- Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said he does not expect the two-day EU summit to produce concrete results.
- The daily Insider has suggested that a highly sensitive corruption case reviewed by the Prague State Attorney’s Office could have been behind the justice minister’s unexpected dismissal.
- The former head of the Prague police Vladimir Kotrouš has been charged with corruption.
- The head of the Šumava National Park Jan Stráský is to leave his post at the end of the month.
- The public has been warned to brace for an extreme heat wave in the coming days.
Prime minister says no concrete results expected from EU summit
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said he does not expect the EU summit in Brussels to produce concrete results. Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Czech prime minister reiterated his stand against a banking union and closer integration, saying that in any case his mandate would not allow him to sign up to far-reaching changes. The Czech head of government noted that further efforts at weakening the position of national institutions in favour of Brussels would be seen by the Czech side as very problematic. He said moreover that certain proposals which had appeared in the media could lead to a violation of the single market rules in the area of financial services which he considered a big setback.
Insider says sensitive case could have been behind justice minister’s dismissal
The daily Insider has suggested that the activities of the State Attorney’s Office in Prague could be behind the unexpected sacking of Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil. The daily said that in recent months the acting head of the office, Stanislav Mečl, had reportedly requested files on several sensitive cases including that relating to the former environment minister Pavel Drobil who resigned amidst speculation that he had covered up corruption at the State Environment Fund. This particular case –in which police are said to have investigated the prime minister himself –is reported to have soured relations with Mr. Pospíšil.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nečas, who has come under a volley of criticism over Wednesday’s lightning dismissal of the justice minister, insists that poor management and budgetary issues were behind the dismissal. He has once again stated that he was not aware of the fact that ex-minister Jiří Pospíšil had just received an official request from the Supreme State Attorney for the nomination of Lenka Bradáčová to the post of Prague High State Attorney and was prepared to approve it. Bradáčová is a scrupulously honest and highly respected prosecutor who is relentless in her fight against corruption.
Former head of Prague police charged with corruption
The former head of the Prague police Vladimir Kotrouš has been charged with corruption. Kotrouš is suspected of having accepted a several million crown bribe in return for awarding a multi-million-crown contract to a private firm. If convicted he could face up to 12 years in jail. Kotrouš headed Prague’s municipal police for ten years.
Stráský to be replaced as Šumava National Park head
The head of the Šumava National Park Jan Stráský is to leave his post at the end of the month. Environment minister Tomas Chalupa confirmed the news on Thursday, rejecting reports of an alleged dismissal. He said Mr. Stráský had been named to the post for an 18 months period which was now due to expire. He is to be replaced by his current deputy Jiří Mánek. Jan Stráský has repeatedly come under fire from environmental activists for ordering extensive logging in the reserve as a means of fighting bark-beetle infestation. The Czech Republic received a serious warning in the matter from the European Commission last week with the environment commissioner saying the EC would take the Czech government to court should it fail to address the problem.
Sobotka wins Civic Democratic presidential primaries
Senator Přemysl Sobotka will be the Civic Democratic Party’s candidate for president. He defeated MEP Evžen Tošenovský in party primaries with 61% of the vote to his rival’s 39%. About a fourth of the party’s roughly 27,000 members took part in the vote. Surveys suggest that Senator Sobotka remains a long shot for the presidential post, which will be filled for the first time through popular elections in early 2013.
Central bank cuts interest rates to record-low levels
The board of the Czech National Bank cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point on Thursday, putting the benchmark two-week repo rate at an all-time low of 0.5 percent. The main interest rate had previously not budged from 0.75 percent since May 2010. Analysts expect interest rates to stay at record-low levels until at least end-2012, after which they predict a gradual increase.
Municipalities show surplus despite revenue fall
Municipalities in the Czech Republic registered a record drop in total revenues of 10.4 billion crowns in 2011 the Czech Credit Bureau reported Thursday. Nevertheless, municipalities compensated the fall by a cut in spending of 5.8 percent, showing an 0.8 billion crown surplus as a whole, the report said. The best results were achieved by the smallest municipalities. Among the reasons behind the drop in revenues was above all a cut in subsidies of 6.7 billion crowns.
Zeman’s party of Civic Rights gaining support
The Party of Civic Rights established around the former prime minister Milos Zeman now has enough support to win seats in parliament. According to the results of a survey conducted by the Factum Invenio agency the party would now be able to cross the 5 percent barrier needed to enter parliament with approximately 5.5 percent voter support. Meanwhile support for the Social Democrats, who are still in the lead has slipped from 26.2 percent in May to 22.7 percent. The Communist party would come second with 17.1 percent, followed by the ruling Civic Democrats with 16.6 percent and TOP 09 with 13percent support.
Aggressive driver gets suspended sentence and seven-year-ban on driving
Forty-seven-year-old Ales Trpišovský on Thursday received a two-year suspended sentence and a seven year ban on driving for repeatedly putting others on the road at risk. Trpišovský was accused of intentional reckless and aggressive driving on the country’s D1 highway. According to eyewitnesses he repeatedly hit the brakes in front of slower vehicles as punishment for slowing him down. In one case the car behind him crashed as a result. Trpišovský’s case has become notorious in the Czech Republic, where aggressive driving is a serious problem.
Czechs warned to brace for extreme heat wave
The public has been warned to brace for a record-breaking heat wave in the coming days. Meteorologists have forecast temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius over the weekend, the hottest weather in living memory at the start of the summer holidays. The hottest weather on record on July 1st was registered in 1905 when monitoring devices in Klementinum showed just under 35 degrees Celsius. People have been warned to increase their intake of liquids and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
Friday should be hot and humid with afternoon highs reaching 28 degrees Celsius.