A console table by designer Carlo Bugatti was sold at auction for one million crowns by the Zezula auction house in Brno on Saturday, the ctk news agency reported. The rare piece was sold to a private bidder from abroad. The starting price was 950,000 crowns. The oriental-like table is made of different types of wood, carved and inlaid with mother-of-pearl and decorated with a parchment painting of an exotic landscape with birds.
Anti-immigration groups organized a symbolic blockade of three Czech border crossings on Saturday. Close to two hundred people gathered at Cinovec on the Czech-German border, among them members of the Block against Islam, the Dawn party and the German Pegida. The organizers of the protest claim the authorities are not doing enough to fight mandatory quotas and “Islamic terrorism”. Several dozen protesters gathered at the České Velenice crossing with Austria but allowed drivers to pass in both directions. The protest at Kraslice on the Czech-German border held up drivers predominantly on the Czech side, since the German police diverted traffic. An anti-immigration protest also took place outside the Social Democratic Party headquarters in Prague.
The leadership of the Social Democratic Party on Saturday approved a
package of austerity measures which should help cover the 337 million crown
fine the party was ordered to pay its former lawyer Zdenek Altner by the
Prague Municipal Court. It plans to reduce the number of its employees,
save on campaigning in the autumn regional and Senate elections and has
appealed for members to make individual contributions. This year the party
aims to save 55 million crowns.
The Social Democrats lost a drawn-out dispute with Altner regarding the fee for his services in a court case over the ownership of Lidový Dum, the party’s long-time headquarters in Prague. The 337 million crown contractual fine is the result of interest building up over the past 16 years. The Social Democratic Party has lodged an appellate review request with the Supreme Court regarding a verdict by the Prague Municipal Court but this does not suspend the enforcement of the verdict and the party has taken out a loan in order to be able to pay the money.
Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych has demanded an apology from the ctk news
agency after it reported that he was one of close to 300 Czechs on the
Panama Papers list. In an interview for Mlada fronta Dnes Berdych said that
the mistake had been driven by a hunger for sensationalism. According to
the player the ctk inaccurately cited a report by the Czech Centre for
Investigative Journalism which has been analyzing the Panama Papers files.
Mlada fronta Dnes writes that the tenuous link to Berdych was Petr Skopal an agent for a network of solar power plants whose reportedly name appears on the said files. Tomas Berdych co-owns one of the solar plants. “I know Petr Skopal, but we do not co-own property. I have nothing whatsoever to do with the Panama Papers scandal.” Berdych told the paper. The ctk news agency corrected its report on Thursday.
Apology: Czech Radio would like to apologize to Mr. Tomáš Berdych that we mistakenly reported in a news item on April 5, 2016 that his name appeared in the Panama Papers database. The name of Mr. Tomáš Berdych does not appear on the pages that we indicated: https://www.investigace.cz/panamapapers, and, according to other available information does not appear on the Panama Papers database. Link to CTK apology: http://www.ctk.eu/news/?id=2508
The Plzen region will have to return 97 million crowns in EU subsidies due to irregularities in a public tender for the construction of a hospital, according to the Czech Finance Ministry. This amounts to a quarter of the overall subsidy granted. It is not clear if the region will try to appeal the decision or how it would raise the funds. The irregularities in the 2008 tender were uncovered during an audit by the Finance Ministry. The regional administration then dominated by the right-wing Civic Democrats allegedly picked the winning company within hours of unsealing the offers in order to award the tender to the firm of its choice ahead of a change of guard in the wake of elections.
The Czech Republic is obliged to readmit 25 Iraqi refugees who attempted to move to Germany last weekend, according to the German authorities. They have reminded Prague that the obligation stems from European readmission agreements. The German side officially requested readmission for the group on Thursday but the Czech Republic refused to comply on the grounds that the German readmission request had formal shortcomings and was not fully in line with European legislation. The group of 25 Christian refugees from Iraq arrived in the Czech Republic within a government supported relocation program for 150 refugees initiated and financed by the NGO Generation 21. However after a few weeks here they gave up their refugee status and hired a bus to take them to Germany where they asked for asylum. The government later decided to cancel the program.
Cardinal Dominik Duka has said that abortions are a worse evil than the terrorist attacks Europe experienced in recent weeks. In a text published on the news site aktuaulne.cz the cardinal says that while people are horrified by the deaths of hundreds of civilians in terrorist attacks, they forget about the thousands of unborn children killed by abortions. He says that while he sympathizes with pregnant women in difficult circumstances, this does not give them the right to abort the child they are carrying. In an online poll conducted by novinky.cz close to 90 percent of readers disagree with the cardinal.
The Finance Ministry is planning to reduce the state budget deficit to 30 billion crowns by 2019, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said at a press conference in Prague on Friday. Mr. Babiš said that next year he would aim for a deficit of 60 billion, 50 billion the year after, and 30 billion in 2019. The finance minister said he expected tough negotiations over finances, stressing that investment would be a chief priority.
According to the weekly Respekt, the Office for Protection of Public Officials headed by Jiri Komorous was behind a highly publicized incident at Prague’s Film Faculty FAMU when two police officers allegedly asked the dean of the faculty to remove a Tibetan flag hoisted during a recent visit to Prague by the Chinese president. The weekly claims that the order came from a hi-placed officer at the Office for Protection of Public Officials. Komorous has denied the allegations saying the office would shortly make a statement. The incident has aroused fierce criticism and there have been demands for a thorough investigation.
The Czech Republic will not for the time being take back the 25 Iraqi refugees who left the country for Germany last week on the grounds that the German readmission request has formal shortcomings and in not fully in line with European legislation, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said on Friday. The group of 25 Christian refugees from Iraq arrived in the Czech Republic within a government supported relocation program for 150 refugees initiated and financed by the NGO Generation 21. However after a few weeks here they gave up their refugee status and hired a bus to take them to Germany where they asked for asylum. The government later decided to cancel the program.
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