News Foreign Ministry warns travelers to exercise extra caution in Mexico

26-04-2014 16:05 | Jan Velinger

The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a recommendation warning travelers to Mexico to avoid dangerous areas, namely eight states where drug-related violence continues to run high. According to the ministry, special care had to be taken even in Mexico City, where, it said, security was not comparable to that of European cities. The ministry is providing additional information about travel in Mexico at its website. Seven years ago former president Felipe Calderón intensified law enforcement operations against the Mexican drug cartels, often leading to retaliatory violence and murder: more than 80,000 people lost their lives.

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Audit: Agriculture Ministry wastes money on promotion, consulting

22-12-2014 14:06 | Jan Richter

The Czech Agriculture Ministry spent around one million crowns from EU funds on self-promotion materials with no information value, the Supreme Audit Office has found. These included puzzles, fans, toys and other objects. The agency also discovered shortcomings related to consulting services purchased by the ministry. The Supreme Audit Office checked 86 of the ministry’s projects worth around 127 million crowns, and found that some 8 million crowns were not used appropriately. The ministry blamed the problems on administrative errors, and said the Czech or EU budgets suffered no financial losses. 

Prague police search for serial rape suspect

22-12-2014 13:47 | Jan Richter

The police in the Czech capital are searching for a serial rape suspect, a spokesman for the police said. Two women fended off an attack on Sunday night and early Monday morning in the district of Prague 4, according to the police which described the attacker as a man of around 25 years of age who speaks Czech with a presumed Ukrainian accent. The investigators say that the man most likely raped another woman in the same neighbourhood on Wednesday morning. 

Over 430 million donated through text messages since 2004

22-12-2014 13:19 | Jan Richter

Since their invention in 2004, Czechs have sent around 17 million donation text messages, the Donors Forum said on Monday. In total, more than 430 million crowns has been donated through mobile devices, the group said. Known as DMS, donation text messages were invented in the Czech Republic, and were first used in a fundraising campaign for disadvantaged children in 2004. DMSs have since become popular with Czech donors who last year gave over 36 million crowns in this way. 

Regular radio interviews with President Zeman to end

22-12-2014 13:01 | Jan Richter

Regular live radio interviews with President Miloš Zeman will be most likely discontinued after Czech Radio CEO Peter Duhan said the programme’s future editions would have to be pre-recorded, an idea previously rejected by the president. Mr Zeman came under fire over vulgar remarks he delivered in November’s edition of the programme; Czech Radio’s supervising board later said the public broadcaster breached the law by airing the interview. Mr Zeman’s spokesman said on Monday the president’s office would find a way to make sure listeners still have an opportunity to hear the head of state in a live radio interview. A live radio interview with then president Václav Havel was first broadcast in 1990, and continued until 1998. Czech Radio revived the programme last year, and has since broadcast the interviews every three months. 

MPs postpone new VAT on building lots

22-12-2014 12:23 | Jan Richter

The lower house of Parliament on Monday approved a Senate proposal to postpone the introduction of a 21-percent value-added tax on building lost by one year. Senators argued that the introduction of the new tax could thwart sales of land that had already been arranged. The new tax will come into force in January 2016. The MPs on Monday also relaxed the rules for the newly introduced obligation to report VAT to the tax authorities; under the new rules, self-employed VAT payers will only be required to send in their reports every three months rather than each month. 

Armed robber holds up JIP supermarket

22-12-2014 11:06 | Jan Velinger

A man held employees at a JIP supermarket at gunpoint in Pardubice, east of Prague, on Monday, making off with at least one million crowns, the Czech News Agency reports. The firm itself released no information but ČTK points out that the criminal police are involved. Police have plate numbers from the suspect’s vehicle and are tracking to see if it was stolen. Police units, equipped with bullet-proof vests and automatic weapons, are monitoring roads in the area for a sign of the perpetrator. If caught and found guilty, he faces up to 10 years behind bars. 

Experts start clearing Vrbětice munitions depot

22-12-2014 10:44 | Jan Velinger

Pyrotechnics experts have begun clearing the site of a damaged munitions depot in Vrbětice, eastern Moravia. The operation started on Monday morning after no spontaneous explosions had occurred at the site for nine days. Experts will first comb the surrounding forest and meadows for any unexploded munitions potentially tossed the wayside by earlier explosions at the site before moving inside the depot. Any munitions found will be either transferred to a new holding area or will be destroyed on site. The depot near Zlín was partially destroyed by a massive blast in October which killed two employees and led to further uncontrolled explosions, putting the local communities at risk. 

Two people die in traffic accident in Vamberk

21-12-2014 15:37 | Jan Velinger

Two people died in a car crash near Vamberk in the area of Rychnov; two others were injured. The police confirmed the accident had taken place ahead of a roundabout. It was a tragic weekend for motorists on Czech roads: eight people lost their lives in traffic accidents. 

Špinar to be new artistic director of drama at National Theatre

21-12-2014 15:33 | Jan Velinger

Long-time in-house director Daniel Špinar will succeed Michal Dočekal as the artistic director of drama at Prague’s National Theatre. The latter’s mandate ends in June 2015; he was artistic director for 12 years. Mr Špinar (35) was chosen for the post by National Theatre head Jan Burian, after taking part in a tender for the post and receiving backing from an expert committee, which screened numerous candidates. 

Survey: Forty percent of Czechs give to charity at Christmas

21-12-2014 15:32 | Jan Velinger

A new survey conducted by the Ipsos agency for Profi Credit suggests that 40 percent of Czechs (and 46 percent of Slovaks) give to charity at Christmastime. According to the poll, which involved 4,000 respondents, more than two-thirds of Czechs donated to children in need, either at orphanages or in hospital or suffering from disabilities. Seniors were the second-largest group to receive donations, the poll found, and animal charities, third. 

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