Finance Minister Jan Fischer, whose election campaign debts were recently covered by sponsors, has asked them to clarify the source of the money donated. Mr. Fischer said that if this was not done he would return the finances. The finance minister, who incurred a 3.5 million crown debt in the course of his presidential election campaign earlier this year, has come under fire for producing the necessary funds from sponsors, among them large donations in cash, soon after it became known he would get a lucrative position in the new caretaker government.
The first ever quintuplets born in the Czech Republic should be allowed to leave Prague’s Podolí maternity hospital by the end of this month, iDnes.cz reported. The news website said the infants could go home for the first time to the central Bohemian town of Milovice as three of the five now weigh more than five kilogrammes. A week ago they were moved from incubators to the room of their mother, Alexandra Kiňová, who is 23. There was great media attention surrounding the children’s birth six weeks ago.
Five people were injured, three of them seriously, in a highway accident involving a Czech tourist bus in Serbia in the early hours of Monday. The accident happened southeast of Belgrade at around 3 am. The bus was carrying a group of Czech tourists on their way back from holiday in Turkey. Two of the injured remain in a coma in a hospital in Belgrade. The cause of the accident is being investigated. The driver himself was among the seriously injured.
TOP 09 has said it will propose an amendment to the Constitution limiting the powers of the president. The centre-right party said on Monday it was ready to consult the amendment with all parties in the lower house and wanted to table it within a fortnights’ time. The move stems from widespread anger over President Zeman’s decision to ignore Parliament and appoint a prime minister designate of his own choice. Both the right and left wing parties are unhappy with the development and accuse the president of setting up his own puppet administration.
The police monitored the home of former Prague mayor Pavel Bém for nearly a fortnight earlier this year due to suspicions that CZK 100 million arising from alleged criminal activities was going to be stolen from the building, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday. The surveillance operation was ordered by the police’s organised crime unit after it received information that the cash, which was stored in sports bags in the basement of Mr. Bém’s villa, was going to be stolen in mid April, the newspaper said. The theft – which in the end never took place – was allegedly planned by two police officers, who thought that it would not be reported as the money had been acquired illegally.
The army’s CASA transport planes have successfully passed all flight tests and may now be deployed in foreign missions, Czech Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek told journalists in Prague on Monday. The 3.5 billion crowns purchase of four Spanish CASA transport planes in 2009 has been dogged by problems. The planes’ passive protection system against missiles was found to be defective, failing 7 out of 17 tests and an independent auditor later concluded the purchase had been overpriced. After two years of repairs, fresh tests have now shown that the planes’ protection system is fully operational and the planes’ Spanish supplier is paying the defense ministry 20 million crowns in compensation for the problems.
The chairman of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, says it would be nonsensical to drag his party into a “war” with President Miloš Zeman. Speaking on a TV debate show, Mr. Sobotka said that would weaken the Social Democrats and was just what rival parties wished to see. The head of Mr. Zeman’s office, Vratislav Mynář, recently described Mr. Sobotka as weak for allegedly being inconsist. The latter said on Sunday that Mr. Mynář was a public servant and ought not to be politically active. While Mr. Sobotka has in the past said that the dissolution of parliament is the only way forward in the current political situation, some elements of his party believed to have closer ties to the president (who formerly headed the Social Democrats) have suggested they should consider voting for an interim cabinet backed by the president if a vote on dissolving the lower house fails next Wednesday.
Sunday marks the 200th anniversary of birth of the pioneering Czech traveller Čeněk Paclt. Born in Turnov in east Bohemia on 14 July 1813, Paclt was the first Czech to visit all the globe’s inhabited continents. He fought with the U.S. army in the Mexican-American War and was a gold miner in India and Australia before dying in South Africa at the age of 73.
The former Czech foreign minister, TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, has suggested that the recent actions of President Miloš Zeman, who appointed an interim government despite the wishes of some parliamentary parties, represent an attempt to usurp state power. In an interview for an Austrian newspaper on Sunday, Mr. Schwarzenberg compared Mr. Zeman’s interpretation of the constitution to that of the Nazis in Germany in 1933 and the Communists in Czechoslovakia in 1948. Michal Hašek of the president’s former party the Social Democrats called for an apology from Mr. Schwarzenberg, who Mr. Zeman defeated to become head of state in an election in January.
The chairwoman of the Energy Regulatory Office, Alena Vitásková, has been provided with police protection after an attack on her while she was driving, the news website Týden.cz said. She reported that another driver had attempted to force her car off a motorway in April. The police and the secret service are investigating the incident. Under Ms. Vitásková’s leadership, the energy authority has launched extensive audits and investigated alleged inflated solar power prices; she has also been critical of a financial support for bio-fuel stations that are due to be connected the national grid next year.
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