According to news site idnes, former prime minister Jan Fischer has officially launched his campaign for the post of Czech president. The daily notes that the popular politician – who led a provisional government following the fall of Mirek Topolánek’s cabinet in 2009 – put up a new video on facebook in which he speaks to viewers about his hopes for the Czech Republic and about his commitment to the country. The video shows the presidential hopeful at his cottage, in a casual light, introducing himself as “Honza” (the informal version of Jan). idnes notes that in the video he never once mentions the word ‘president’. Mr Fischer has not gotten the backing of any party so far, which means he will need 50,000 signatures to become an official candidate. A number of opinion polls have suggested he could be a strong front-runner in the Czech Republic's first direct election.
Prague’s Municipal Court rejected an appeal by jailed businessman Bohumír Ďuričko for his case to be reopened. His lawyer was seeking a lesser sentence for his client based on alleged new expert evidence. Mr Ďuričko was found guilty in the fatal shooting of Václav Kočka, jr. at a Prague restaurant in 2008. The shooting happened several hours after a book-signing was held there by former prime minister Jiří Paroubek. Bohumír Ďuričko received 12.5 years in prison for the killing, but claimed he shot in self-defence; the new evidence was supposed to corroborate his story. Monday’s decision can still be appealed.
A young man is in serious condition after falling from a side walkway at a
shopping centre in České Budějovice shortly before 7 am on Monday. A
police spokeswoman confirmed the man had suffered head trauma; he
reportedly is not an employee at the site. The shopping centre has three
floors, including a bus station on the ‘roof’. Police are
the cause of the accident.
Recently, a 22-year-old was killed at a major Prague department store after climbing onto – and falling 10 metres from – the hand-rail of an escalator.
Police picked up 20 powerful new automobiles at Mošnov in the area of Nový Jičín on Monday, designed to pursue aggressive drivers and others who ignore the rules of the road. Police President Petr Lessy told the Czech news agency the new vehicles were 300 horsepower Volkswagen Passats, capable of achieving 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds and maximum speeds of 250 kilometres per hour. The police bought the new cars for 30 million crowns (25 of which were provided by the Finance Ministry). Until now, the police had 15 such vehicles, which, over the course of three years had been used in more than 80,000 misdemeanour cases; fines handed out in the cases brought in around 90 million crowns, Mr Lessy said. He added the strengthened fleet of police vehicles would have a greater presence on the country’s highways and major roads.
Almost 200,000 more viewers than the previous week tuned in on Monday to see the launch of the new version of Czech TV’s evening news, Události, Czech news site idnes reports. The revamped programme has seen changes in some of the main anchors, graphics and overall presentation. According to idnes, just over 900,000 people watched the programme on TV, while another 150,000 or so watched over the Internet. So far the numbers have fallen short of new Czech TV head Petr Dvořák’s goal for the news to garner a third of the ratings: 27.93 % of all viewers watched, media website Mediář said.
Jan Šubert, the spokesman for the Czech intelligence service BIS has said
its director, Jiří Lang, will explain to the Parliamentary commission
overseeing its activities, conversations between controversial lobbyist
Roman Janoušek and intelligence officers dating back to 2007. On Friday,
the Czech website Euro.cz suggested that the lobbyist – who is the
of a major scandal also involving former mayor Pavel Bém – had
maintained influence not only at Prague City Hall but even within the
The news site provided transcripts of alleged conversations involving Mr Janoušek, which were also published in hard copy on Monday. BIS spokesman Jan Šubert strongly criticised the article, suggesting that Euro.cz had heavily manipulated the material. He said earlier that the intelligence service regularly communicated with individuals from various circles - including lobbyists - to better protect the state’s economic and security interests.
Police have recommended that Jaroslav Barták, suspected of assaulting assistants who applied for secretarial positions, face a total of seven charges in court. The state prosecutor’s office has received notification but a spokeswoman declined to elaborate. According to sources, such as tn.cz, it is believed the women were sexually abused and beaten by the doctor, who headed a polyclinic in Prague’s Modřany and tried to move in higher echelons of society, namely among entertainers or politicians. He has currently in custody; if found guilty, Mr Barták could face up to 12 years in jail.
A group of Czech university professors has slammed a study claiming that
natural predators pose a greater threat to the endangered wood grouse at
Šumava National Park than woodcutters or tourists. Karel Kindlmann, of
faculty of Natural Sciences at Charles University, made clear that he and
twelve others had serious reservations, sending a letter to the Czech news
agency. According to the professors, the study used faulty methodology and
was missing key data as well as proper references; the group charges the
findings could “not be taken at all seriously” and that the study
“evoked practices common under the former totalitarian regime”.
The group has recommended that in order to properly map the wood grouse population in the park, standard methodology was needed, for example to gauge reproduction rates, which the study touted by the Park failed to do. Around 300 specimens of the bird nest within the vicinity. In February, the Czech Ornithological Society named the Wood Grouse “Bird of the Year” to draw attention to controversial plans at Šumava National Park, including the creation of a new ski hill to attract tourists.
The doctors’ unions has asked for a meeting with the prime minister as soon as possible over salaries, Martin Engel - the chairman of the umbrella union LOK-SČL - said on Monday. According to the unions’ calculations, the state will not have enough for promised pay rises for hospital doctors, the chairman said, adding that insurance companies had been paying out less than needed to meet previously agreed salary increases of 6.25 percent. The pay rises were agreed in negotiation between the doctors’ unions and the government last year. Mr Engel indicated – in the unions’ view – that the government was not meeting its commitment, and indicated that there was dissatisfaction with the way audits were being run at concrete hospitals to check the state of finances.
The lower part of Prague’s Wenceslas Square became a pedestrian zone with restricted car traffic on Monday. The car-free zone starts in the middle of the square where Jindřišská street leads into it; car traffic is also restricted on the street itself. Local authorities said the measure was aimed at lessening traffic in the area ahead of the planned renovation of the square.
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