The Czech anti-monopoly office says it has uncovered its first cartel. The office announced Thursday that the companies Hokra Spedition, Inzet, Prominecon Group, CBK Shift and Natural Mystic had coordinated their bids for a 12 million crown public tender involving construction oversight and maintenance of military dormitories in the town of Litoměřice. The companies were fined a total of 4.9 million crowns. Police have investigated 50 people in connection to the case since last year.
In the area of energy, the environment ministry’s first policy draft includes support for biomass, biogas stations and heat pumps in order to bolster effective and sustainable energy sources. Mr Drobil said that state grants should not be put towards solar and wind power. The environment minister wants amendments to the law on renewable energy sources to ensure the development of prospective sources while not influencing electricity prices for end-users. The nuclear programme, he said, would have the ministry’s support in ensuring maximum security.
Temperatures in the Czech Republic broke records on Thursday, with highs of 37° Celsius recorded in places. The current record for the day, in 2006, was almost seven degrees cooler. Temperatures in the capital city of Prague reached 35.4° by midday. The current heat wave is not however expected to last much longer; temperatures should cool to as little as 15° Celsius at the weekend and forecasters predict heavy storms, hail and windstorms. While July has been one of the hottest in recorded history, meteorologists say that long stretches of tropical heat are not unordinary, with more than 30 such cases having occurred over the last 100 years.
Officials have completed calculations of damages caused by early summer floods in South Moravia. Regional governor Michal Hašek told reporters on Thursday that the total damage amounted to 316 million crowns (roughly 16 million US dollars). State and business properties were the worst affected; damage to state property such as roads and sewage canals amounted to 160 million crowns. The flooding took one life, that of a middle aged man who slipped into a river.
Milan Paumer, of Mašín brothers fame, has died in Prague at the age of 79 let. The news website iDnes reported on Thursday that he had suffered from a difficult illness. The controversial Mašín brothers were an anti-communist resistance group who made a violent escape from communist Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, killing six people, and may have planned other violent acts against the former regime. Mr Paumer was recognised by Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek in 2008 along with the two Mašín brothers for their willingness to fight against the communist regime.
The new environment minister, Pavel Drobil, says he wants to simplify and decrease the amount of paperwork his ministry requires of businesses. In presenting his priorities to reporters on Thursday, Mr Drobil said that he sees the regulation of small and medium-sized businesses as ineffective, because they play a negligible role in polluting the environment. Citing a ministerial analysis from 2008 that shows that three percent of businesses are responsible for 80% of all air pollution, Mr Drobil said he wanted to heavily regulate these polluters while taking the burden off of smaller companies. The ministry will therefore attempt to simplify the system and decrease the number of regulated businesses through amendments to laws regarding air pollution and waste.
Sparta Prague have reached the third qualifying round of European football’s Champions League after overcoming Latvia's Liepajas Metalurgs on Wednesday. The Czech title-holders had won the first leg 3:0 away, and sealed the tie with a 2:0 win in Prague on Wednesday after scoring twice from free kicks in the first half. Sparta’s next opponents in the competition are the Polish side Poznan.
The Chinese city of Huzhou has expressed interest in purchasing the Czech pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai, the Czech Press Agency has reported. The prefecture-level city of roughly 2.5 million apparently wants to cover all costs to relocate the building to a lakeside municipal zone, where it would stand at the centre of a tourist area. No price has been confirmed. The Czech pavilion has been among the more popular sites at the Shanghai expo, with 3.7 million people having visited it so far, or 13 percent of the total number of visitors.
The Czech and Slovak defence ministers have initiated a new work group to consider options for military cooperation between the two countries. Meeting in Prague on Thursday, the Czech minister Alexandr Vondra and his Slovak counterpart Ľubomír Galko agreed that transport aviation and airspace defence were two areas in which greater military cooperation was feasible; the new team will also discuss collaboration on surface logistics and military training, science and research. Mr Vondra said he expected the team’s first results in late November, with basic proposals to be ready next year. Collaboration with Slovak soldiers, he said, could also be an option should the Czech Republic redeploy special forces to Afghanistan in 2011, where the involvement of Czech, Slovak, Polish and Croatian military police is expected.
The Central Register of Debtors has asked the police to investigate Interior Minister Radek John over allegations of corruption. The charge relates to overpriced contracts signed between the publishing company Ora Print, which Mr John ran for a number of years, and the insurance company VZP and the state forestry company Lesy ČR. According to an investigation by the news website Aktualne.cz, Ora Print charged and was paid up to 18 times the standard price for magazines and cookbooks published for the companies between 2002 and 2010. In its complaint, the register also asked that the case not be handled by the usual police divisions due to concerns of bias within the Ministry of the Interior. Mr John has denied personal involvement in the charges in the past.
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