News Anti-monopoly agency approves sale of Ringier Axel Springer CZ media group

27-02-2014 11:09 | Jan Richter

The Czech Office for the Protection of Competition has approved the acquisition of the Ringier Axel Springer media group by businessmen Daniel Křetínký and Patrik Tkáč, office’s director Peter Rafaj said on Friday. The anti-monopoly agency said the acquisition would not substantially distort economic competition. The transaction, which was announced last December, was estimated at 4.7 billion crowns. Ringier Axel Springer CZ publishes the Czech Republic’s biggest selling daily, the tabloid Blesk, along with several other publications. In 2012

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Czech Army plans for worsening situation in Ukraine

25-04-2014 08:09 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Army has plans to move up to 1,200 soldiers to the border of the Czech Republic to help police protect it if the situation in Ukraine worsens significantly, the newspaper Hospodářské Noviny reported on Friday. Planned Czech reactions, including protection of key installations such as nuclear reactors, would amount to the biggest manoeuvres since 2001. Chief of the General Staff Petr Pavel told the paper that a wave of emigration could be sparked by conflict and problems could also occur with the large Ukrainian population resident in the Czech Republic. There are no plans for a direct NATO intervention in Ukraine, he added. 

Lev Praha allow Magnitogorsk to draw KHL finals series

25-04-2014 07:56 | Chris Johnstone

In ice hockey, Lev Praha failed to take a decisive lead in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) finals with defensive errors in the third period allowing Magnitogorsk to take the match 5:3 and tie the best of seven series 2:2. The game had been drawn at 3:3 going into the final period. In spite of late pressure, Lev failed to claw back any goals. The series now moves to Russia with game five scheduled for Saturday. A Czech record KHL audience of just over 17,000 watched the match. 

Eastern Partnership conference convenes in Prague

24-04-2014 18:54 updated | Chris Johnstone

Czech president Miloš Zeman is hosting a two day conference in Prague starting Thursday on the European Union’s relations with states from the former Soviet Union, the so-called Eastern Partnership. At least nine presidents are scheduled to take part, including those of Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Ukraine’s acting foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia is also expected to attend. The Eastern Partnership was created five years ago with the then Czech presidency of the European Council a major impulse behind the move. 

Viral success for spoof report aimed at encouraging Czechs to vote in Euro elections

24-04-2014 17:59 | Chris Johnstone

A spoof television report aimed at encouraging young Czechs to vote in May’s upcoming European elections has become a viral hit viewed by more than 200,000 people. The report tells the fictional tale about how the Czech Republic lost out on the chance to claim 1o kilometres of Croatian coastline because members of the European Parliament failed to take part in a vote. The message is that Czech borders now extend to the EU’s frontiers and that there are a sea of reasons to take part in the elections. The video was put together by the Open Society Foundation’s Prague branch. 

President Zeman suggests possible mediation in Ukraine crisis

24-04-2014 15:23 | Chris Johnstone

In his opening speech Eastern Partnership conference speech, President Zeman called on representatives to consider what sort of offer as intermediaries they could make in the current tension between Ukraine and Russia. The situation there could escalate into either invasion or civil war, and perhaps both, he warned. It would be too late for meaningful mediation if there were thousands of dead on each side it, Zeman said. The Eastern Partnership was a long term process which, while not laying down the foundation for EU membership, did seek to ensure that the EU had good neighbours on its borders, the Czech president added. 

Czech-Slovak government meeting seeks targets defence, transport, and tax cooperation

24-04-2014 14:58 | Chris Johnstone

A joint meeting of Czech and Slovak governments on Thursday in Slovakia has resulted in agreements to step up cooperation in the fight against tax evasion, transport links, and joint defence. The two countries will create a coordinator who will look at ways how the countries can better fight tax evasion. They have also set the target of filling out plans for common defence of their airspace by the end of the year. This could include the joint purchase of some equipment. As well as the meeting between Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka and his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico, bilateral meetings between nearly all government ministers took place. The next meeting should take place in 2015, probably in Moravia. 

Karlovy Vary regional boss says will defy party instructions over multiple posts

24-04-2014 14:13 updated | Chris Johnstone

Meanwhile the head of the Karlovy Vary region and member of parliament Josef Novotný has said he will hang onto both posts in defiance of the Social Democrat Party instructions. Novotný said it is a plus for the region that he is also a member of parliament since it gave him access to other elected members and ministers. He added that the party’s position was discriminatory and that there is nothing in the Czech constitution preventing the accumulation of different political functions. 

Police seek to bring Opencard cases to court

24-04-2014 13:25 | Chris Johnstone

Police have called for charges to be pressed against members of Prague city council’s executive body over the so-called Opencard scandal. The scandal concerns dubious public tenders and work carried out to develop a multipurpose data card for the city. Current Prague mayor Tomáš Hudeček and former mayor Bohuslav Svoboda as well as council members are suspected of breaking fair competition rules and abuse of public office. All those implicated say they are innocent. Prague’s public prosecutors’ office must now decide if the case goes to court, the office’s spokeswoman said. 

Excavations take place a site of possible execution following WWII

24-04-2014 12:39 | Chris Johnstone

Excavations are continuing at a village near the north eastern town of Trutnov where the remains of three bodies have already been uncovered. The bodies are believed to be those of ethnic Germans executed at the village of Rudník in June 1945 for illegal possession of weapons. Czech police are investigating the case as possible murder. Bones were discovered during work on a cycle path and sports area. 

Overall economic confidence higher in April thanks to consumers

24-04-2014 12:16 | Chris Johnstone

Economic confidence in the Czech Republic firmed slightly in April compared with March according to a survey by the Czech Statistics Office. The composite economic confidence index advanced by 0.2 percentage points to 92.6 points. Consumer confidence showed the biggest jump of 1.7 points to 98.4 points whereas business confidence slipped by 0.1 point to 91.5 points. 

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