News Finance minister calls steps taken by MPs in lower house "an embarrassment"
The head of the ANO movement, Andrej Babiš, vented disgust in the media on Friday over the recent behavior of some in the lower house, saying he would prefer to resign as an MP if he had a capable successor. The finance minister was reacting to the handling of a fuel tax reduction bill for farmers on Wednesday, which was modified by a fellow coalition MP and former minister for industry and trade to be across the board. The bill, which initially passed but was subjected to a new vote on Friday following a complaint, would have thrown a spanner in government plans. The opposition Civic Democrats say they will petition the Constitutional Court over the matter.
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Fans of adrenaline sport and mountain biking near the Olomouc area will now be able to visit a new bike park which opened on Friday in Olomouc-Slavonín. The facility is offering four tracks focusing on numerous cycling disciplines, for everyone from beginners and children to more experienced riders. The park cost 3.5 million crowns to build; the local town council received European funding for the project.
The regional court in Brno has sentenced 33-year-old Marek Teplý, a rapper who goes by the stage name of El Maron, to 11.5 years in prison for a murder committed on December 30 last year. Mr Teplý, who had been drinking heavily, reportedly stabbed another man in the back in a bar in Třebíč. The defendant said he had no memory of the attack; but he admitted to the murder and expressed regret for his actions. Psychologists confirmed he suffered from no psychological problems. Besides the prison sentence, Mr Teplý has been ordered to pay 2.25 million crowns in damages to the murdered man’s relatives. The ruling can still be appealed.
The City of Prague and eMoneyServices have reached a deal on a number of outstanding issues on the Opencard, the multi-purpose card used by commuters in the city’s public transit system. EMS was the former operator of the card but failed to secure a new contract with the former administration which charged the firm’s proposal was grossly overpriced. An expert witness, together with EMS experts, will conduct a diagnostic test of the electronic Opencard system; the city is hoping that they will be able to smooth out problems which emerged.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics have indicated both are in favour of a possible reassessment of ties with Minsk dependant on positive signals from Belarus which is holding presidential elections on Sunday. They also regarded as positive a recent decision by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko leading to the release of six political prisoners as well as the role of Belarus in peace talks to try and end the conflict in Ukraine. Other issues on the table in Prague on Friday included not only bilateral relations but also the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw.
Family, friends and members of the public paid their last respects to legendary film and theatre actor Lubomír Lipský who died on October 2nd at the age of 92. The ceremony took place at ABC Theatre in Prague, where he performed for more than 50 years. More than 40 fellow actors attended on Friday to say goodbye.
The presidents of the Visegrad Four countries, together with the Croatian head-of-state, have agreed on the necessity for the European Union’s outer borders to be strengthened in the face of the migrant crisis. Hungarian President Janos Ader spoke with reporters after their two-day meeting on Friday. Hungary, along with Croatia, both face a strong influx of refugees from the Middle East and north Africa. The five presidents also agreed that detention centres for asylum seekers should be established in Turkey through which many refugees were coming to Europe. Czech president Miloš Zeman criticized the EU, saying it had proven “zero ability” to protect its outer borders.
The police have passed the case against three members of the guerrilla art group Ztohoven on to the state prosecutors office, police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulová has confirmed. The members of the renegade group, between the ages of 33 and 41, made international headlines when they posed as chimneysweeps, climbed onto the roof of Prague Castle, and replaced the presidential flag, an official symbol of the Czech Republic, with a pair of enormous red underpants. The move was meant as criticism of the current head-of-state’s past public behaviour and policies. The police charged the three with disorderly conduct, theft and the damage of private property; damages incurred in the stunt have been tabulated at 90 thousand crowns.
The outgoing head of Czech Radio, Peter Duhan, whose resignation was accepted by Czech Radio’s supervisory council earlier this week, will receive 10 months’ severance pay amounting to at least two million crowns, according to the news website aktualne.cz. The final sum could be higher if the council grants Mr Duhan an annual bonus as high as 480 thousand crowns. Mr Duhan resigned this week, citing health reasons, ahead of a meeting of the supervisory council which was investigating the employment of his son, not allowed under existing regulations. Mr Duhan, 69, oversaw broad changes at Czech Radio, including the introduction of new moderators and a new logo.
This weekend will see the launch of a nationwide-police operation aimed at curbing underage drinking. Police offers, paramedics and members of the Czech Trade Inspection Office will be making inspections of pubs, bars and restaurants around the country to make sure alcohol is not being sold to adolescents. The inspections should continue until the end of the year. Alcohol abuse among teenagers has increased by 100 percent in the past 20 years and the Czech Republic now tops the European ladder in underage drinking.
The Czech Republic will extend random controls along its borders with Austria on Saturday, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told Czech Television on Thursday night. The minister said security measures would be taken depending on how the situation develops in Austria, which earlier indicated it might close its borders at the weekend. If that were to happen Mr. Chovanec said the Czech Republic was ready to deploy soldiers and officers on the border and effect controls on international trains in order to prevent a massive influx of migrants.