News Czech Republic climbs in latest TI corruption perception survey

27-01-2016 09:00 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic has climbed from 53rd to 37th in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index published by watchdog Transparency International. Radim Bureš of the Czech branch of the organisation told Czech Radio that the country’s placing in the 2015 survey represented a dramatic improvement; he said this was down to increased efforts to deal with largescale corruption dating back to the government of Petr Nečas. Denmark placed best in the report, followed by Finland and Sweden.

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05-12-2016 14:30 | Jan Velinger

Tuesday should be sunny with daytime highs reaching only 0 degrees Celsius. 

Field surgical team leaves for Iraq

05-12-2016 14:27 | Jan Velinger

Personnel of a 17-member-strong field surgical team departed for Iraq shortly after midnight on Sunday where they will join coalition, Iraqi, and US soldiers providing support at a US base several dozen kilometres away from Mosul. The news was confirmed by the spokesman for the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces Jan Šulc. Two surgeons and an anaesthesiologist form the core of the group. 

Poll: Trust in head of state at lowest this year

05-12-2016 14:14 | Jan Velinger

Trust in the country’s president, Miloš Zeman, is the lowest all year according to a poll conducted by the CVVM agency. According to the survey, trust in the head of state fell by eight percent in November, to an overall 48 percent. The drop coincided with a scandal in late October in which Czech-born Auschwitz survivor Jiří Brady was allegedly passed over for a state honour as the result of a meeting between his uncle, Culture Minister Daniel Herman and Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Prague Castle has been wary of angering China in its pursuit of increased trade. Distrust in the president, according to the same poll, is 49 percent. Trust in the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, meanwhile, is at 35 percent – down by three from the previous poll. 

Angels, devil and Mikuláš visit children in hospital ward

05-12-2016 13:43 | Jan Velinger

Some 17 children at a hospital ward in Karlovy Vary were visited by fourth year high school medical students on Monday dressed as angels, devils and Mikuláš (St. Nicholas) to mark the upcoming saint’s day. Events marking “Mikuláš” are traditionally held on the evening of December 5. Traditionally, children receive fruit or chocolate in return for reciting poems or singing songs, which keep the devils at bay. Somewhat naughty children can also receive a potato or lump of coal. In recent years, more and more Czech children have themselves dressed up as the iconic characters, making the evening more similar to Halloween. 

Supreme Audit Office finds only shortcomings, no breach of the law, in military purchases

05-12-2016 12:32 | Jan Velinger

Investment in new military equipment by the Czech Army over the period of the last five years was marred by shortcomings in project outlines and planning, the country’s Supreme Audit Office has found. According to the audit, the army’s fighting capabilities had nevertheless improved through most of the purchases. Details of the audit were released on Monday by the Supreme Audit Office’s Olga Málková. The country’s Defence Ministry considers important the fact that the bureau found no breach of the law or of ministry regulations. The ministry has also announced that it is working on simplifying and speeding up the process of army acquisitions. 

Independent media speculate that head of Prague Castle protocol is on way out

05-12-2016 12:18 | Jan Velinger

There has been speculation in the Czech media that the head of protocol at Prague Castle, Jindřich Forejt, could be leaving his post within a matter of days. Independent news websites such as Neovlivní.cz, Echo24.cz a Blesk.cz have all reported the story; the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček declined to comment, saying he only discussed personnel changes when they were happening. Mr Forejt has been the centre of media attention in recent weeks, both for a faux pas concerning the American ambassador to Prague, as well as controversy surrounding this year’s state honours and Czech-born Canadian Jiří Brady, who reportedly had been considered but in the end did not receive a state distinction. 

Czech politicians congratulate Van der Bellen on Austria presidency win

05-12-2016 08:27 | Ian Willoughby

Senior Czech politicians have congratulated Alexander Van der Bellen on winning the presidential election in neighbouring Austria. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický and opposition TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek were among those who wished Mr. Van der Bellen well following his victory on Sunday over the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer. 

Fans filmed making Seig Heil gesture at Ortel concert

05-12-2016 07:38 | Ian Willoughby

Fans have been filmed making the Seig Heil gesture at a concert of the controversial Czech rock band Ortel. The scene was caught in March this year by documentary maker Vít Klusák and was shown on Czech Television’s 168 Hodin programme on Sunday evening. The material appeared in a report about rapper Radek “Gipsy” Banga, who walked out of an awards show in protest at the presence of Ortel, who are known for their hate-filled lyrics. Mr. Banga was later subject to virulent racism on the internet. Ortel’s leader also founded the neo-Nazi band Conflict 88 and the group’s song Hadr (Rag) was once the anthem of the now banned neo-Nazi Workers' Party. 

ANO would garner more than double votes of Social Democrats, poll suggests

04-12-2016 15:58 | Ian Willoughby

ANO would come first in general elections with 33.5 percent of the vote, suggests an opinion poll conducted by TNS Aisa for Czech Television. Coalition leaders the Social Democrats would come second with 14 percent, indicates the survey conducted last month. The Civic Democrats placed third in the poll, with 9 percent of respondents saying they would vote for the right-wing party. They were followed by the Communists on 8.5 percent and the Christian Democrats with 7.5 percent. 

Koukalová wins pursuit at Biathlon World Cup in Sweden

04-12-2016 12:36 | Ian Willoughby

Gabriela Koukalová came first in a pursuit event in the Biathlon World Cup in Sweden’s Oestersund on Sunday. Koukalová, who is 27, took the lead after her first shooting round and finished eight seconds ahead of second-placed Laura Dahlmeier of Germany. The Czech lifted the Crystal Globe for overall first place in the Biathlon World Cup last year under her maiden name of Soukalová. 

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