- The government plans to concentrate on pro-growth measures following budget cuts.
- Police are investigating accusations of embezzlement in the lottery company Sazka.
- Hackers using the moniker Anonymous shut down the governing parties’ websites on Saturday.
- Presidential candidate Jan Fischer has opened his first election office.
- A number of carbon monoxide poisonings have been reported due to gas appliances affected by the sharp rise in temperature.
Government will focus on economic growth after cuts, says PM
Prime Minister Nečas has told an ideological conference of his party that the government will concentrate primarily on pro-growth measures after the Chamber of Deputies renewed its mandate on Friday. The government’s top goal of balanced budgets could not be attained without a growing economy, he said. Analysts have voiced concern that the budgetary cuts the government approved in early April will decrease the performance of the economy. Mr Nečas said that for that reason the government will now concentrate on renewing economic growth.
Police investigating Sazka for embezzlement
Police have begun an investigation into accusations that the lottery company Sazka defrauded T-Mobile customers of 230 million crowns. The telecommunications firm has yet to receive the money, which its customers spent on lottery terminals in the spring of last year, and claims that Sazka kept it. The largest betting company in the Czech Republic, Sazka was declared bankrupt last spring and its business activities have been taken over by the finance companies PPF and KKCG.
Anonymous shuts down governing parties’ websites
Hackers using the moniker Anonymous shut down the governing parties’ websites on Saturday. The Civic Democratic Party and TOP 09 took their sites offline for security reasons after it became apparent that a strong attack was underway. The website of the Communist Party was also down Saturday afternoon, while the Public Affairs website was slow. Anonymous warned of the attack ahead of time as part of an initiative called “Together for Change! We Want Real Democracy!” The opposition Social Democrats said they did not condone the attack, but that they considered it an expression of a broad feeling of helplessness and dissatisfaction in society.
Fischer opens election office
Former prime minister and presidential candidate Jan Fischer has opened his first election office in Prague’s Žižkov district, where he will meet with citizens and representatives of various organisations. A statistician, Mr Fischer was appointed to run an interim technocratic government in 2009; he has since led the polls in political popularity and has a strong lead over the other candidates for president, among them economist Jan Švejnar, former PM Miloš Zeman and TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg. The first direct election of the Czech president will take place in early 2013.
Temperatures break records across the Czech Republic
Temperatures broke records across the Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday, reaching 30° Celsius in places. The Clementinum in Prague, which has been noting temperatures since 1775, registered 27.7° on Saturday, which broke a 212-year-old record of 25,9°. The highest readings were made in the West Bohemian city of Plzeň where the temperature reached 30.1° C, nearly four degrees above the record. Meteorologists say the heat wave could last through Monday in the eastern part of the country. With 138 cm of snow still on the ground in some mountain areas, avalanche areas have been put on alert.
High number of carbon monoxide poisonings
A number of carbon monoxide poisonings were reported in Prague on Friday, as the sharp rise in temperature caused leaks from unsealed gas water heaters and flues. Nine people were reportedly injured, among them three minors. Rescue services say the problem is annual and is caused by low atmospheric pressure combined with high temperatures, but the number of people affected on Friday was extra-ordinary. People are advised to set up sensors to detect the gas, which is odourless.
Occupy movement takes to Prague’s Lesser Quarter
Supporters of the Occupy movement held a demonstration in Prague’s Lesser Quarter on Saturday; the group plans to stay on Klárov green until May 12. Several tents have been erected and discussions, lectures and other events are to take place. Speakers at the protest camp are pushing for political change and drawing attention to the part of banks and politicians in the global economic crisis. Some of the demonstrators also came out against the controversial ACTA treaty.
Conditions over the coming days are expected to be hot, with clear skies and daytime highs reaching 30° Celsius.