Czech painter and illustrator Karel Franta has died in Prague at the age of 89. Franta was known mainly for his illustrations of children’s books. He won many prizes for them, including the Grand Prix of UNICEF in Frankfurt am Main for the best illustration of 1986. In 1994, he was recognised internationally by being listed on the International Board of Books for Young People. An exhibition of paintings and drawings by Karel Franta is opening this weekend in the north Bohemian town of Lomnice nad Popelkou.
The administration of Krkonoše National Park has limited access to some areas of the park to protect it against an invasion of blueberry pickers. The measure, which will affect around 15 percent of the park’s protected area, was introduced on Thursday and will stay in force until October 15. Those who are caught breaking the ban face a fine of up to 10,000 crowns.
A trial centred on the alleged offering of bribes to politicians begins at the Prague 1 district court on Thursday. Petr Nečas, his now wife and former senior assistant Jana Nečasová and ex-deputy agriculture minister Roman Boček are accused of offering “jobs for the boys” to three then Civic Democrat MPs in exchange for their support of legislation in 2012, when Mr. Nečas was party leader and prime minister. The case helped lead to the fall of Mr. Nečas’s government the following year. Civic Democrats Marek Šnajdr, Ivan Fuksa and Petr Tluchoř resigned as MPs shortly after opposing their party on a crucial vote, allowing the government to survive. Two of them received lucrative posts at state companies soon afterwards.
Radovan Krejčíř was moved to South Africa’s most secure prison last month after the authorities uncovered an escape plot by the Czech mafia boss, the South African news website Times Live reported on Thursday. Krejčír is serving a 35-year jail term for attempted murder, kidnap and drug running. Last week he lodged a complaint against what he called inhuman conditions at the eBongweni C-Max prison. However, prison service officials said he had been transferred there after a security breach. Krejčír is reported to have planned prison escapes several times in the past. He fled investigation in the Czech Republic in 2005 and later became one of South Africa’s most notorious criminals.
The price of flats and houses in the Czech Republic grew by 12.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, according to figures released by Eurostat on Wednesday. This was the fastest growth rate in the entire EU in the first three months of 2016. Analyst Lukáš Kovanda of the company Cyrrus told the Czech News Agency that the reasons for the rise were excessively slow building planning processes in the Czech Republic, as well as increased demand caused by low interest rates stemming from the central bank’s now discontinued weak crown policy.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has been called as a witness in a criminal case linked to the privatisation of the OKD mining company. Mr. Sobotka was minister of finance when OKD was sold off in 2004. The state prosecutor says the CZK 4.1 billion received by the Czech state from buyers Karbon Invest was less than half the real value of the mining firm. Two months after the sale Karbon Invest sold OKD to magnate Zdeněk Bakala’s RPG Industries for a price reported at between CZK 9 billion and CZK 12 billion. The expert who assessed the value of the state’s share in the company and two former senior people at the state agency that oversaw the sale are on trial for misconduct. The prime minister is due to appear in court on September 1.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says he and the leaders of the other three Visegrad states supported the improvement and deepening of relations between the European Union and Israel at a meeting with their Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Budapest on Wednesday. Mr. Sobotka tweeted that the EU and Israel were connected by historical ties, democratic values and economic interests. The Czech leader also said that he had backed cooperation with Israel in the fields of security, cyber-security, innovation, science and research during the meeting in the Hungarian capital.
The Czech crown on Wednesday reached its highest level against the euro since November 2013, when the Czech National Bank launched a currency intervention policy aimed at keeping the crown weak. According to Patria Finance, the crown stood at 26.02 to the euro on Wednesday morning. Under the central bank’s weak crown policy – which came to an end in April – the exchange rate hovered around the 27 to the euro mark.
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