News Czech government wants to join criminal prosecution in Promopro case
The Czech government wants to join the criminal prosecution in the ongoing case involving the company Promopro which won a controversial public order for the supply of audio-visual equipment during the Czech EU presidency in 2009. The state is claiming 338 million crowns in damages, the amount by which the order was allegedly overpriced. The suspects have been charged with scheming in a public tender and auction, abuse of power and breach of trust. Alexander Vondra, who was responsible for the preparation of the Czech EU presidency and who was defence minister in 2010-2012, has not been charged.
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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.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has insisted that Czech moves to reset relations with China does not mean that it has abandoned its defence of human rights. Defence of human rights remained once of the country’s fundamental principles of foreign policy according to the minister, the Czech News Agency reported. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Wednesday that Prague could not recognise the sovereignty and unity of China within its current borders and at the same time recognise the exiled government of Tibet. The Czech Republic should not intervene in China’s internal affairs, he added. The government agreed that Zaorálek would make a three day official trip to Beijing at the start of next week, the first by a Czech foreign minister in 15 years. Former foreign minister and leader of the TOP 09 party Karel Schwarzenberg said human rights were violated in Tibet and the across the rest of China.
Meanwhile the head of the Karlovy Vary regional 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.
Czech president Miloš Zeman will host 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.
Top Social Democrat Michal Hašek has decided to give up his seat in the lower house of parliament and continue as the head of the South Moravian Region. Hašek was forced to choose between the functions by party instructions preventing politicians from occupying more than one significant post at the same time. Hašek, who is also the chairman of the Association of Regions, has seen his position in the parliamentary party plummet following a failed bid to oust party leader Bohuslav Sobotka after last October’s parliamentary elections. Several other members of the lower house must also choose whether to keep their seats or drop other functions within the next days.
Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek will fly to Beijing China on Sunday for a three day official visit, the first by a Czech minister for 15 years, the government announced on Wednesday. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the visit was a mark of the government’s desire to reset relations with China. He pointed out that major European countries like Germany, France, and Britain had not let human rights issues get in the way of developing much better relations than those enjoyed by the Czech Republic. Zaorálek said relations with China have been at freezing point and that had stalled trade, export and other deals. China was looking at the possibility of establishing a technology park, probably in Moravia-Silesia, which would focus on high value added production, he added.
Police have launched criminal proceedings against the mayor of Ústí nad Labem and two members of the city council’s executive for abuse of third party property. All three are members of the Social Democrat (ČSSD) party with one, Zuzana Kailová, also a member of the lower house of parliament. Police are asking for her immunity from prosecution to be lifted. The case centres on a private company which won a 5 million crown contract to welcome new citizens to the city. It was found to have only spent a total of 600,000 crowns on cheques to the newcomers.
Most Czechs have sex for the first time before they are 18, according to survey results announced Wednesday by the Prague based Sexualogical Institute. Results from the previous study held five years ago found that Czechs were 18 or over when they had their first sex. The latest results showed that 42 percent of couples relied on condoms during their first sex compared with only a third doing so in 2008. The biggest source of information about sex, for a third of women and over a third of men, were friends and acquaintances. Researchers pointed out that these were not always the most accurate source of information.
The Czech Hydrometeorological Office has warned of severe storms hitting the Moravia-Silesia, Olomouc, and Zlín regions on Wednesday. Rainfall could total up to 3 centimetres in place. The storms are predicted to die out during the late evening but further storms are predicted across the country in the coming days.
The Czech Republic’s biggest retailer of natural gas, RWE Czech Republic, said on Wednesday that it had halted the erosion of its customer base last year. RWE said it increased gas sales to 37.6 TWh from 37.0 TWh and attracted back customers with new offers. The company announced a profit of 10.5 billion crowns on turnover of 53.6 billion crowns, though the results are not comparable with previous years because of the sale of its gas pipeline company NET4GAS and other changes. It made a loss of around 16.7 billion in 2012. The company said it is consolidating its position as the biggest alternative electricity supplier by attracting a quarter of all the customers switching suppliers last year.