- The Czech Republic’s state debt has reached 1.6 trillion, approximately 160,000 crowns per capita.
- The controversial political “lobbyist” Miroslav Šlouf, who was to head the Zemanites’ Prague ballot in October’s general elections, has been rejected by fellow party members.
- Tennis player Radek Štepánek has given the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead against Argentina in the semi-final of the Davis Cup.
State debt increases to almost 160 thousand per head
The Czech Republic’s state debt rose by 10.5 billion crowns in the first half of 2013, reaching an overall total of more than 1.6 trillion. Broken down, the share of the debt per citizen comes to almost 160 thousand, the Finance Ministry confirmed. According to ministry forecasts, the state debt will rise to 1.8 trillion by the end of next year and 1.9 trillion by the end of 2015.
Šlouf struck off candidates’ list
The controversial political “lobbyist” Miroslav Šlouf who was to head the Citizens’ Rights Party - Zemanites’ Prague ballot in October’s general elections has been scratched off the party’s candidates’ list. Mr. Šlouf himself admitted that he had been replaced as Prague leader following a stormy meeting of the party leadership on Thursday night. He said he would consult lawyers about the move. In a press briefing on its election candidates on Friday, the party stated that outgoing Transport Minister Zdeněk Žák will be Prague election leader.
A one-time chief political advisor to President Miloš Zeman, Miroslav Šlouf did not want to comment but, according to the Czech News Agency, called the party leadership “fools”. Mr Šlouf remains a highly controversial figure – a former communist believed to have enormous influence and connections to the underworld who has been linked to many political scandals and shady deals. Although he is credited with Mr. Zeman’s election victory, the president has publicly distanced himself from his former advisor.
Paroubek opts not to run
Former prime minister and ex-chairman of the Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek announced on Friday that he will not run in the upcoming election although he will fully back his party, LEV 21. Mr Paroubek charged that public media attention given to his party had been scant, adding the party had only raised a third of funds needed for a proper election campaign. He did his praise LEV 21 for well-prepared candidates’ lists. Unlike other politicians who have launched election campaigns in recent days, Mr Paroubek has suggested that the elections will do little to improve current conditions. LEV 21 had two MPs in the lower house, both former Social Democrats; polls aren’t giving the small party much chance of getting into the Chamber of Deputies.
Baťa’s descendents stake compensation claim in Slovakia
Descendants of Jan Antonín Baťa -founder of the successful shoe-making empire - have asked Slovakia for millions of euros in compensation for property confiscated under the Beneš Decrees in 1947. The move comes following Baťa’s rehabilitation by Slovakia's courts and a decision to scrap the validity of the 1947 verdict which found him guilty of collaboration with Nazi Germany. The Czechoslovak shoe manufacturer set up four industrial centres in Slovakia and invested in hotels, spa resorts, and real estate. Baťa’s descendants have staked a similar claim in the Czech Republic where they are demanding 56 million crowns in compensation for confiscated property.
Anti-corruption police raid publisher’s offices
The anti-corruption police conducted a raid on Friday at the Prague offices of the weekly Euro and E15 published by Mladá fronta. Those are also home to the printing company Europrint. The spokeswoman for the Police Presidium Eva Kropáčová told the Czech News Agency the investigation had nothing to do with the journalistic side of the business. Nine people were reportedly detained. The police raid could complicate the release of the magazine’s next issue, due on Monday.
Labour ministry exhausts four-fifths of emergency aid budget
The labour ministry has exhausted four-fifths of its budget for people or families in emergencies or crisis this year: 7.5 billion crowns in the first seven months – 1.7 billion more than the same period in 2012. More individuals and families have signed for social benefits or welfare, and unemployment did not improve, the Labour Office’s report notes. This year, more funds went to the unemployed and the handicapped.
Police investigate possible murder attempt
Police in Prague are investigating alleged tampering with a car elevator at a Prague apartment building which may be a case of attempted murder. Alena Vitásková, the head of the country’s Energy Regulatory Office, who has regularly received death threats, expressed no doubt that someone had tried to take her life by tampering with the elevator to force its collapse. Mrs Vitásková’s partner was caught in the elevator for several hours on Monday. Mrs Vitaskova has had police protection the last half-a-year, after someone on the highway tried to force her car off the road.
Czech film sees success at prestigious US festival
A 21-minute Czech film Strach (Little Secret in English) has won one of the main categories at the prestigious LA Shorts Fest 2013. The result automatically pushes the film onto a list of contenders for an Academy Award nomination. Directed by Martin Krejčí, the film was inspired by a highly-publicised incident last year in which a 15-year-old boy claimed he was severely beaten by a group of Romanies after he refused them a cigarette. The incident sparked a wave of anti-Roma sentiment and saw benefits concerts organised to help the alleged victim. Under police questioning, however, it became apparent the boy made up the whole story. In truth, he fell badly on a landing, and made up the story to avoid being punished at home.
Homeless men caught with dead boar
Police in Most briefly detained two homeless men on Friday after a passerby witnessed the two boarding a local tram with a dead boar. The men said they had found the animal as road kill near the town’s train station. The police took the carcass away for proper disposal after filing a report, writes Mladá fronta Dnes.
Davis Cup semi-finals begin
Tennis player Radek Štepánek won the opening match on Friday in the Davis Cup semi-final between the Czech Republic and Argentina. The veteran swept past Argentine No.1 Juan Monaco in straight sets. The final score was7:6, 6:3, 6:2.
The second singles match will see World No. 5 Tomáš Berdych take on Leonardo Mayer.
Rainfall is expected throughout; daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 18 degrees Celsius.