News Former City Hall employees given suspended sentences

24-02-2014 20:55 | Jan Velinger

Five former employees at Prague’s City Hall were handed suspended sentences on Monday, ranging between one to three years in prison. The Municipal Court found the five guilty of wrongdoing in the Opencard case – specifically that they had signed disadvantageous contracts with producer Haguess for the implementation of the multi-purpose card. The system reportedly cost around 1.25 billion crowns. The card is used primarily as a transit pass but is also used in libraries. Monday’s ruling may be appealed.

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President Zeman on economic mission to Kazakhstan

24-11-2014 12:24 | Daniela Lazarová

On a state visit to Kazakhstan Czech President Milos Zeman said the country had achieved an economic miracle since his last visit as prime minister in 1999 and offered considerable potential for economic cooperation. President Zeman who is accompanied by a group of Czech business leaders, including Škoda representatives, the heads of engineering firms and bankers, aims to boost business ties especially in the areas of energy, engineering and infrastructure. During talks with his Kazakhstani counterpart Nursultan Nazarbajev, President Zeman said he would push to simplify the visa procedure for Kazakhs travelling to the Czech Republic. 

Letter sent to Finance Minister Andrej Babiš contained a lethal amount of poison

24-11-2014 12:07 | Daniela Lazarová

An envelope containing a suspicious substance which was sent to Czech Finance Minister, Andrej Babiš last week is reported to have contained a lethal amount of cyanide-based poison. A similar envelope, also containing poison arrived at the Ministry of the Interior. Both letters were sent from abroad, though from different countries. Neither envelope contained an accompanying letter. The police have refused to disclose further details. Suspicious envelopes containing a white powder were earlier sent to the Office of the President and commercial TV Prima, but in both cases the substance was found to be harmless. 

Czech government delegation on working visit to Israel

24-11-2014 11:54 | Daniela Lazarová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is heading a Czech government delegation on a three day visit to Israel. The prime minister is accompanied by seven members of cabinet among them Defense Minister Martin Stropnický, Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka, Health Minister Svatopluk Nemeček and Culture Minister Daniel Herman. On Monday Czech and Israeli ministers are to hold a joint session of cabinet, a tradition established in 2012, underscoring the close links between the two countries. The Czech Republic is one of Israel’s closest allies in Europe. On Tuesday the Czech delegation is expected to visit the Jad Vashem memorial. 

NHL action: Plekanec earns goal, one assist, against Bruins

24-11-2014 10:25 | Jan Velinger

Montreal Canadiens’ centre-forward Tomáš Plekanec has an excellent game against traditional rivals the Boston Bruins at the weekend, setting up a goal and scoring another to help sink the Bruins 2:0. Plekanec is second on goals and assists for the Habs this season, one point behind fellow player Max Pacioretty. Montreal are in top spot in the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Twenty-six metre tall Christmas tree felled

24-11-2014 10:10 | Jan Velinger

A 26-metre-tall pine has been felled in Nespeky, near Benešov to serve as this year's Christmas tree on the Old Town Square. The owner gave to go-ahead for the tree, which stood for more than 70 years, to be cut down. Organisers chose the winner from a list of 17 trees around the country. Transport of the pine will require the city’s Pařížská Street to be cleared of parked vehicles well in advance. 

Motorist tries to beat oncoming train

23-11-2014 18:09 | Jan Velinger

A Czech motorist was lucky to escape with her life on Sunday at a railway crossing in the Kolín area. Witnesses said the driver, at the wheel of a small car, showed impatience and drove ahead a line of waiting cars just as barriers on the tracks were coming down. An express train caught, and demolished, the back of her car. She escaped unhurt. The incident is under investigation. 

Defence minister outlines need for military reserve force

23-11-2014 18:01 | Jan Velinger

Defence Minister Martin Stropnický has made clear that planned legislative changes should make it possible for the Czech Republic to create a military reserve force capable of being called up in times of war or severe crisis. According to the minister, the country's army is low in personnel, fewer than 20,000 instead of a desired 27,000. Call up reserves, of between 10,000 - 15,000 trained personnel, the minister indicated, would help fill the gap. Minister Stropnický pointed out that military reserves were not uncommon in other countries and made clear the plan was in no way to reintroduce compulsory military service across the board, as was the case in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic up until 2004. 

Czechs donate 173 tonnes of food in second annual food drive

23-11-2014 17:48 | Jan Velinger

Czech consumers, as well as firms and internet users, on Saturday donated 173 tonnes of food in the second annual food donation drive for people living in poverty. One hundred and forty-six tonnes came from regular shoppers, almost 26 tonnes from firms and the remainder from members of the public over the internet. The amount far surpassed last year's figure of 66 tonnes. Three times as many stores took part in the drive as well as more than 2,000 volunteers, organisers revealed. 

Human skeleton was buried in field for more than 100 years

23-11-2014 17:13 | Jan Velinger

Skeletal remains found buried in a field in the area of Prostějov on Saturday by a local have been estimated at being over 100 years old. The estimate was made by an forensic anthropology expert. The remains have been sent for further study. Two similar cases were also registered in the Přerov area this year. 

Foreign Minister: No evidence of wrongdoing at embassy in Kiev

23-11-2014 16:58 | Jan Velinger

An investigation by Foreign Ministry officials have found no evidence of wrongdoing at the Czech Embassy in Kiev, the country's foreign minister has said. Speaking on a Sunday TV debate programme, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek maintained, on the contrary, that representatives at the embassy may have been slandered. There had been suspicion that some at the ministry had told local ethnic Czechs to remain quiet on the subject of repatriation to the Czech Republic several months ago. Families in the Volhyn region nevertheless petitioned both the government and even the president for the Czech Republic to help them return 'home' in the face of growing unrest in Ukraine. In the past, the president expressed strong dissatisfaction with steps taken by the embassy under the current ambassador. Prague Castle was petitioned by 232 families, while the embassy had reportedly maintained earlier that only three families were interested in returning to the country of their ancestors. 

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