News Court clears ex-defence minister accused of soliciting large bribe

14-05-2014 14:05 | Ian Willoughby

Prague Municipal Court has cleared a former minister of defence, Martin Barták, of bribe-taking in connection with the purchase of Tatra all-terrain vehicles for the Czech army. A co-defendant, armaments manufacturer Michal Smrž, was cleared of attempted fraud. Mr. Barták had been accused of asking the chairman of Tatra’s supervisory board for a bribe of USD 5 million to smooth a deal to buy nearly 600 all-terrain vehicles in 2008 while he was deputy minister of defence. The supervisory board chairman was William Cabannis, a former US ambassador to Prague.

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Czech facing deportation after security breach at US Army facility

21-04-2015 14:24 | Ian Willoughby

A Czech man is facing deportation from the United States after a security breach at a military facility in the country, AP reported. The agency said it was not clear why Petr Cífka had attempted to drive a truck into the Picatinny Arsenal U.S. Army installation in New Jersey State last Friday. A US Army official told CBS New York that the 46-year-old had an expired passport. He was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

Ministry survey: Czech GDP should grow around 2.5 percent annually to 2018

21-04-2015 13:49 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech economy should grow by around 2.5 percent annually in the coming year, according to a regular Ministry of Finance survey compiling the views of 20 institutions in the field of economics. Gross domestic product should expand by 2.4 percent in 2015, 2.6 percent in the following two years and 2.5 percent in 2018, according to the experts consulted. The Ministry of Finance itself expects growth of 2.7 percent this year. 

Group of female MPs demand quotas for women in politics

21-04-2015 13:41 | Ian Willoughby

A cross-party group of female MPs has called on the Czech government to support quotas for women in politics. Deputies from the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, the Communists and the Greens want it to be obligatory for candidates lists in elections to be half made up of women. They say that a century after women got the vote only around a fifth of elected representatives in the Czech Republic are female. The government is already planning to discuss legislation that would make it compulsory for the first two names on candidates lists to be a man and a woman; at least one of the following three names would have to belong to a woman. 

National Library ordered to compensate architecture firm beaten by Kaplický’s “Blob”

21-04-2015 13:34 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech National Library has been ordered to pay compensation to an architecture studio that argued a design by the late Jan Kaplický should not have won a tender to build a new building for the institution. A court ordered that the National Library pay HŠH architecti CZK 2.9 million for choosing Mr. Kaplický’s design even though it did not meet the requirements of the competition in 2007. The latter’s futuristic design, nicknamed “the Blob”, divided opinion and in the end was never built. The National Library may appeal Tuesday’s verdict. 

Childhood home of Jan Palach to become memorial

21-04-2015 11:52 | Ian Willoughby

The childhood home of Jan Palach is to be turned into a memorial to the student who burned himself to death in January 1969 to protest against apathy in the face of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia that began the previous August. The National Museum has acquired the building in the Central Bohemian village of Všetaty and plans to hold a tender process for its renovation, which should be completed in 2018. 

Poll: 85 percent of Czechs against adoption of euro in near future

21-04-2015 11:44 | Ian Willoughby

Some 85 percent of Czechs are opposed to the adoption of the common European currency within the next two years, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the agency Ipsos. Twelve percent are for joining the eurozone in a short time-frame, the survey indicates. University graduates were the group of respondents most likely to be in favour. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says the nearest possible term for the Czech Republic to adopt the euro is 2020, though his government has no official target date. 

Ex-foreign minister says Russian president wants control over whole of Ukraine

21-04-2015 09:05 | Jan Velinger

Karel Schwarzenberg, the head of the centre-right TOP 09 and former minister of foreign affairs, has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants control over the whole of Ukraine, adding that eventually the Russian leader would succeed. Mr Schwarzenberg made the comments during a debate focusing on security in the Baltics on Monday. He made clear he did not see ceasefire agreements in Minsk as stopping Moscow’s plans. Stefan Fuele, the former European commissioner for EU enlargement, in the same debate said Russia saw intervention in Ukraine as a means of reaching the same power level as the United States. 

Ukrainian authorities detain Czech tourists who entered exclusion zone at Chernobyl

21-04-2015 08:44 | Jan Velinger

Ukrainian police detained three Czech tourists who entered a 30 kilometre wide area known as the exclusion zone surrounding the site of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster in 1986. The news was released by the Rosbalt agency, which cited the interior ministry. The three Czechs, two men and one woman, are between the ages of 25 and 33. They face a fine for entering an area restricted due to radiation. 

Sobotka in agreement with foreign minister over Night Wolves’ journey

20-04-2015 18:37 | Jan Velinger

A planned journey across Europe by Russia's Night Wolves (a motorcycle gang with close ties to the Kremlin) Europe is a reaction by the Russian government to the recent passage of a US convoy across Czech territory and other NATO states, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists after meeting his Polish counterpart Ewa Kopacz on Monday. The prime minister said he agreed with the view held by Foreign Minister Zaorálek that the move was a provocation. The Night Wolves want to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s victory over the Nazi Germany by a road trip through Russia, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany from April 25 to May 9. The Night Wolves are close to Russian President Vladimir Putin who awarded members medals after they patrolled Crimea. The club supported calls for the “reintegration” of Crimea into Russia in 2014. 

Czechs, Poles to cooperate in water management, gas, motorways

20-04-2015 16:58 | Jan Velinger

The Czech Republic and Poland will cooperate in water management along their joint border according to an agreement that the two countries' environment ministers, Richard Brabec and Maciej Grabowski, signed following inter-government consultations on Monday. Mr Brabec said the agreement will accelerate a joint reaction to possible floods and the pollution of water courses. The agreement on cooperation in water management along the border replaces a valid agreement which former Czechoslovakia and Poland signed in 1958. In addition to environment protection, the participants in the third Czech-Polish inter-government consultations also discussed cooperation in energy and transport. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the two countries want to submit a joint application in Brussels for the funding of the future connection of the R11 express road and the Polish S3. They must file the application during 2016, he said. 



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