In an interview for the Czech Press Agency, President Miloš Zeman said on Thursday said that he expects some parties to vote for the caretaker government in a confidence vote. The president has been meeting with representatives of parties in the lower house of parliament since Sunday in an effort to shore up support for the caretaker cabinet, which he named two weeks ago. He also said that in case Jiří Rusnok’s cabinet does not get the support in parliament, he expected the former center-right coalition to provide him with a list of 101 signatures from deputies who would support the old coalition, verified by a notary, before he would consider giving the coalition of Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and LIDEM party to attempt to form a new government. Deputy chairwoman of the Civic Democratic party, Miroslava Němcová, who is expected to lead the possible reincarnation of the old coalition, said that the parliament should deny the president’s request outright.
The Prague City Hall announced that the current calculation of the damages caused by this year’s flooding in the capital is more than four billion crowns. Around 2.2 billion were damages to municipal property, while around two million crowns worth of damages were registered on private property. The city hall presented this calculation to the Finance Ministry on Wednesday, though deputy mayor Jiří Vávra said the number may rise. The largest damages were to waterways infrastructure, roadways, monuments and the Prague zoo.
Jiří Rusnok’s caretaker cabinet has named Radek Augustin head of the Office of the Government. Mr. Augustin is the deputy chairman and the head of the Olomouc branch of President Miloš Zeman’s Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPOZ). He will be replacing Lubomír Poul, who was arrested in June along with the then prime minister’s chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová, as a possible witness to illegal spying. Mr. Poul was later released without charges. Commenting on the current government’s choice for the head of its office, the chairwoman of the lower house of parliament Miroslava Němcová said that it is clear that Zeman’s government is trying to give Zeman’s party all the support it needs for the next parliamentary elections.
The cabinet has decided to withdraw a bill on state prosecutors, which was approved by the previous government of Petr Nečas and went through a first reading in the lower house earlier this year. Justice Minister Marie Benešová said that she wants to revise the bill and resubmit it. Specifically, Mrs. Benešová wants state prosecutors to have their own budget, to give them greater independence, and, for example, to debate the length of the term for the highest state prosecutor. According to the current bill, the high state prosecutors’ offices in Prague and Olomouc would be abolished and a new anti-corruption division created. Former justice minister Pavel Blažek, Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman and Prague High State Attorney Lenka Bradáčová have criticized Mrs. Benešová’s move as counterproductive.
Authorities in Saxony have accused Czechs of releasing toxic waste into the Elbe river, which flows through Germany. The Environment Minister of Saxony, Frank Kupfer, told the German newspaper Bild that between 2010 and 2013 there were at least 20 instances of water pollution on the Czech side. The newspaper claims substances such as motor oil or potassium carbonate leaked into the river and the Czech authorities subsequently failed to warn residents downstream and the authorities in Germany.
The Czech Republic has placed in the top quarter of the 107 countries included in The Economist’s Global Food Security Index for 2013. The country placed 23rd with 72.2 out of 100 points, having been ranked according to three categories –affordability, availability and quality and safety of food. In the overall rating, the United States was in first place, while the Czech Republic’s neighbor Germany was in 12th, Austria in 15th and Poland in 27th place. In the individual categories, the quality and availability of food in the Czech Republic put the country in 26th place.
A water pipe burst in Prague 8 on Wednesday morning, leaving some 50 thousand residents of northern part of the city without running water. The neighborhoods of Střížkov, Prosek, Kobylisy, Ďáblice and parts of Libeň and Vysočany have no accesses to running water as of Wednesday afternoon. Authorities said that the repairs may last until Thursday morning. The spokesman for Prague waterways company said that the most likely cause of the accident is soil movement due to dry weather.
A kangaroo escaped from the backyard of its owner on Tuesday night near the north Bohemian town of Lovosice. The owner found a hole in the fence and his pet kangaroo missing on Wednesday morning after being alerted by the police that a kangaroo had been spotted in nearby villages. Although a number of people are reported to have seen the kangaroo named Joey, no one captured him and the owner recruited a friend with a private helicopter to help him look for the animal.
The English rock band Depeche Mode performed at a jammed Eden soccer stadium in Prague on Tuesday evening. The group, who are affectionately known as “Depešáci” by their Czech fans, first played in the city in 1988 and have performed here on many occasions since. Depeche Mode performed material from their most recent LP, Delta Machine, as well as many songs from a career spanning over three decades.
Viktoria Plzeň have progressed to the third qualification round of soccer’s prestigious Champions League. The West Bohemian club beat Željezničar Sarajevo 2:1 away on Tuesday, with first half strikes from Tomáš Wágner and Milan Petržela helping earn them a 6:3 aggregate result. Plzeň will face now Estonia’s Kalju for a place in the fourth and final qualifying round. The club reached the Champions League for the first time two years ago and last season topped a group in the Europa League that also included Italy’s Napoli.
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