Czech President Miloš Zeman addressed a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. In his first address to MEPs, Mr Zeman expressed support for the earliest possible adoption of the euro by the Czech Republic. He also criticized what he considers as the EU’s excessive bureaucracy, transfers of MEPs between Brussels and Strasbourg, the architecture of EU buildings and other issues. The Czech president later met with the European Parliament speaker, Martin Schulz, as well as Czech MEPs.
The Czech government will provide treatment to 23 Ukrainians injured during the bloody anti-government protests in Kiev, a spokesman for the Czech Interior Ministry said on Wednesday. Czech authorities will on Thursday dispatch to airplanes to bring the injured protesters to Prague. The costs of the programme have been estimated at 10 million crowns. The Ukrainian citizens, who mostly suffered gunshot wounds, will be treated in Prague’s Motol and General University hospitals.
The Czech government on Wednesday rejected bills on referendum and the legalization of prostitution. The minister for human rights and equal opportunities, Jiří Dienstbier said the proposal to legalize prostitution, as put forth by Prague City Hall, contradicted the country’s international obligations. The bill on referendum, proposed by the opposition Dawn party, meanwhile, was rejected as it could undermine the Czech constitutional system, Mr Dienstbier said.
Brno City Hall on Wednesday approved a deal with a construction firm to build a distribution centre for the US-based online retailer on the outskirts of the city. The project was halted two weeks over disputes concerning the site of the planned building; negotiations only moved ahead after the construction company CTP Invest agreed to buy the land and hand it over the city. The agreement is yet to be approved by Brno municipal assembly which is scheduled to discuss it on March 18.
The Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes has quit a European network of similar organizations, a spokesman for the institute said on Wednesday. The Czech agency, which among other things administers the files of the former communist secret police, left the Platform of European Memory and Conscience over a dispute about whether or not it employs former communist officials. The European platform in January suspended the membership of the Czech institute which was one of its founding members.
The mobile phone operator Telefónica Czech Republic’s net profit dropped by 16 percent to 5.7 billion crowns last year, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The firm’s revenues decreased by 6.5 percent to 47.37 billion crowns; however, the number of its clients rose by 130,000, reaching 5.1 million. The company’s management will propose a dividend between 18 and 30 crowns per share. Telefónica, the largest Czech mobile operator, was last year acquired by the PPF investment group.
Prague City Hall on Wednesday launched a massive blackout exercise simulating a 72-hour long power outage, the authorities said. The police, fire fighters and other parts of the city’s emergency response systems are testing Prague’s preparedness for similar situations. The exercise, which will not affect life in the city, will end at 6 PM on Friday; institutions such as government offices and foreign embassies which do not fall under the authority of the capital are not included in the simulation.
Ex-boss of lottery firm Sazka accused of attempted embezzlement
The police have charged former CEO of the Czech betting and lottery firm Sazka, Aleš Hušák, with attempted fraud. Investigators believe Mr Hušák attempted to cash a promissory note worth 50 million crowns allegedly issued by two of his former business partners. however, a court said last year the origin of the document was unclear, and rejected Mr Hušák’s claim. If convicted, the former Sazka boss could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Former army generals cleared of property mismanagement charges
The Czech Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared two former army generals Rostislav Mazurek and Radoslav Rotrekl of property mismanagement charges. The men had landed suspended sentences over their roles in overseeing dubious acquisitions of hats, towels, shirts and other material for the Czech army. The top court however said the former generals were in charge of strategic planning rather than acquisitions; the court also found the men had no personal gain from the purchases.
Family members, army officials, veterans and members of the public bid last farewell to Miroslav Štandera, a WWII veteran of the Royal Air Force, in Plzeň on Wednesday. General Štandera died on Wednesday at the age of 95; he was the last surviving Czech fighter pilot who took part in the Battle of Britain. Czech Air Force commander Libor Štěfánik said Mr Štandera’s demise marked the end of a significant generation of Czech pilots who fought the Nazis during the Second World War.
The Czech Ice Hockey Association has appointed Vladimír Růžička new coach of the national team. Růžička, who also coaches the first team of Slavia Prague, returns to the national team after four years. During his previous tenures, he coached the national team to two world championship titles. Vladimír Růžička replaces Alois Hadamczik who quit earlier this week in the wake of the team’s poor performance at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.