News Institute overseeing secret police files under threat, says director

03-06-2014 14:11 | Ian Willoughby

The future of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, which oversees the files of the communist-era secret police, is under threat, its recently appointed director Zdeněk Hazdra said on Tuesday. Speaking at a Senate hearing prior to the election of a new Institute board, Mr. Hazdra said the agency was suffering from internal divisions and a lack of interest on the part of the public. The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes was set up by a right-wing government in 2007 and has come under pressure since the left have gained the upper hand in the Senate, which selects its board. Critics say it has been poorly managed and unprofessional in the digitisation of historical materials.

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Cooler weather ahead, say experts

05-09-2015 16:03 | Jan Velinger

Cooler weather is expected over the course of next week, according to meteorologists at the HydroMeteorological Institute. Daytime temperatures are expected to be below 20 degrees Celsius. The week from September 14 is expected to be the warmest of the month. 

Six thousand football fans see Jaromír Blažek benefit match

05-09-2015 15:56 | Jan Velinger

Some six thousand football fans saw a benefit match in honour of 42-year-old former Sparta Prague goalkeeper Jaromír Blažek, pitting former Sparta legends against the Blaža All-Stars. Players included Libor Sionko, Karel Poborsky and Tomáš Řepka for Sparta, and Patrik Berger, Jan Koller and Milan Baroš for the All-Stars. The latter won 3:2. Blažek played one 35 minute half for each team at Sparta's stadium at Letná - allowing no goals. 

Activists cook up soups to draw attention to problem of food waste

05-09-2015 15:40 | Jan Velinger

Activists on Saturday prepared some 2,000 free servings of soup outside Prague's National Theatre to draw attention to the problem of food waste. Minestrone, potato soup and an Indian soup were all served after being cooked from less than attractive vegetables normally thrown away and not found in supermarkets. Activists aimed to show that perfectly good food is wasted daily which could instead be consumed. 

Dozens of motorcyclists plus number of antique car owners back Švejk statue

05-09-2015 15:30 | Jan Velinger

Dozens of motorcycle fans and a number of antique car owners turned up on Saturday to back a project for the installation of a statue of famous Czech literary character Josef Švejk in Kralupy outside of Prague. So far, the initiative has 380,000 crowns in donations but is still short by some 150,000. Eighty-four motorcycle owners took part in a ride to help raise the remaining funds. The statue is based on actor Rudolf Hrušinsky who played the iconic character in the 1956 film The Good Soldier Švejk. 

Former president launches new anti-migration petition

05-09-2015 14:57 | Jan Velinger

Former Czech president Václav Klaus has launched a new anti-migration petition hoping to attract thousands of signatories. The first signature was Mr Klaus' own. In the petition, the former head-of-state has called on the current government to secure the country's borders using the police and military, and called for the rejection of refugee quotas and for existing agreements and asylum policies to be respected. Mr Klaus said he had been urged to friends and supporters to launch a petition in response to a pro-migrant initiative begun recently by Czech scientists. Polls suggest that the vast majority of Czechs see the migration crisis as a major problem; there have been a number of demonstrations against the country accepting more refugees. Others have launched initiatives to help those in need. 

Opposition parties welcome Visegrad meeting outcome

05-09-2015 14:43 | Jan Velinger

The country's centre-right opposition parties, TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats, welcomed steps agreed by the Visegrad 4, including the rejection of EU quotas on refugees. The regional grouping of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, has instead offered to help on a voluntary basis; the Czech Republic, for example, agreed earlier to accept 1,500 refugees over the next two years. On Friday, members of the V4 offered to provide expertise and equipment to help bolster the Schengen zone’s outer borders and combat human traffickers and support the fight against Islamic State during the current immigrant crisis. TOP 09 deputy chairman Marek Ženíšek said his party had called for the rejection of quotas, a reliance on existing measures and the creation of hot spot centres, since January. He criticised the V4 for, in his view, not directly addressing growing xenophobia and racism in the V4 over Europe's refugee crisis.The Communists while welcoming Friday's meeting in Prague and outcome, suggested the move should have come earlier. 

Doctors, pharmaceutical company employees, charged with corruption

05-09-2015 14:19 | Jan Velinger

Czech police have charged 15 doctors and 19 employees at two pharmaceutical companies with corruption, the spokesman for the anti-corruption unit Jaroslav Ibehej has confirmed. The news was reported by Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes. According to the daily, the doctors allegedly received kickbacks in return for pushing the pharmaceutical companies' products. Monies paid amounted to at least nine million crowns, but possibly ten of millions more; police are investigating an additional 200 doctors for possible involvement. 

Visegrad Four offer help during immigrant crisis but underline sovereignty and reject quotas

04-09-2015 18:28 | Chris Johnstone

Government leaders from the four Visegrad countries agreed in Prague on Friday that they are prepared to provide experts and equipment to help bolster the Schengen zone’s outer borders and combat human traffickers and support the fight against Islamic State during the current immigrant crisis. The meeting was called in Prague by the current country heading the regional grouping, the Czech Republic. Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka warned during the closing press conference that the wave of immigrants would continue as long as the current conflicts in Libya and Syria are unresolved. Development help for those countries would be offered and the stepped up involvement of the United Nations would be sought, he added. Polish premier Ewa Kopacz stressed that it was for individual countries make their own decisions during the ongoing crisis. The four Central European counties, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland, are under fire from other EU states for refusing to accept EU-set quotas of immigrants in their countries. 

Chinese investment group CEFC to take control at Slavia Prague football club: report

04-09-2015 17:30 updated | Chris Johnstone

Chinese investment group CEFC will buy a 60 percent majority stake in the Slavia Prague football club, the daily Neovlivni reported Friday. It cited former Czech minister and current head of the Czech-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Jaroslav Tvrdík, who mediated the deal. When the deal goes through, the head of the Czech transport company Travel Service, Jiří Šimán, will be left with the remaining 40 percent stake in the famous Czech club which has recently gone many ownership upheavals. 

Czech army would help with immigrant crisis if more than 1,000 arrivals a day: minister

04-09-2015 15:58 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech army and prison service will be called on to help the police tackle the immigration problem if the number of incoming refugees top 1,000 a day, Czech minister of interior Milan Chovanec said on Friday. Earlier, Chovanec said after a meeting with his Slovak counterpart Robert Kaliňák that both countries would oppose the proposal of EU set quotas of immigrants to be accepted by them. Even if they agreed the idea, immigrants would seek to move on to their target countries such as Germany or Sweden, Chovanec said. If Germany was willing to accept all Syrian refugees, then Czechs and Slovaks could arrange a rail corridor to the country, the Czech minister added. Germany would have to agree this with Hungary and Budapest would have to ensure that the travellers were really Syrians and not those claiming to be from the war ravaged country or with false passports from it, he addd. 


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