The Social Democrats, the Communists and the left-wing Citizens Rights’ Party on Wednesday signed a deal on forming a coalition government in the eastern Zlín region. The region has become the fifth district where the Communist party will be directly involved in government, following their strong showing in last month’s regional elections.
Some 2,000 trade union members from a leading Czech mining company, Czech Coal, staged a protest outside the government building in Prague on Wednesday against a bill that will ban the expropriation of land for mining. The draft legislation has already been passed by Parliament and is to be signed into law by the president. The protesters said that the bill would lead to a decline in mining and to a loss of jobs, particularly in the depressed region of northern Bohemia. The environmental group Greenpeace however accused the protesters of promoting the interests of Czech Coal management as they did not react to massive layoffs by the firm in the past.
Tomáš Berdych defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi 7-6, 6-2 at the indoor Paris Masters event on Wednesday, and advanced to the tournament’s third round. The fifth-seeded Berdych had to overcome some difficulties in the first set but scored five aces in the second to wrap up the match in one hour and 40 minutes. In the next round, the 27-year-old Czech, ranked sixth in the world, will play the winner of the match between France’s Richard Gasquet and Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
The Office for the Protection of Competition (ÚOHS )issued a 900-thousand-crown fine to the national Railway Infrastructure Administration for breaking free-competition rules in a 237-million-crown tender to modernize a part of a railway line. The ÚOHS claims the railway administration disqualified the bid by the construction giant Skanska without proper cause, even though the price offered was at least a fourth lower than the final price of the project.
The Prague City Council approved the Czech capital’s bid to become a member of UNESCO’s Creative City of Literature, the City Hall announced on Tuesday. The bid is being coordinated by the Municipal Library of Prague and has been official supported by the world famous writer Umberto Eco. Currently, the network of cities of literature, which was established in 2004, has five members, including Edinburgh, Dublin and Melbourne. In addition to the municipal library, 33 literary, cultural and tourism organizations contributed to the preparations for the bid.
The lower house has voted to postpone deliberations on the controversial
tax reform package to next week, despite disagreement from the opposition.
The Civic Democrats requested the delay on Tuesday afternoon in order to
have the crucial vote take place after their party convention, due to
internal disagreements over the reform package. The discussion in the
house was scheduled to begin on Wednesday. A group of Civic Democrat MPs
met on Tuesday morning to discuss possible changes to the proposed
legislation, but again made no headway. Six rebel MPs from the party
supported the proposal to postpone Wednesday’s vote in order to have
time for discussion, but said the reform package would remain an issue of
contention even after the party convention this weekend.
The opposition Social Democrats and the leadership of the Public Affairs party did not support the motion, saying that putting off the vote on any crucial legislation such as the tax package or the pension reform would only contribute to political instability.
The European Commission have renewed payments to the Czech Republic for the Environment and Transportation programs, having paid out 43 billion crowns to the Finance Ministry for past projects this week. The commission suspended payments for the Environment program in June and for the Transportation program in August 2011. Financing for a number of other programs was also suspended, because of the Commission’s misgivings about the way the Czech ministries administered the funds. Although financing for some programs was renewed in the summer, funds for these particular programs were paid out only now.
The police have begun an investigation into Karel Randák, the former head of Czech counter-intelligence and a member of the board of trustees of the Anticorruption Endowment, on charges that he leaked privileged information. Randák along with one other person from the Office of the Government are being accused of leaking information related to the salary bonus of Jana Nagyová, the managing director of Prime Minister Petr Nečas’s cabinet. The information that Ms Nagyová received approximately 190 thousand crowns in March, with a basic salary of 30 thousand crowns a month, became public earlier this year. Mr Randák said that this investigation has been initiated as a threat to his bid in this winter’s presidential election.
A 65-year-old Czech man who went missing in the Austrian Alps over the weekend does not have very good odds of surviving, according to an Austrian internet news server. The man’s son alerted the authorities on Saturday after he did not receive a phone call from his father who was hiking in the mountains. Adverse weather conditions with temperatures dipping as low as -10 degrees Celsius in the area will make it difficult for the hiker to survive. A 50-member search and rescue team was prevented from continuing their search on Tuesday because of bad weather.
The police in the south-western Domažlice region uncovered at least 20 liters of methanol-laced alcohol. All of the alcohol most likely came from a single local supplier who bought canisters of illegally produced liquor in east Moravia in the spring and summer. The police were first alerted when one of the samples that was brought by the public last week to the University of West Bohemia in Plzeň tested for high levels of methanol. The trail of illegally sold alcohol led them to Domažlice, where the police discovered laced rum, vodka and other hard liquor. So far, no one in the Domažlice region was arrested in connection to the methanol scandal. In the whole country, 30 people have died since September, as a result of methanol poisoning.
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