News Andrej Babiš StB agent libel cases reopens in Bratislava

15-05-2014 11:04 | Chris Johnstone

The court case pitting ANO party leader and current Czech minister of finance Andrej Babiš and the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute, which keeps the archives of the former Communist era secret police, continued in Bratislava on Thursday. Babiš launched the court proceedings in an attempt to clear his name after the institute said he was identified as having been signed up as a police agent under the cover name Bureš. During the previous court session in mid-April a former top StB police officer said Babiš had not been recruited in the 1980’s and a reported meeting never took place. The director of the Slovak institute told Czech Television on Thursday that references to Bureš featured on 12 separate occasions in the archives and it was inconceivable that the case had been fabricated.

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Cycling: arbitration court upholds temporary ban for Kreuziger

20-08-2014 17:26 | Jan Richter

The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a temporary ban for Czech bike rider Roman Kreuziger over doping allegations. The ruling confirms a decision by the International Cycling Union to temporarily suspend the 28-year-old member of the Russian-registered Tinkoff-Saxo team until irregularities in his biological passport are cleared. It means that Kreuziger, who has been unable to compete since June, will not participate in the Vuelta a España race that begins on Saturday. In a reaction on Twitter, Kreuziger said he would continue to fight the ban. 

Green Party ordered to pay compensation for lyrics used in campaign

20-08-2014 17:12 | Jan Richter

A court in Prague has ruled that the Green Party must pay 500,000 crowns, or some 24,000 US dollars, to the author of a song lyrics the group used in their election campaign in 2010. The party used the slogan “And what about children, do they have a place to play” which was featured in a 1980 song by the Czech rock band Katapult. The band allowed the party to use the song but the Greens never asked the author of the lyrics for permission. The author, who now runs a law firm, claimed one of clients, an industrial company, stopped working with him after the Green Party used the slogan. The court has also ordered the party to publicly apologize to the author of the lyrics. 

Prague police crack Ukrainian prostitute murder

20-08-2014 15:30 | Jan Richter

The police in Prague have charged 34-year-old man from Ukraine with the July murder of a prostitute who also originated from that country. The police said the man, who was the victim’s next-door neighbour, was addicted to online gaming but could not afford an internet connection. He secretly used the woman’s computer but when she caught him in her flat, he killed her with a knife. He then chopped her body whose parts were found in several waste management facilities in the capital. The police said they were able to determine the woman’s identity with the help of their German colleagues who kept a record of the woman’s fingerprints. The man has reportedly confessed to the crime; if convicted, he faces between 10 and 18 years in prison. 

Transparency International to monitor financing of Senate, local elections

20-08-2014 14:12 | Jan Richter

The Czech branch of the global anti-corruption group Transparency International will monitor the financing of October’s local and Senate elections, members of the group told a news conference on Wednesday. The NGO will keep track of the finance accounts of candidates running for the Senate; it will also monitor any abuse of municipally-owned media by political parties controlling local city and town halls. The group has voiced concerns of voter fraud and vote buying that is likely to appear in some of the country’s most depressed regions including north Bohemia and north Moravia. A report is to be released in late September, two weeks before the voting. 

Former Soviet leader Gorbachev among Forum 2000 guests this year

20-08-2014 13:08 | Jan Richter

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Belarusian dissident Ales Bialiatski will be among the guests of this year’s Forum 2000 conference, the organizers said on Wednesday. The event, founded by then Czech president Václav Havel in 1996 as a venue for bringing together world leaders, intellectuals and civic activists, will this year reflect on the 25 years since the fall of communism in central and Eastern Europe. The Forum 2000 conference will take place in the Czech capital between October 12 and 15. 

Škoda to hire 800 workers to produce new Fabia model

20-08-2014 12:50 | Jan Richter

The German-owned Czech-based car manufacturer Škoda Auto will hire some 800 workers for its main plant in Mladá Boleslav within the next three months to produce its new Fabia model, a spokesman for the firm said. Škoda, which employs around 19,500 people at Mladá Boleslav, is to start producing the third-generation Fabia in the coming days with the official premiere scheduled for the Paris auto show in October. The producer sold 522,500 cars in the first half of the year, 12.5 percent more than in the same period last year. 

Top court orders review of former bankruptcy judge case

20-08-2014 12:24 | Jan Richter

The Czech Supreme Court has ordered the review of a case involving a former bankruptcy judge, Jiří Berka that was partially covered by a presidential amnesty, Czech TV reported on Wednesday. Mr Berka along with two associates faced accusations of sending up to 10 firms into bankruptcy on using counterfeit documents, causing damages worth 264 million crowns. Some of the charges were dropped due to an amnesty declared by then president Václav Klaus in January 2013. The Supreme Court has now ordered the case be heard again by a lower court. 

Industry group: Czech firms to lose dozens of billions over EU-Russia sanctions

20-08-2014 12:01 | Jan Richter

Czech industrial firms could lose tens of billions of crowns over the short term due to sanctions between Russia and the EU, according to a survey by the country’s Confederation of Industry among their member companies. In the long run, the losses could amount to hundreds of billions, the group said. The machinery, energy, chemical and petrochemical sectors as well as agriculture technology and food industry are likely to suffer most due to the sanctions, according to the survey. The Czech government’s estimate of potential losses is much lower, of around 2.1 billion crowns but the industry group says Czech companies’ sales to partners in Western Europe could also be affected by the sanctions. 

Archaeologists discover foundations of possible Byzantine-era church at Prague’s Vyšehrad

20-08-2014 08:18 | Ian Willoughby

Archaeologists have discovered the foundations of the oldest church yet found at Prague’s Vyšehrad, Czech Television reported. It would have been one of the largest churches in Central Europe in its day. Ladislav Varadzin of the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences told Czech TV that its shape indicated it probably originated during the Byzantium Empire. The foundations were discovered around 150 metres from the main basilica at Vyšehrad, a historical fort probably built in the 10th century. The complex’s St. Martin’s Rotunda was previously believed to have been the first church there. 

Communist MP criticised by supporters for liking Plastic People

20-08-2014 07:48 | Ian Willoughby

Communist Party deputy chairman Jiří Dolejš has come in for criticism from some supporters for posting a photo of the band The Plastic People of the Universe on his Facebook page, the news website iDnes.cz reported. Members of the then underground group were imprisoned under the communist regime and they had strong links to the dissident movement. The MP shared a picture of the Plastic People on the social networking site, adding the word “legend”. Beneath this followers wrote comments such as “Why are you a Communist MP? Your legend was against socialism” and “junkies with unmelodic lyrics”. 

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