The state budget in 2015 ended with a deficit of 62.8 billion crowns, which is 37.2 billion less than the approved deficit for the year, finance minister Andrej Babiš announced at a press conference on Tuesday. It is the best budget result since 2008. According to Mr Babiš, economic recovery and better functioning of the financial administration were among the major factors behind the favourable result. The approved budget for 2016 envisages a deficit of 70 billion crowns, which is 30 billion lower than was planned for last year.
The Czech Prime Minister’s private e-mail account was probably targeted by far-right hackers, lidovky.cz reported on Tuesday. According to the daily, the hackers stole about eighty private as well as work-related e-mails. The spokesman for the government, Martin Ayrer, confirmed that the case is being investigated by the police. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka was already targeted by hackers a few weeks ago, when they tweeted racist and neo-Nazi statements on his Twitter account.
Police have charged Adam Bartoš, right wing-journalist and head of a fringe nationalist party No to Brussels – National Democracy, and his colleague Ladislav Zemánek with hate speech. Last year, the two men visited the grave of Anežka Hrůzová, whose murder in 1899 triggered a massive anti-Semitic campaign, with a sign saying that the murder “united the Czech nation and showed the need to solve the Jewish Question, which has not been sufficiently dealt with to date”. The Jewish man accused of the murder, Leopold Hilsner, spent 19 years in prison without any direct evidence against him. The criminal complaint was filed by Michal Doležel, a councillor in Brno and member of the civic association Žít Brno.
Czech skier Šárka Strachová has finished second in a slalom World Cup event in Italy’s Santa Caterina, achieving the best result of the season. The 30-year-old former world champion finished a second behind Nina Löseth of Norway. Slovakia’s Veronika Velez-Zuzulová finished in third place. Šárka Strachová is currently fourth overall in the World Cup standings.
The National Security Office has rejected an appeal from the president’s chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, over the office’ s rejection of his application for top level security clearance, Czech Television reported on Tuesday, adding that Mr Mynář will now appeal the decision at a court. Mr Mynář previously said that he expected the verdict. The spokesman of the president, Jiří Ovčáček, told the Czech News Agency on Tuesday that Miloš Zeman will not dismiss the chancellor until he has exhausted all avenues of appeal, including at the Supreme Administrative Court.
The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has started investigating the Agrofert Group, an agro-chemical company owned by Finance Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš, on suspicion of fraud, the news site Neovlivni.cz reported on Tuesday. According to the website, Agrofert has used hidden lobbying in state administration to change the regulations for drawing EU subsidies in their favour. Several EU institutions received an anonymous warning concerning Agrofert’s alleged activities in this respect at the end of last year. The European Commission has confirmed OLAF’s involvement in the investigation. Meanwhile, Agrofert has rejected the accusations.
A Czech diplomat has been sent to Sudan to deal with the case of a Czech citizen who went missing in the country’s capital, Khartoum, on December 9, Czech daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. The name of the 52-year old Czech, Petr Jašek, has been listed in the Interpol database. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronová told the daily that the ministry has been involved in the case and confirmed that the man was alive. According to the daily, Mr Jašek travelled to Sudan for religious purposes and was arrested by local police. The daily also said that Czech diplomats have already established contact with Sudanian authorities.
The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra commemorated its 120th anniversary with a special concert in Prague’s Rudolfinum on Tuesday night. The programme was almost identical with the opening concert on January 4, 1896, which was conducted by Antonín Dvořák himself. The Czech Philharmonic, under the baton of its Chief Conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, performed Dvořák’s works, including Othello overture, Biblical songs and New World Symphony. Among the guests of honour in the sold-out Rudolfinum concert hall was the grandson of Antonín Dvořák.
Snowfall on Monday across much of the Czech Republic – the first of the new year – complicated conditions on Czech roads. Most major roads have been chemically treated and are accessible. Motorists have been asked to drive with caution in areas where snow has not yet been cleared; meteorologists have warned of possible black ice in places.
The Brno district of Maloměřice-Obřany has opened a new sports centre which cost almost 32 million crowns. The centre is to be used by used by teachers and children from the adjacent elementary school but will also be used for ball sports and as a space for arts and culture. The sports centre was largely funded from European funds; two million crowns were provided by the local district council.
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