News Culture ministry hit by major fine for accounting errors

15-07-2014 13:00 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Ministry of Culture has been fined almost half a billion crowns for a series of accounting and spending mistakes. The fine has been imposed by financial watchdogs over mistakes made between 2009 and 2013. These include using European funds for the restoration of some buildings when in fact it was diverted for others. For one of the lowest funded ministries, the fine is a major blow adding up to around 5 percent of its total yearly budget. The ministry says it will seek to appeal the fine though its chances of recouping the cash appear slim.

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Ministry bonuses for top staff rise in first six months compared with same period in 2014

29-07-2015 11:07 | Chris Johnstone

Bonus payments to top ministry officials have risen sharply in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period a year earlier, Czech Radio reported on Wednesday. Total bonuses rose by around 65 million crowns to reach almost 220 million crowns. The figure for the first half of 2014 was 155 million. Among the year on year increased spenders with total budgets almost doubled include the ministries of agriculture, foreign affairs, industry and trade, environment, and regional development. Ministers argue that the need to offer bonuses to motivate top staff and the bonuses are small compared with those in the private sector. 

Foreign minister’s Lebanon mission seen clarified by end of week

29-07-2015 11:07 | Chris Johnstone

It should be clear by the end of the week when Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek will go to Lebanon in connection with the five missing Czechs. Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronová gave the details Wednesday after a meeting of the crisis committee dealing with the case, the CTK news agency reported. Foreign ministry and intelligence experts are still assessing the latest details of the Czechs who went missing more than a week ago near the Syrian border, she said. Two Czech intelligence staff are already in Lebanon tracking the efforts of their local counterparts. The foreign minister admitted last week that no approaches from possible kidnappers had been received. 

Kuwaiti guests evacuated from Teplice hotel

29-07-2015 11:06 | Chris Johnstone

Firemen evacuated 87 people, mostly Kuwaiti guests, from the Plaza Hotel in Teplice, North Bohemia, after a fire broke out on Tuesday night. The guests were treated for smoke inhalation but were later allowed back on the premises. The fire was apparently caused by electrical equipment with the damage estimated at around 100,000 crowns. Another fire in the same district broke out two weeks ago when excavation work in the street damaged wires and sparked a fire. The worker was treated for burns in hospital. 

ANO considering psychological tests to forestall rebellions

29-07-2015 07:58 | Ian Willoughby

ANO are considering having their electoral candidates undergo psychological tests in order to prevent members winning election and then rebelling, the news website iHned.cz reported. The party’s number two Jaroslav Faltýnek said he envisaged the first 10 people on ANO’s candidate list in regional elections next year taking the four-hour test. Mr. Faltýnek presented the idea at a meeting after ANO’s representatives on two local councils went against the policies of the relatively new and small party. Chairman Andrej Babiš refused to comment on the idea, iHned.cz said. 

Plzeň and Sparta achieve positive results in Champions League qualifiers

29-07-2015 07:45 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech title-holders Viktoria Plzeň beat Maccabi TelAviv 2:1 away on Tuesday night in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie. The result leaves Plzeň in a good position ahead of next Wednesday’s second leg to decide a place in the final qualifying round of the prestigious competition. Sparta Prague were also in Champions League qualifying action and also scored two valuable away goals in their clash with CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital, which ended 2:2. 

PM calls on president not to spread animosity towards refugees

28-07-2015 16:53 | Ian Willoughby

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says President Miloš Zeman should not pander to people’s worst instincts and spread animosity towards refugees. He made the comments after his spokesman said on Tuesday that the president regretted that money could not be found for children’s homes while the amount that will go to help immigrants will be far higher. Mr. Sobotka said Mr. Zeman well knew that there was no connection between the indebted Klokánek children’s homes and the Czech Republic’s part in dealing with the worst refugee crisis since the end of WWII. 

Court rejects appeal in case of influential businessman Janoušek

28-07-2015 16:44 | Ian Willoughby

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal in the case of influential Prague businessman Roman Janoušek, who is serving a four and a half-year term for hit and run, the news website iDnes said on Tuesday, quoting a spokesperson for the Prague Municipal Court. The court said appeals applications from both the entrepreneur’s lawyer and the supreme state attorney were unjustified. Mr. Janoušek was found guilty of a hit and run incident in 2012. Wiretaps published in the Czech media created the impression that he had held considerable influence over politicians in the capital. 

Cardinal hits out at priest’s plan to take part in Prague Pride events

28-07-2015 16:24 | Ian Willoughby

The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Dominik Duka, has criticised priest Tomáš Halík’s plan to take part in events linked to the Prague Pride GLBT festival next month. Mr. Halík is due to host a discussion on the harassment of gays in the church and the screening of a documentary on a Polish homosexual priest. In a statement, Cardinal Duka said it would be inappropriate to hold those events as they were connected to a pride parade in which most participants were not Christians and were uninterested in improving relations with the church. Four years ago Mr. Halík described the parade as “fireworks of tastelessness and obscenity”. 

Group aiming to bring over 150 Iraqi Christians to Czech Republic

28-07-2015 14:24 | Ian Willoughby

The foundation Generace 21 is seeking to bring 152 Christian refugees from Iraq to the Czech Republic. The group, which works to help Christians in Iraq and Syria, said it had presented a list of names to the government and was now awaiting approval. The foundation says it will cover the costs of the refugees’ travel if the move gets the green light. Jan Dezort of Generace 21 said a genocide of Christians was taking place in Iraq and that his association could not stand by and watch. 

Zeman set to make second visit to China within year for WWII memorial events

28-07-2015 12:59 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, is planning a second visit to China within a year, Lidovky.cz reported on Tuesday. Mr. Zeman will attend events marking the end of World War II in the Pacific in Beijing at the beginning of September, the news website said. The celebrations will include a military parade but the president’s office has not specified which events he will take part in during the visit. The EU’s ambassador to China, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, said it was unlikely senior EU officials would attend the commemorations, AFP reported. 

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