogeneration company.
The city of Prague municipality has the remaining 51% in the holding
The approved move was one in a series of deals reshaping the Czech power sector that is currently being investigated by competition officials in Brussels amid suspicion that ČEZ, EPH and EnBW may have agreed to divide up the market between them.
The documentary film Český mír, or Czech Peace, was awarded the main prize, the White Goose, at the MDZ International Film Festival in the South Korean town Paju, on Sunday. The film about plans to build a US radar base in the Czech Republic also proved a success in the United States, where it had its world premiere in July ; the US filmmaker Michael Moore said he would like to distribute Czech Peace as part of his “Michael More presents” project.
A new bypass around the south-western outskirts of Prague opened to traffic on Monday. The 23-km-long stretch of motorway which will allow traffic between the east and the west of the country to bypass the Czech capital, took nearly four years to build, and cost around 20 billion crowns, or more than one billion US dollars. The new bypass is expected to significantly reduce congestion in the city, but it has been criticized for excessive costs.
Collapse of Prague footbridge raises concerns regarding state of other bridges
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ANO leader Andrej Babiš appointed Czech prime minister
Czech wage rises continue apace, low earners seeing larger increases