The Czech lower house gave overwhelming backing on Wednesday to a conflict of interest proposal which will curb the business activities of ministers. The re-shaped bill will prevent companies at least 25 percent owned by a minister from winning public contracts or getting state aid. In addition, it will ban them from owning radio and television stations and newspapers. The latter move is seen as targeting ANO leader Andrej Babiš. He owns two nationwide newspapers and the country’s most popular radio station. The bill was supported by 135 of the 183 lawmakers present with 39, overwhelmingly from the ANO party, against. ANO members have said they will appeal to the Constitutional Court against the move. The bill now heads though to the upper house, the Senate.
Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka has welcomed proposals from the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker to boost European defense. In a state of the union speech, the Commission president said more should be done to boost cooperation between defense companies. He said an EU defense fund aimed at promoting innovation should be created by the end of the year. He also back further steps by national governments to pool their defense capabilities saying that Europe could not ‘piggy back’ on the US. The Czech prime minister has made defense one of his key topics at the Bratislava informal summit on Friday. Mr. Sobotka also referred to the Commission president’s comments on the EU’s external borders and pointed out that the Czech Republic is prepared to help Bulgaria police its borders.
Seven people have been charged in connection with the so-called methanol affairs in which almost 50 people died in the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries after drinking contaminated bootleg alcohol. The fresh charges stem from the Olomouc State Attorney’s Office and focus on a group connected with the Drak spirits company which allegedly sold he contaminated spirits. The accused face charges of being members of an organized criminal group and dodging tax. Eight people were found guilty in the core methanol court case in December last year. The scandal erupted in 2012.
Former Arsenal and Czech midfield star Tomáš Rosický will not take part in his new club, Sparta’s Prague’s, Europa League away game at English club Southampton on Thursday night. The 35-year-old says that he needs more time to regain match fitness. Rosický came on for 20 minutes on Saturday in the Prague club’s 2:2 draw against Mladá Boleslav. Given an ecstatic reception by the home crowd, Rosický was unable to break the deadlock.
Former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, has cancelled a planned visit to Prague for health reasons, organisers of a conference he was due to attend announced on Wednesday. His doctors have urged him to stay in Moscow. Gorbachev was due in Prague between 16 and 18 September to take part in an international conference dealing with the future of Europe and security threats. He was also due to meet with Czech president Miloš Zeman. A speech prepared by the last leader of the Soviet Union will be recorded and read out. The 85 year old has been suffering from sporadic ill health. The conference will feature former British foreign secretary David Owen and former Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan.
Czech dominant domestic power company ČEZ said Wednesday that it has revised its target for the second reactor at Temelín to start producing power again. The company, which is around 70 percent state owner, said on September 8 that it expected a two week outage to check on turbine systems. That target has now been put back to October 1. The reactor previously returned to service for around one day after an outage lasting from the start of June. The Temelín power plant is a sore point with neighbouring Austria particularly after the many early problems following its commission.
In football, former Czech national coach Michal Bílek has been appointed as the manager of top Czech league club Jihlava. Bílek managed the Czech national team from 2009 to 2013. Earlier, he took Sparta Prague to a league and cup double in 2007. The 52-year-old’s last management post was at Georgian club Dynamo Tiblisi. Jihlava are currently struggling near the bottom of the top Czech league with just two points from the first six games.
Czech painter and graphic artist Jiří Anderle is the subject of a retrospective exhibition at Prague’s Obecní Dům at which 80 of his works of art will be presented. Anderle celebrates his 80th birthday on September 14. The artist has been the subject of many exhibitions both at home and internationally.
Czechs have picked up two more bronze medals at the Paralympics. In table tennis, Jiří Suchanek beat French opponent Stephane Molliens for the third spot in the competition. Later, Eva Berná in the shotput took third place with a throw of 11.23 metres. It is her fifth Paralympics and fourth bronze medal after coming third at the Athens, Beijing and London games.
Wednesday is the 85th birthday of the great Czech novelist and playwright Ivan Klíma. The Prague-born author, whose best-known novels include Love and Garbage and Judge on Trial, spent part of his childhood in the Terezín concentration camp. Following the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia he became a banned writer, publishing in samizdat. His most recent work was the acclaimed autobiography My Crazy Century, which came out in English in 2013.
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