Leftist European leaders have agreed to back the nomination of former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker to head the European Commission. The next head will succeed Jose Manuel Barroso. Speaking to the Czech News Agency after meeting with French President Francois Hollande and other leftist leaders in Paris, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the European Left, as he saw it, would expect visible posts in the next commission in return for its support and would seek the post of speaker of the European Parliament.
The Chamber of Deputies on Friday passed legislation which will make it more difficult to tow vehicles in No Parking zones or areas where motorists parked without a permit or paying. Under the amendment to the traffic law, police will first to have to apply a wheel clamp, commonly known as a Denver or parking boot, giving car owners 24 hours to respond. Vehicles will only be towed after that if owners failed to contact the police. The changes will effectively prevent MPs and senators from ever having their cars towed: under the law, police are not allowed to use parking boots on lawmakers’ vehicles. The bill will still have to be approved by the Senate.
An audit commissioned by the finance officer of ČVUT Jan Gazda has uncovered numerous dubious transactions by the Service Facilities Administration at the university. Czech daily Lidové noviny writes that between 2007 and 2011 there were dozens of legal transgressions, from overpriced purchases to machinations in public tenders to a failure to properly end contracts. The damages have been estimated in the tens of millions of crowns, says the paper. Police are conducting an investigation after the university filed charges against unknown perpetrators.
An arbitration court had not yet reached a final decision in the Blanka Tunnel case, in which the construction firm Metrostav and the City of Prague are at odds. The court did approve a list of items to be completed at the cost of 40 million crowns, Deputy Mayor Jiří Nouza told the Czech News Agency. An earlier court decision stated that Prague had to pay a remaining 4 billion crowns, while Metrostav had to complete the tunnel by September. No opening date for the tunnel has yet been set and will hinge on the installation of technology for the running of the entire complex.
A traffic accident on Friday afternoon saw marked delays on the D1 highway from Prague in the direction of Brno. The crash, involving two vehicles, was not serious but took place in an area undergoing reconstruction not far from the capital. Movement along the highway slowed to a crawl, with cars becoming backed up six kilometers. Traffic jams on the D1 have become a regular occurrence since an extensive and long-planned renovation of parts of the highway began. Motorists, especially on peak days, are advised to monitor the situation either over the internet or the airwaves, to try and avoid long delays.
Former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil has given up his post as an MP in the Czech Chamber of Deputies. Pospíšil, a former Civic Democrat who joined the centre-right party TOP 09, was one of four TOP 09 candidates in May elected to European Parliament. In all in the European elections, 21 MPs representing the Czech Republic were elected. Pospíšil is expected to be replaced by former Civic Democrat MP Vladislav Vilímec.
A Czech national who appeared in a broadcast on Russian television taking part in a pro-Russian demonstration in Ukraine, could face legal difficulties upon his return home, the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes reports. In the video, the man - dressed in battle fatigues - introduced himself as Ivo Stjeskal from Brno and claimed he had travelled to Ukraine to help fight alongside pro-Russian separatists defending Donbas. The Czech daily points out that the national, reportedly a former elementary school gym teacher, was not only required to respect Ukrainian but also Czech law. According to the Czech Justice Ministry, the Czech may have broken the law by illegally serving in a foreign army, a crime which carries a potential five-year sentence.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS the Czech Republic should lift visas as quickly as possible for citizens of the Russian federation. He expressed the opinion in connection with sanctions faced by Russia over the Ukraine crisis, saying he saw no reason for the EU to isolate Russia. Nor did he see the need for sanctions, blockades or embargoes. Mr Zeman expressed the view that isolation had never led to success but only deepened misunderstanding and mistrust. The president’s spokesman pointed out that Mr Zeman’s view that economic sanctions were “counterproductive” is one that he has long held. The head of the Czech Association of Travel Agencies confirmed, meanwhile, that the Czech Republic has seen 40 percent fewer Russian tourists this year, due in part to developments in Ukraine, but also, due to the lengthy protocol and cost of obtaining a visa.
US Internet giant Amazon has given up plans to build a distribution centre in a Brno industrial zone and is looking for other locality in Central and Eastern Europe, Amazon´s spokesman for the Czech Republic Karel Taschner has told the Czech News Agency. Amazon was promising investment of almost 3 billion crowns and creation of 1,500 jobs in Brno. Locals, however, expressed concern over increased road traffic which they consider to be beyond tenable already. The Amazon spokesman for the Czech Republic made clear that Amazon was still open to looking for further opportunities in the Czech Republic, given European market growth. One project is going ahead: the construction of Amazon´s distribution centre in Dobroviz near Prague, set to begin in the near future.
The Prague State Attorneys’ office has filed a suit against 15 people in the Opencard case, among them former and current city councilors and a former as well as the current mayor. The Opencard scandal concerns dubious public tenders and work carried out to develop a multipurpose data card for the city. Current Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček and former mayor Bohuslav Svoboda as well as council members are suspected of breaking fair competition rules and abuse of public office. All those implicated have maintained they are innocent.