The European Commission has approved a partnership agreement for European structural and investment funds submitted by the Czech government, the ctk news agency reports. The document which took three years to negotiate determines the investment strategy for the next six year period. The main areas for EU funding are infrastructure, science and research and the environment.
The police’s anti-organized crime squad on Monday raided the offices of Prague City Hall, the ctk news agency reported. Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček confirmed the report, saying that he had no information regarding what the police search related to. The present and past mayors as well as several high placed city hall officials have been charged in connection with dubious contracts linked to Prague’s Opencard, and the police have recently been checking out other tenders, in particular for those relating to the construction of Prague’s tunnel Blanka.
A charity concert is to be held on Wednesday to help raise money for the families of the five Czech soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan at the beginning of July. The event, in Prague’s Broadway theatre, will feature some of the country’s lead singers and an auction offering among others Jaromír Jágr’s hockey jersey and Lukáš Konečný’s boxing gloves. Charities have already raised 3.8 million crowns in support of this cause.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a travel warning for the Russian Rostov region, bordering on Ukraine and areas in the vicinity of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border which now present a high security risk. The ministry moreover warns that the Czech embassies in Yerevan and Baku are no longer able to provide assistance to Czech citizens on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas. Citizens who cannot put off trips have been advised to register with the ministry’s travel database DROZD.
The mayor of České Budějovice Juraj Thoma was attacked by a group of unknown perpetrators in the city center on Sunday and badly beaten up. He was taken to hospital for treatment. It is not yet clear what sparked the violence but according to the ctk news agency the physical attack was preceded by verbal insults. The mayor, who is recovering at home, is expected to issue a statement on the incident in the coming hours.
Monday sees the start of the 2014 Prague Pride Festival celebrating LGBT culture. The festival will see more than 100 events including a parade through the centre of the city. A performance by groups such as the Pet Shop Boys is also scheduled. This year's inception is the first to be taking place under the auspices of a government minister - Jiří Dienstbier,the minister for human rights. The overall theme of the festival is to rise up against homophobia.
Czech consumer prices returned to a growth in July, posting an annual rise of 0.5 percent, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Monday. The growth was fuelled by the higher prices of food, alcohol and tobacco products. Inflation was at 0.2 percent on the month. Bread, pork, poultry and egg prices went up, as did alcoholic beverages, up by 2.5 percent, and cigarettes, up by 4 percent.
Singer Michal Hrůza, who was critically injured in a fight outside an Ostrava bar two weeks ago, is being transported to a clinic in Bohemia for further medical treatment. Hrůza, who suffered serious brain damage and was in a coma for several days, is reportedly making progress and is getting help from a speech therapist. The singer was brutally beaten up by two young men who were engaged in a fight outside the bar which he had just left. When Hrůza tried to stop the fight and called the police the young men turned on him, beat him up and left him lying unconscious in the street.
Close to half of Czechs fear that the violence in Ukraine could spiral into a world conflict, according to the results of a poll conducted by the Median agency. 46 percent of respondents said that of the present hotbeds of tension around the world the conflict in Ukraine presented the biggest threat to the Czech Republic. A third of respondents said the government should re-introduce compulsory military service.
Members of the ruling coalition - the Social Democrats, ANO, and the Christian Democrats - will meet for the next cabinet meeting in two weeks, on August 27. Until then, members of the cabinet are officially off for summer vacation, beginning Monday. Prior to taking time off, the coalition agreed to adjourn an extraordinary session of the lower house, where new civil service legislation was being debated. Otherwise, MPs would have had to meet again this week. The Czech News Agency notes that two weeks of official vacation is the norm, not met for example last year after the fall of the Něcas government, when an interim government was named and sought support during the summer.
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