The Ministry of Culture has pronounced the former prison Cejl in Brno a cultural heritage monument, the city’s deputy mayor Matěj Hollan told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. The city, which owns the building together with a private owner, can appeal the verdict within the next 15 days. The city council plans to turn the run-down and long abandoned building, which dates from the 18th century, into a creative centre worth hundreds of millions crowns. The decision of the ministry would increase the costs of the reconstruction by millions of crowns.
Heavy rain is expected to hit some parts of the Czech Republic, namely the regions of Hradec Králové and Liberec, on Wednesday evening. According to the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute, up to 60 millimetres of rainfall can be expected in the mountain regions in the north of the country. Meteorologists also warned of rising water levels on some of the country’s rivers. The warning is in place until Thursday evening.
A boulevard in Kiev will probably be named after former Czech president and playwright Václav Havel, the news site ukranews reported on Wednesday. Kiev city hall has launched a public poll to find a new name for a street which is currently named after the Bolshevik revolutionary Ivan Lepse. So far “Havel’s Boulevard” is heading the public poll with over 3,000 votes out of 5,429 cast. On the other hand, some 2,000 people expressed their opposition to changing the street name.
Companies that sponsor political parties are more successful in public tenders, suggests a study carried out by IDEA think tank at CERGE-EI, which was presented on Wednesday. The authors of the study looked into over 56,000 public tenders announced between the years 2007 and 2013, which were published in the Journal of Public Contracts. The donors were given more than 9,250 contracts, which is 16.3 percent of the overall amount. According to the study’s authors, some 3,500 private companies donated nearly 750 million crowns to political parties over the period.
The financial authority in Pelhřimov will be investigating the funding of the Stork’s Nest farm and conference centre, owned by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, the news site Neovlivni.cz reported on Wednesday. The centre was at the centre of a scandal earlier this year over suspicions that it received European grants for a 50 million-crown project which it should not have qualified for. The minister later revealed that the farm and centre was owned by his daughters and the brother of his current partner when it received the funds. The financial authority will allegedly look into whether Mr Babiš did not violate the law against money laundering when transferring the farm’s ownership in what is now seen as a highly expedient move.
Former lobbyist Marek Dalík is to report to prison to begin serving his four-year sentence for corruption, the news site aktualne.cz reported on Wednesday. Dalík, who was a close associate of former prime minister Mirek Topolánek in the second half of the last decade, was found guilty of corruption in a case involving the purchase of armoured vehicles for the Czech Army from the Austrian arms manufacturer Steyr. He demanded a bribe of 500 million crowns to ensure that the lucrative order was won by the Austrian firm. Mr Dalík’s defence lawyer Tomáš Sokol said he had already received the court’s appeal, but refused to say whether his client would demand suspension of the sentence.
The government is set to debate a pay rise for teachers and other school staff by the end of the summer holidays, Education Minister Kateřina Valachová said on Wednesday after a meeting with school union representatives and leaders of the coalition parties. The government previously agreed to raise teachers’ salaries by 8.0 percent as of January 2017, but the unions were negotiating a possibile increase in wages this year. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said after Wednesday’s meeting that he was going to search for more money in the budget to raise the wages of teachers and other school staff already in September.
The Czech police is currently employing some 40,000 people, according to data released by the Police Presidium. That total is 25 percent higher than in 1991, when the new law on police came into force. The highest number of employees, over 47,000, worked for the police force in 2005. The Police Presidium is planning to draft 4,000 new police officers over the next four years to tackle the growing number of crimes, including extremism, terrorism and cyber criminality. The strengthening of the police force is expected to cost over 8.0 billion crowns.
One-hundred and five athletes from the Czech Republic will represent the country at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. For the first time in 20 years there are no teams in the group, which is the smallest for a summer Olympics since the formation of the independent Czech Republic. Among the nominees, which were approved by the Czech Olympic Committee in a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday evening, are the four athletes who took gold in London in 2012: Barbora Špotáková, Miroslava Topinková Knapková, David Svoboda and Jaroslav Kulhavý.
The number of foreign workers in the Czech Republic has more than tripled in the last 15 years, according to a new government report. Three-quarters of non-native employees are from the European Union and therefore do not require work permits; the highest number are from Slovakia. At the end of last year there were 323,000 such workers in the country; that figure was nearly 40,000 higher than in 2008, when the financial crisis began.
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