Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oligarch who spent a decade behind bars in Russia after falling foul of President Vladimir Putin, is set to attend the Forum 2000 conference in Prague next month, organisers of the annual event announced on Tuesday. This year’s Forum 2000 is subtitled “Democracy and its Discontents: A Quarter-Century after the Iron Curtain and Tiananmen”, with Russia’s growing aggression set to be among the main talking points.
The Czech Republic is not planning to take part in air strikes against Islamic State radicals. The country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, and defence minister, Martin Stropnický, outlined the country’s position shortly after the US and five Arab allies launched strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria on Tuesday. The US had previously carried out air attacks on the group in Iraq. Mr. Sobotka said Prague welcomed efforts to stabilise the situation in Iraq, but did not expect to become involved in the military operations. He had earlier pointed out that the Czech Republic had sent munitions to Kurds in Iraq fighting Islamic State. Czech police chief Tomáš Tuhý said Islamists did not represent a threat to the Czech Republic at present, but Mr. Sobotka said the matter would be discussed by the Security Council.
An alleged “spirts mafia” based in South Moravia cost the Czech state CZK 6.7 billion in unpaid taxes, detectives said on Tuesday. The extent of the suspected tax evasion is unprecedented. The police have concluded their investigation into the matter and handed the 13,000-page file to the Supreme State Attorney in Olomouc. Radek Březina, a Zlín-based businessman, is accused of being behind the production of over 20 million litres of untaxed alcohol from the late 1990s on. He is one of seven people under investigation.
An ANO candidate standing in next month’s Senate elections who has appeared on billboards in a negligée says Czech health insurers should fully cover erectile-dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, the news website iDnes.cz reported. Laura Janáčková said at the launch of her programme on Tuesday that some men required the drugs as they were incapable of having quality sex lives otherwise. Ms. Janáčková, who is a psychologist, said she was inspired to appear in campaign materials in her underwear by an ad for the TV show Sex in the City.
The Prague 10 municipal authority has agreed to allow the soccer club Bohemians 1905 to remain at their Ďolíček stadium for 20 years for rent of one crown a year. The contract will be signed as soon as Prague 10 acquires the property from current owners Bohemia Real, the district’s mayor, Bohumil Zoufalík, said on Tuesday. The move comes a week after Prague mayor Tomáš Hudeček said there were plans to knock the stadium down, a claim described as “nonsense” by Mr. Zoufalík.
Priest and theologian Tomáš Halík has described statements about Islam made by President Miloš Zeman as stupid and populist. Speaking on Rádio Impuls on Monday, he said the two gravest threats today were Russian aggression and Islamic State militants. He said the latter had been condemned by Islamic authorities, which was something Mr. Zeman had failed to take into consideration. The president has been criticised in the past for his statements about Muslims, including saying that “Islamic ideology” was behind an attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels. The recipient of last year’s Templeton Prize, Tomáš Halík has himself been spoken about as a possible future candidate for head of state.
An oil painting by the Dutch master Rembrandt has gone on show at the Czech National Gallery after a one-year restoration job. The painting, entitled A Scholar in His Study, dates from 1634 and is among the most valuable pieces in the institution’s collections. The only Rembrandt painting owned by the National Gallery, it is on display at its Sternberg Palace location at Prague Castle.
The Czech Finance Ministry is drafting legislation to curb gambling, the daily Hospodářské noviny reports. The bill should introduce the limit of one gambling bar per 1,000 inhabitants, and will only allow casinos in towns of 40,000 or more inhabitants. The legislation will also ban gambling bars near schools, public offices, playgrounds and hospitals, and in historic urban reserves, and will require staff at gambling bars to check whether their clients are not welfare recipients. The draft legislation should be discussed by the government until the end of the year, and enter into force in January 2016.
Former Czech international Milan Baroš is close to signing a deal with his former club Baník Ostrava, the daily Sport reported on Tuesday. The 32-year-old striker, who most recently appeared for Turkish side Antalyaspor last December, was in the summer looking to join the newly formed Indian Super League but the plan was scrapped due to his knee injury. In the past, Baroš played for Liverpool, Aston Villa, Galatasaray and other clubs.
The Czech Olympic Committee has ruled that rider Roman Kreuziger did not breach anti-doping rules. In August, the Tinkoff-Saso rider was suspended by the International Cycling Union over irregularities in his biological passport registered in 2011 and 2012. However, the arbitration panel of the Czech Olympic Committee said on Monday that the anomalies did not exceed any limits. Monday’s verdict can be appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
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