News Babiš responds to prime minister
The country’s Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has responded sharply to an earlier statement by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka suggesting he should give up all business activities. In a radio broadcast, he said the prime minister was free to recall him from his post or even to find a new coalition partner. Mr Babiš has stepped down as the head of the Agrofert Group, a food, agriculture, chemistry and media conglomerate, to avoid potential conflict-of-interest. However, he retains full ownership, which critics charge is still highly problematic.
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A charity run to raise money for the families of the five Czech soldiers killed in Afghanistan at the beginning of June will take place on Saturday in the town of Chrudim, the site of the military base where four of them trained. The 3-kilometre run, in which many of their fellow servicemen will take part, is to start from the Cloister Gardens on Ressel Square at 10 pm and will end outside the barracks of the 43rd Airborne Mechanised Battalion in Chrudim. It is the last of a series of charity events which raised 4.5 million crowns for the soldiers’ families.
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Trade Minister Jan Mládek on Thursday met with the country’s business leaders to discuss the impact of the sanctions against Russia and consider alternative outlets for Czech export products. Minister Mládek said that while seen on a macroeconomic scale the potential losses were not significant firms entirely dependent on the Russian market could have serious problems. According to the minister Czech exporters might find new opportunities in Belorussia, Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan. The Czech foreign and trade ministries have been cooperating to help minimize the impact of the sanctions on the export-dependent Czech economy.
The city council of Ustí nad Labem has approved a land sale which will enable a Spanish automotive supplier to build a factory in the Triangle industrial zone near Žatec, in the north-west of the country. The construction of the plant is expected to begin next spring and the initial investment has been put at 247 million crowns. The plant should provide jobs for around 125 people.
Police are investigating the death of a patient in Rumburk hospital, the ctk news agency reports. The patient died under suspicious circumstances at the beginning of June and the hospital subsequently filed a criminal complaint against one of its nurses. The police are now looking into the deaths of other patients who were in her care. The hospital management is to reveal more information on the case at a press briefing scheduled for Friday.
Deputy Ombudsman Stanislav Křeček has criticized the state for failing to adequately protect the country’s cultural heritage. In connection with a highly-publicized case of a protected building in Ostrava which was allowed to go to ruin without anyone being held responsible, Křeček has urged a tightening of the law which would hold the state responsible for the repair and maintenance of cultural monuments which their owners cannot afford to undertake, and seek financial compensation at a later stage. According to official statistics over 700 of the country’s 40 thousand cultural monuments are in urgent need of repair.
Evžen Sedlář, the central figure in a drug abuse case which resulted in the death of an 18-year-old-boy in March of this year, has admitted responsibility for his death. Sedlář gave the victim and another friend of his drugs, transdermal painkillers and alcohol to experiment with at a party. Sedlář, who admitted his guilt in court on Thursday, could face up to 18 years in prison. The incident, which ended in tragedy, was recorded on a mobile phone by one of the participants.
Organic food chains in the Czech Republic are planning to expand into production since local farmers are allegedly unable to meet growing demand on the market. According to David Kukla, owner of the Sklizeno chain, there is a lack of home-grown organic vegetables and poultry in particular and shoppers cannot rely on regular deliveries. The chain Náš Grunt, which has 30 outlets around the country, is also planning to expand into production.
Police in the Náchod region of north Bohemia are investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old boy who was fatally injured on a football field after swinging on a goalpost and getting trapped under it. Despite getting immediate medical attention the boy died shortly after of extensive internal injuries. Police are investigating the incident as possible negligence on the part of the authorities who failed to properly secure the goalpost. Since 2009 three children have been killed by falling goalposts.
The Czech Republic on Wednesday commemorates the 46th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. A series of events held to mark the anniversary include a chain hunger strike and a gathering outside the Czech Radio building which saw clashes between civilian protesters and the occupying forces. The invasion of five Warsaw Pact armies quashed efforts by Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party to reform the regime in a period known as the Prague Spring, ushering in an era of renewed repression lasting until the late 1980s.
The Czech Supreme Court has ruled that parents of children of up to 15 years of age are entitled to part-time jobs, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported. Hearing a case of a clerk of Liberec City Hall who was fired over insisting on working part time, the court said employers had to accommodate parents’ requests for part-time contracts unless it would jeopardize the functioning of the firm or office. The verdict is seen as a breakthrough in the practice of Czech employers who have in the past been reluctant in granting part-time contracts to their employees.