The campaign account of unsuccessful presidential candidate Jan Fischer has received over CZK 5 million in donations in the last week. A former interim prime minister, Mr. Fischer is set to become minister of finance and deputy prime minister in a caretaker cabinet headed by Jiří Rusnok. Mr. Fischer had pledged to clear his campaign debts – which recently stood at around CZK 5 million – before taking up the new post; he said the names of his sponsors were made public on his presidential campaign website.
Jan Fischer’s selection means the line-up of the Rusnok cabinet is complete. The interim government will be appointed on Wednesday, from which point it will have 30 days to win a confidence vote in the lower house. If, as many expect, it fails to win backing, President Miloš Zeman can task a new prime minister with forming a government. However, there is no deadline under which he would have to take such a step. If the president’s second nominee is also unsuccessful, the chair of the lower house gets to choose a prime minister.
Only five of the 17 members of the outgoing cabinet of Petr Nečas paid a farewell visit to President Zeman at Prague Castle on Monday evening. Among those who failed to attend were all of the ministers from the TOP 09 party, while among those who did was Vlastimil Picek, who will hold on to the defence portfolio in the cabinet of Jiří Rusnok. Mr. Nečas’s government, which was due to rule until next spring, fell last month after his close aide was charged in connection with a spying and corruption scandal.
The Supreme State Attorney’s Office has dismissed police charges against the former minister of health Tomáš Julínek. He had been facing charges of abuse of office and breach of trust for outsourcing air rescue services to a private company. However, a spokesperson for the Supreme State Attorney’s Office said the police would need to produce more evidence if they want to pursue the matter further. Mr. Julínek, who was arrested in April, has described as absurd the accusation that he cost the state nearly CZK 800 million by getting private contractors to supply air rescue services; they had previously been provided by the defence and interior ministries via the army and the police.
Officials in České Budějovice organised a public meeting on Tuesday in a bid to resolve racial tensions in the South Bohemian city, which has recently seen two large demonstrations against the Roma minority. The gathering, at a local sports arena, was attended by around 600 people. At the weekend over 150 people were detained during violent protests that centred on a neighbourhood in the city with a high percentage of Roma residents; the clashes followed a fight at a children’s playground there last month.
Fifteen percent of Czechs have encountered bribery in the public sector in the last year, suggests a new survey released by the watchdog group Transparency International. In the same report, 21 percent of Slovaks said they had come across bribery in the public sector in the previous 12 months, while the figure for the U.K. was five percent. The poll indicates that bribery is worst in the health sector in the Czech Republic, with over half of respondents saying they had given a bribe in order to receive better or speedier medical treatment.
Eight people suffered injuries when a motorist drove through a level crossing barrier and hit a passing freight train near the village of Cítov in central Bohemia on Monday night. All of those wounded were in the car; three suffered serious injuries and were airlifted to hospital. Police said the young driver had a high level of alcohol in his blood at the time of the accident; he is likely to face criminal charges.
Architects, preservationists and artists are planning a protest on Tuesday evening against the demolition of the Hotel Praha in Prague 6. Supporters say the 1980s building, which has a concrete exterior, is of significant architectural value and should be left standing. However, the PPF group, which bought it last month, plans to knock it down later this year to make way for a private park for its elite Open Gate school.
The Union of Film Distributors says 18 new Czech movies will be given cinema releases in the second half of 2013. The first of them will be Alice Nellis’s comedy Revival, which picked up the viewer’s prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday night. Among the other significant releases, at the start of next month a restored version of Vojtěch Jasný’s 1969 masterpiece All My Good Countrymen will start screening at art house cinemas. And Jan Hřebejk’s Honeymoon, which earned him the Best Director prize in Karlovy Vary, comes out on August 22.
The Olomouc high state attorney has asked the lower house to strip outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas of his immunity, opening the way for possible prosecution. The request is presently being debated by the mandate and immunity committee of the Chamber of Deputies, ahead of a vote in the lower house. It comes in connection with a corruption and spying scandal in which the outgoing prime minister’s former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyova is heavily implicated. Eight people were arrested in connection with the scandal, among them three MPs from the prime minister’s own party. The prime minister resigned over the scandal and said he was ready to give evidence.
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