News Mayors warn prime minister tensions at danger level in north of country

03-05-2014 18:08 updated | Chris Johnstone

Mayors from 18 local councils in the north of the Czech Republic bordering Germany have sent a letter to the prime minister drawing his attention to the tinder box situation in the area, the daily Lidové Noviny reported on Monday. The deprived Šluknov area was the scene of demonstrations by extreme right wing groups and ethnic tensions with the local Roma community three years ago. Since then, mayors say little has changed in terms of creating jobs or opportunities or increasing local police numbers and council budgets. The mayors warn Bohuslav Sobotka that without action the tensions could boil over again this summer.

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Bělobrádek: Top Communists should face justice for pre-1989 killings on border

27-05-2015 18:35 | Ian Willoughby

Former senior Communists such as one-time party general secretary Milouš Jakeš and prime minister Lubomír Štrougal should face justice for the deaths of people killed trying to cross the Iron Curtain from Czechoslovakia to the West, says deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek. The chairman of the Christian Democrats said they had committed crimes against humanity that were not bound by a statute of limitations. Mr. Bělobrádek made the comments in the lower house, where he was supporting the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, a group that pushes for the punishment of perpetrators of communist-era crimes. 

Russia could occupy Baltics in days, says Czech general Pavel

27-05-2015 14:56 | Ian Willoughby

Russia could occupy the Baltic States within just two days, according to Czech Army general Petr Pavel. General Pavel, who is due to become chairman of the NATO Military Committee next month, made the comment at a security conference in Prague on Wednesday. He said NATO’s political leaders were not capable of reacting with sufficient speed to altered situations, adding that measures adopted by Europe in connection with the threats of Russia and Islamic State were glaringly ineffective. 

Brussels calls on Czech Republic to take in 1,300 refugees on top of previous proposed allocation

27-05-2015 14:03 | Ian Willoughby

The European Commission has asked the Czech Republic to take in over 1,300 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea who are already in Italy and Greece. Under the plan unveiled on Wednesday, EU states would take in a total of 40,000 such refugees in the next two years. EU officials also repeated a recently announced call for members to take in 20,000 refugees, of which over 500 would go to the Czech Republic. Prague is opposed to such quotas and argues that asylum seekers should only be accepted on a voluntary basis. However, the Czech government cannot block the plan alone as it will be voted on using the qualified majority system. 

Police raid energy office over Vesecká letter of appointment

27-05-2015 13:52 | Ian Willoughby

The police’s anti-corruption unit raided three branches of the Energy Regulation Office on Wednesday morning. A spokesperson said officers were searching for the letter of appointment of its deputy chairwoman Renata Vesecká on suspicion that the document contravenes the law on energy. For its part the Energy Regulation Office said the raids involving around 40 police were heavy-handed and violated its independence. Ms. Vesecká was supreme state attorney from 2005 to 2010. At the time of her appointment in November, the Energy Regulation Office said she fulfilled all legal requirements for the post, including a minimum of seven years’ experience in the energy field. 

Fine for firm that posted photo of thief on Facebook page lifted

27-05-2015 13:00 | Ian Willoughby

A Czech court has rescinded a fine on a company that posted on the internet a photo of a man who stole a bicycle from its shop. The Office for the Protection of Personal Data had fined the firm CZK 5,000 after it put a picture of the alleged thief on its Facebook page. A judge at the Prague Municipal Court said there was no reason that protection should be provided to the perpetrator of a crime, adding that the company had merely been attempting to recover its property. After posted the image on Facebook in November 2011 the bike was recovered the next day at a second-hand shop. 

Bolt achieves best time of year in 200m in Ostrava

27-05-2015 11:38 | Ian Willoughby

The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, ran his quickest 200 metres of the year at Ostrava’s Golden Spike athletics meeting on Tuesday. The Jamaican won the race in 20:13 seconds, shaving seven tenths of a second of his previous best of 2015. World champion Zuzana Hejnová came first in the 400 metres hurdles, the first time she had taken part in the event in almost a year due to injury problems. Hejnová finished just ahead of Czech compatriot Denisa Roslová in a time of 55:13 seconds. 

Number of ghettos up as poor move away from urban centres

27-05-2015 11:32 | Ian Willoughby

The number of spots designated as ghettos in the Czech Republic has doubled since 2006, according to a report prepared for the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs by the company GAC. There are now 606 poverty-stricken buildings, streets and districts in the country, the study said. An estimated 115,000 people, many from the Roma minority, live in places designated as socially excluded, compared to 80,000 nine years ago. The authors of the report said the change had come about in part because people were moving from urban centres to outlying areas, leading to more but smaller ghettos. 

Czech trauma team ends mission in Nepal

27-05-2015 09:44 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech trauma team which has been helping to deal with the consequences of the devastating earthquake in Nepal has concluded its mission and is due to return home on Friday, the ctk news agency reports. The 30-member team was made up of twenty doctors and nurses and ten firefighters who helped bring the injured down from hard-to-reach villages in the mountains. Since it started work on May 1, the trauma team provided medical assistance to over 1,100 people. It is leaving much of its equipment and medical supplies in Nepal for the use of the local health authorities. 

Problem with contaminated tap water in Prague 6 still unresolved

27-05-2015 09:32 | Daniela Lazarová

The problem with contaminated tap water in Prague 6 has not yet been resolved. A spokesman for the Prague Waterworks said on Wednesday it could be several more days before the water, contaminated with coliform bacteria, is once again safe for consumption. Waterworks employees are still searching for the dead-end pipe which is believed to have caused the problem. The water in neigbouring districts is reported to be safe. Meanwhile Prague Waterworks announced on Tuesday they would compensate all those who suffered health problems as a result of the contamination. The fall-out has affected 32,000 residents. 

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s government survives no-confidence vote in Parliament

26-05-2015 22:34 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s government on Tuesday survived a no-confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament. Out of 184 lawmakers present only 47 supported the no-confidence motion,105 voted against and 32 abstained.

Opposition parties tabled the motion in protest against a bill approved last week which would extend state support for bio-fuel, which they claim serves the business interests of Finance Minister Andrej Babis. Mr. Babis said that he had not at any point abused his position in the government .During the debate in Parliament Prime Minister Sobotka accused the opposition of being hypocritical, saying that what offended them was not a conflict of interests as they claimed but the changes that were being affected by the centre-left administration. 



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