- Former intelligence chief Karel Randák has been cleared of wrongdoing in a case connected to former prime ministerial aide Jana Nagyová (now Nečasová).
- The Social Democrats want Prague Castle to be exempt from church restitution but the prime minister has confirmed any steps will be up to the next government.
- A special Russian Antonov aircraft landed at Pardubice airport on Wednesday ahead of a planned observation mission.
Former intelligence chief cleared of wrongdoing
Former intelligence chief Karel Randák and former office of the government employee Lenka Pikorová were both acquitted by a Prague court on Wednesday of charges connected with bonuses paid to the previous government’s chief-of-staff, Jana Nagyová (now Nečasová). The two had been charged with the unauthorised handling of personal data. According to the indictment, in 2011 Ms Pikorová allegedly gave copies of Nagyová’s pay slips to Mr Randak, a member of the anti-corruption endowment board, to release to the media. The previous government office had declined to release the salaries of its employees despite repeated requests by the media that had been alerted to Nagyová’s unusually high bonuses. Wednesday's decision by the lower-instance court has already been appealed by the state prosecutor.
Ms Nagyová married former prime minister Petr Nečas last month; she is a central figure in a spying and corruption scandal which led to the unexpected fall of his government earlier this year.
Social Democrats want Prague Castle to be exempt from church restitution but PM confirms any steps will be up to next government
The chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Bohuslav Sobotka, has called on Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok to pass a new law which would suspend church restitutions for a year and would leave all the buildings at Prague Castle in the care of the state. Mr Sobotka argued that Prague Castle as a site was a symbol of the Czech state and that no buildings that make up the complex should belong to the Church. When meeting with Cardinal Dominik Duka earlier this week, Mr Rusnok said that this is not a pressing issue and stressed that there was no need for legislative steps.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Rusnok reaffirmed his position at a press conference making clear that questions over Church restitution and Prague Castle would not be up to his cabinet but up to the next government to decide. The outgoing justice, interior and culture ministers will, at the same time, prepare possible alternative solutions.
Cardinal Duka cut off on Czech Radio
In related news, Cardinal Duka strongly criticized the Social Democrats on Czech Radio on Tuesday afternoon, comparing the possibility of Prague Castle being exempted from church restitution to actions taken by the country’s former Communist regime. His statements, and the raising of his voice in the broadcast, saw him clash with the programme’s host, and led to his being cut off. Czech Radio said in a statement that the cardinal had breached the broadcaster’s pre-election impartiality rules.
Antonov aircraft lands in Pardubice ahead of observation mission
A special Russian Antonov An-30B aircraft landed at Pardubice airport on Wednesday ahead of a planned observation mission in the Czech Republic over the next one or two days, the Czech Defence Ministry’s Vladimír Šupšak told the Czech News Agency. The Russian inspection team will take pictures of locations of strategic importance on Czech territory under the Open Skies programme of armament monitoring. The country is obliged to accept four observation missions a year and it is allowed to conduct four of its own abroad annually, Mr Šupšak confirmed. The Russian inspection team has 17 members, including the flight crew, technicians and inspectors.
Reports: Železný to head TV Barrandov
According to as yet unofficial reports, one of the original founders of commercial broadcaster TV Nova, Vladimír Železný, could return to run TV Barrandov. The station is to make an announcement on Thursday. If confirmed, Mr Železný, who ran TV Nova throughout the 1990s as the country’s most successful private broadcaster, would replace Jaromír Soukup. The head of internet news site Digizone, Jan Potůček, has cited sources close to the broadcaster who allegedly had confirmed the move. According to analysts, Mr Železný could gradually improve TV Barrandov’s ratings. Currently, the station focuses much of its programming – including films and series – on older viewers.
Comedian’s wellness hotel & farm sold in auction
A wellness hotel, restaurant and farm in Olšany, formerly owned by Czech actor and comedian Bolek Polívka, was auctioned to an unknown buyer on Wednesday for 15 million crowns. According to reports there were potential buyers but the initial bid was not challenged. The farm and hotel suffered financial difficulty after renovation costs exceeded original estimates. Mr Polívka, a famous entertainer in Czech film and TV, declined to comment. His agent revealed the actor would discuss the case in an upcoming interview.
Pražská plynárenská testing Prague gas lines this week
The gas company Pražská plynárenská, serving more than 400,000 homes and other sites in the Czech Republic, will test gas lines in the capital and surroundings this week. According to Czech Radio’s Regina, testing will continue through Friday. In testing, companies regularly add an odorous substance to natural gas to make leaks easily detectable by end-users.
Prague’s public transit company opens sixth information centre
Prague’s public transit company, Dopravní podnik, has opened a new information centre at Prague’s main station, Hlavní nádraží. The information centre is the sixth the firm has opened. The aim is to provide travellers with all possible information regarding transit schedules and sites.
Kvitová wins first match at WTA Championships
Petra Kvitová beat the world number four Agnieszka Radwanska in her first game at the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Tuesday, with the final score 6:4,6:4. The top Czech female singles tennis star, Kvitová, lost to Radwanska last year at the same stage and eventually pulled out of the championship. Kvitová’s group this year also includes the defending champion Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber.
NHL action: Devils lose to Columbus
The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the New Jersey Devils in their last outing in the NHL, leaving the Devils’ with only one regular-time win in their first nine games. Star forward Jaromír Jágr, who joined the hockey club after going all the way to the Stanley Cup finals with Boston, expressed his frustration on-line. The player has two goals and four assists in the season so far.
The upcoming days should be partly sunny, with possible rain showers in some regions. Temperatures should stay at around 19 degrees Celsius.