News Former Communist secret police officer says Andrej Babiš not recruited as agent

14-04-2014 13:42 | Chris Johnstone

A former chief of the Communist era secret police, (StB) testified in court on Monday that minister of finance Andrej Babiš was not recruited as an agent in the 1980’s. Július Šuman was giving evidence in the minister’s attempts to disprove material released from Slovak archives suggesting he was recruited under the codename Bureš. The former police officer said that a reported meeting at a Bratislava restaurant where Bureš was said to have been recruited never took place. Babiš has taken out a libel action against the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute, which stores the country’s secret police archives. A verdict in the case was not expected Monday.

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Czech government is one of creditors of OKD mining company

23-05-2016 18:27 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech government is one of the creditors of struggling hard coal mining company OKD. Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek said that employer’s social insurance payments to the tune of around 79 million crowns are owing. If the sum remains unpaid then the state could join a creditors’ committee and influence the restructuring of the company. OKD filed for insolvency at the start of May with overall debts estimated at 17 billion crowns. At a meeting between government representatives, the unions, and the Moravia-Silesia hejtman on Monday, the head of the Confederation of Czech Trades Union, Josef Středula, warned that it was not clear if OKD’s around 10,000-strong workforce would be paid for May. Protests would result if that was the case, he warned. 

Lukáš Rosol creates first round scare for French Open champion

23-05-2016 18:27 | Chris Johnstone

Czech tennis player Lukáš Rosol created a scare for reigning French Open singles champion Stan Wawrinka. Rosol took a two sets to one lead in the first round match on Monday before the Swiss player won the final two sets and the match in just over three hours. The final score was 4:6, 6:1, 3:6, 6:3, 5:4. Wawrinka is seeded three for this year’s French Open. Wawrinka and Rosol clashed four days ago in the semi-finals of the Geneva competition with the Swiss winning in three sets. 

Charges pressed against art activists who hoisted underpants above Prague castle

23-05-2016 13:57 | Chris Johnstone

Charges have been filed against three members of an artistic group who last year hoisted a giant pair of red underpants over Prague Castle, the official seat of President Miloš Zeman. The charges laid against the members of the Ztohoven group cover disorderly conduct, theft, and damage. The art activists hoisted the underpants over the castle in protest at the president’s policies on September 19 last year. A court initially refused to pursue the case for lack of evidence. Police have since returned with a new dossier of evidence. 

Czech police drafted to help French colleagues during Euro 2016

23-05-2016 12:18 | Chris Johnstone

Czech police will be aiding their French counterparts during football’s Euro 2016 competition which begins on June 10. The Czech officers will mainly be on hand at areas reserved for supporters and at railway stations and airport. Some will assist help French frontier police. The Czech contingent has been made available following a request for help from the French Ministry of Interior. The Czech group games takes place at Toulouse, St. Etienne, and Lens. 

Archaeologists reveal unique bronze age find outside Prague

23-05-2016 12:18 | Chris Johnstone

Czech Archaeologists have described as the find of a lifetime a 3,000 year old bronze bowl which was discovered in a field outside Prague. The discovery has been kept secret for around a year until the reward of 92,000 crowns to the finder was settled. News of the find was made public by Czech Radio. The public will have to wait until the two handled amphora undergoes substantial restoration work in Germany before it goes on show. 

Deadlines for massive fines confirmed for construction giants

23-05-2016 11:51 | Chris Johnstone

Two of the country’s biggest construction companies, Skanska and Eurovia, will each have to pay fines of around 500 million crowns each by the start of August. The regional court in Brno confirmed that deadline in rejecting the companies’ appeals against fines from the Czech competition officie. The two companies were fined for membership of a cartel which split up the work on a major road development in the Czech Republic. Skanska’s parent company is based in Sweden. Eurovia is part of the France-based Vinci multinational group. 

Czech tennis players’ positions confirmed in latest ranking

23-05-2016 11:50 | Chris Johnstone

In tennis, top men’s Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has maintained his eighth spot in the singles ranking. Top women player Petra Kvitová is 12th, just ahead of countrywoman Lucie Šafářová in 13th place. Berdych begins the French Open against Canadian Vasek Pospisil. Kvitová stuggled in three sets to the second round on Sunday. 

Supreme Audit Office lodges criminal complaint over Czech Tourism management

23-05-2016 11:50 | Chris Johnstone

Czech spending watchdog, the Supreme Audit Office, has lodged a criminal complaint against the state body tasked with promoting tourism, Czech Tourism. The complaint is based on multiple counts of poor housekeeping at the agency. The spending watchdog in particular highlighted a series of cases where orders were made and contracts signed without any attempt to find the cheapest offer on the market. That covered, for example, the purchase of legal services and airline tickets. The alleged flaws took place between 2011 and 2014. The minister for Regional Development also lodged a criminal complaint against the tourism office in March but police investigations were later suspended. 

Czech Republic and Israel sign security memorandum during inter-government talks

23-05-2016 06:47 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Republic and Israel have signed a memorandum on cybernetic security following a bilateral meeting of government ministers in Jerusalem on Sunday. The memorandum calls for regular exchanges of information and experts. The head of the National Security Authority, Dušan Navrátil was one of the members of the Czech delegation. Other subjects covered in the talks were cooperation over the medicinal use of marihuana and dealing with the problem of drought and increased cooperation over tourism. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and seven of his ministers took part in the inter-governmental meeting. The two sides agreed that such consultations will be held every two years from now on. 

Lifestyle choices mean more Czechs facing chronic illness

23-05-2016 06:46 | Chris Johnstone

More Czechs are facing chronic illnesses and conditions because of poor lifestyles and diets, an international health conference in Prague has been told. Diabetes is the fastest rising condition, now estimated to affect around 900,000 Czechs, but heart disease is also spreading fast. It’s estimated that around 80 percent of illnesses and conditions are due to lifestyle decisions and could be avoided. The government is considering extra payments for health insurers which have a higher proportion of patients with chronic illnesses. 

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