News Former prime minister’s advisor facing corruption charge over Austrian armoured car purchase: report

15-05-2014 15:40 | Chris Johnstone

The Supreme State Attorney’s Office in Prague on Thursday said it had pressed charges in a corruption case involving the purchase of armoured transporters for the Czech army from the Austrian arms company Steyr. Public service broadcaster Czech Television reported that the man charged with corruption is former Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek’s infamous right hand man, Marek Dalík. Dalík has been investigated by police on suspicion that he demanded a payment of 500 million crowns to make sure that the lucrative order for 107 vehicles was won by the Austrian firm. The deal was eventually signed in 2009. Dalík served as Topolánek’s advisor between 2006 and 2009. The maximum sentence for corruption in such a case would be 10 years.

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Press: Czech Republic to pay millions to Volkswagen in lost dispute

28-07-2014 06:56 | Jan Richter

The Czech government will pay the German carmaker Volkswagen 301 million crowns after losing a dispute with the firm over settling debts following the privatization of Škoda Auto, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Monday. Volkswagen acquired Škoda in 1991 but claimed then Czech government siphoned off hundreds of millions of crowns. Earlier this year, the Czech government lost an international arbitration in the case as well as a court case heard by an Austrian court. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš had released the funds, and said he would determine who was responsible in the case, the daily said. 

President Zeman slams PM over Czech EU commissioner selection

28-07-2014 06:48 | Jan Richter

President Miloš Zeman has criticized Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka over the process of selecting the Czech candidate for the European Commission. In an interview for the daily Týden on Monday, President Zeman said the prime minister humiliated the country by letting the commission’s president-elect, Jean-Claude Juncker, choose of the nominees. After two months of negotiations, the Czech government nominated minister Věra Jourová for the post. Prime Minister Sobotka discussed potential portfolios for the Czech candidate with Mr Juncker in Brussels but denied consulting the actual choice with him. 

Accident halts traffic on major Czech railway route

27-07-2014 19:26 | Jan Richter

An accident on the railway line between Prague and Kolín in central Bohemia has halted traffic on the route used by international express trains with destinations in Germany, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary. The accident occurred when a train ran onto a wrong track and damaged a switch. Local trains have been cancelled and replaced with buses while international expresses have been diverted to an alternate route. The authorities expect traffic on the route to resume at 8 PM on Sunday. 

South Moravian communities commemorate soldiers killed in WWI

27-07-2014 19:18 | Jan Richter

Several towns and villages in South Moravia on Sunday commemorated their men who were killed on the battlefields of the First World War, the news agency ČTK reported. A plaque dedicated to their memory was unveiled in Hustopeče while in Valtice, a memorial cross was erected. In Olešnice and several other places, gatherings were held to remember the fallen soldiers on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the war’s outbreak. 

Light airplane crashes during take-off in western Bohemia

27-07-2014 16:43 | Jan Richter

A light airplane crashed during take-off at an airfield in Plasy, western Bohemia, on Sunday. The plane was carrying two people but no one suffered any injuries in the accident, a spokesman for the local fire brigade said. The news agency ČTK reported the plane’s engine lost power during take-off and the pilot ended the manoeuvre. The plane then crashed some 50 metres away from the runway. Causes of the accident are under investigation. 

PORG school most successful among eight-year secondary schools in exit exams

27-07-2014 15:19 | Jan Richter

The privately-owned PORG school was the most successful of all Czech secondary schools in this year’s state leaving exams, the news agency ČTK reported on Sunday quoting an analysis by the educational consultancy firm CERMAT. Students at PORG, which has branches in Prague and Ostrava, did best in the Czech and English languages, and scored second in math nationwide. The Czech Education Ministry does not officially release rankings of secondary schools based on their students’ performance in the leaving exams. 

Exhibition of drawings by UK director Peter Greenaway held at Czech film festival

27-07-2014 14:00 | Jan Richter

The British film director Peter Greenaway opened an exhibition of his drawings at the Summer Film School festival in Uherské Hradiště, eastern Czech Republic, on Sunday. The exhibit, entitled Eisenstein in Guanajuato, includes some 50 drawings the director made during work on a film of the same name dedicated to the Russian film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein that is to premiere next year. Peter Greenaway received an award at the festival whose 40th edition started on Friday. 

Health Ministry claims victory in Diag Human arbitration

27-07-2014 12:42 updated | Jan Richter

The Czech Republic has won an international arbitration against the firm Diag Human, Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček said. The company took the country to arbitration in 2008 over its allegedly thwarted blood plasma business int eh coutnry. The Czech Republic was originally ordered to pay eight billion crowns in compensation to the firm but the Czech government appealed the decision and the final ruling, delivered to both parties last week, awards victory to the Czech Republic, according to the Health Ministry. However, the firm disputes the minitry's claims, arguing the ruling in fact confirmed the original verdict. The Health Ministry said it would release details on the case next week. 

Report: Romany elite rising due to increasing numbers of university graduates

27-07-2014 12:36 | Jan Richter

The Czech Republic’s new Romany elite is rising due to increasing numbers of Romanies with university degrees, the news website idnes.cz reported on Sunday. While only around 100 of the country’s 250,000-strong Romany community are currently studying at Czech universities, the number of those receiving some type of scholarships has tripled over the last nine years, from 59 to 151, according to figures by Romea, an advocacy group. Romany leaders quoted in the report say the rising number of university students has a big impact both on the Romany community and the majority society but note their overall number is still very small. 

Storm alert for parts of Czech Republic

27-07-2014 12:13 | Jan Richter

Heavy storms are to hit the south and east of the Czech Republic on Sunday afternoon, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has warned. In some places, up to 30 millimetres of precipitation is expected. The warning is in place until 10 PM on Sunday but frequent storms are expected in the Czech Republic over the next several days. 

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