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17-03-2018

Czech ministers deny country is source for nerve agent used in British attack

Czech foreign minister Martin Stropnický has refuted Russian claims that the nerve agent believed to have been responsible for injuries to a former double agent and his daughter in Britain could have come from the Czech Republic.

Russia’s foreign ministry named the Czech Republic along with Slovakia, Britain, Sweden, and the United States as possible sources of the nerve agent used in the attack.

Stropnický said the Russian accusation was an example of how information could be manipulated.

Czech defence minister Karla Šlechtová also hit back at the Russian claims pointing out that Prague was a long time signatory of international conventions banning the use of such nerves gases.

Britain has said Russia is probably responsible for the attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter that took place in Salisbury around two weeks ago.

Czech presidential aides investigate fate of CEFC head in Shanghai

Criticism has been sparked by confirmation from the Czech president’s office that some of his closest aides have travelled to China to find out the circumstances surrounding the head of the Chinese company CEFC.

The president’s office confirmed Friday that chancellor Vratislav Mynář and economic advisor Martin Nejedlý have flown to Shanghai to find out what has happened to the head of the company Je Jianming who is believed to be under scrutiny for possible corruption.

CEFC was the Chinese company that spearheaded a wave of Chinese investment in the Czech Republic but many of the deals now appear threatened or are on hold. Je Jianming also has the status of advisor to Czech president Miloš Zeman.

The Czech delegation was reported to have returned to Prague on Saturday to brief president Zeman.

Some Czech politicians have said it is totally inappropriate that Czechs should be trying to delve into internal Chinese affairs and have called for a parliamentary committee to raise the issue, according to public broadcaster Czech Television.

Czech criminal Radovan Krejčíř’s extradition cleared by South African court: report

Czech criminal Radovan Krejčíř can be extradited from South Africa to the Czech Republic according to a local court, Czech Television, citing local media, reported Saturday.

The broadcaster added that the last word on the issue will be with the South African justice minister who will have 180 days to deliver a decision.

South African media say Krejčíř’s return to his homeland could save the country millions of rand in stepped up security costs. Krejčíř has made several attempts to escape from prison in South Africa. At the same time though he is serving a 35 year sentence for attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, and drug dealing.

The Czech fled to South Africa in 2007 after criminal charges were brought against him in his homeland. He has been sentenced for a series of multi-million crown cases of fraud. Krejčíř has asked for asylum in South Africa.

Czech ombudswoman says women only rail compartments not discriminatory

Women’s only compartments in some trains operated by Czech state rail company, Czech Railways, does not amount to discrimination according to Czech ombudswoman Anna Šabatová.

The compartments amount to a legitimate move to try and increase the safety on women when travelling, she explained. Several complaints against the compartments, sometimes almost empty when the rest of the train is full, have been lodged with Šabatová’s office.

Czech Railways introduced the compartments in 2012 following the example of some foreign rail companies. Czech Railways said only a very few seats on trains were reserved exclusively in this way for women.

Vítkovice Engineering starts insolvency proceedings

One of the Czech Republic’s flagship engineering companies, Vítkovice Engineering, has said it has itself proposed insolvency proceedings. The move was indicated Friday by details on the insolvency register.

Vítkovice Engineering early this week appeared to be lined up for a lifeline from the arms company of Czech businessman Jaroslav Strnad. He however announced midweek that he intended to invest in another part of the Vítkovice Group, Vítkovice Heavy Engineering. That move has been approved by a court.

Vítkovice Engineering employs around 650 in and around Ostrava. Many of them have been sent home since January and are waiting for unpaid wages. Operations at the firm have been interrupted because there is not enough cash to pay for raw materials or key components.

Social Democrats target five ministries in ANO coalition

The leader of the Social Democrats (ČSSD) Jan Hamáček has said the party would be looking to have at least five ministries under its control if it formed a minority with the ANO party of acting prime minister Andrej Babiš.

Hamáček has refused to say which ministries would be targeted but suggested that they would correspond with the party’s priorities or where ANO was perceived to have a conflict of interest. The latter could include the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Interior given the fact Babiš faces charges for subsidy fraud in connection with the so-called Stork’s Nest affair.

Babiš has said his priority is now a minority government with the Social Democrats supported by the communists.

Speed skater Karolína Erbanová wins first world cup 500 metres in Minsk

Czech speed skater Karolína Erbanová took first place in the 500 metres world cup finals event in Minsk, Belarus, on Saturday. She came in a tenth of a second ahead of second placed Vanessa Herzog from Austria.

Erbanová with that win now occupies second place in the overall rankings, four points behind Japan’s Nao Kodaira, with more events to take place over the weekend. Kodaira is not competing in Minsk.

Erbanová won a bronze medal in the South Kprea Olympics in the same event.

Weather

Sunday is expected to be cloudy with sunny intervals. Daytime temperatures will range between zero and minus five degrees Celsius.

17-03-2018