News Ministry ordered to pay Syndicate of Journalists nearly CZK 300 million after state fails to replace original building
The Ministry of Finance has to pay the Czech Syndicate of Journalists CZK 292 million as compensation for a new building the state failed to provide for the organisation. The Prague City Court on Tuesday upheld a ruling to that effect made a year ago by a district court. The ministry’s only avenue of appeal is to the Supreme Court. The dispute dates back to 1967 when the Czechoslovak Syndicate of Journalists transferred two buildings on Prague’s Wenceslas Sq. to the state; the site was used to build the Federal Assembly, while the state committed to providing a replacement building by Jirásek Bridge. It failed to do so and the second site is now home to The Dancing Building.
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The Czech Republic’s biggest bank, Česká spořitelna, has posted a consolidated net profit of 7.78 billion crowns for the first six months of the year which is 4.6 percent less than in the same period last year. The bank’s operating profit remained at 11.47 billion. The bank said the decrease in profit was due to decreasing prices of financial services as well as growing costs of commissions paid for credit and debit card transactions. Česká spořitelna’s parent company, Austria’s Erste Group Bank, has meanwhile posted a loss of nearly 930 million euros for the first six months of 2014.
Austrian Chancellor Walter Faymann arrives in Prague on Thursday for talks with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Their agenda includes plans to improve cross-border transport infrastructure including the modernization of railway connections between Vienna and Prague. Mr Sobotka and Mr Faymann are also set to discuss their countries’ candidates for the European Commission as both the Czech Republic and Austria would like to nominate the commissioner for regional policy.
A court in Prague on Wednesday ruled that a former anchor for the commercial Czech TV channel Nova, Karel Voříšek, was wrongfully listed as a collaborator of the communist-era secret police, the StB. Mr Voříšek stopped working for Nova in 2012 after allegations surfaced that he reported to the StB on his fellow students while studying at the Faculty of Arts of Prague’s Charles University in 1980s.
The state-owned Czech Aeroholding’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, or EBITDA, reached 2.2 billion crowns last year, the firm said in a statement on Wednesday. That is 0.4 billion less than in 2012. The company took in 16.3 billion crowns in revenues last year. The company said the results were affected by the incorporation of the carrier Czech Airlines and Prague’s Václav Havel Airport into the firm.
The opposition Civic Democrats have slammed the centre-left Czech government over what they called a diversion from the country’s policy of supporting Israel. The party criticized the fact that last week, the Czech Republic was one 17 countries that abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council resolution to launch a probe into Israel’s actions in Gaza. Civic Democrat chair Petr Fiala demanded explanation from Foreign Minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, and said Israel deserved the Czech Republic’s full support. In a reaction, Minister Zaorálek said the Czech position on the UN vote had been coordinated with other EU member states.
Social Watch, an international anti-poverty advocacy group, has criticized the Czech Republic over increasing numbers of overpriced and substandard accommodation facilities often used by the poor, and continuing anti-Romany rallies. In its annual report for 2013 released on Wednesday, the group says the country was affected by chaos, incompetence, record-high unemployment and decreasing living standards for a majority of the population. The group has also criticized a lack of women in the lower house of Parliament and other top political positions.
Extended EU sanctions against Russia adopted over Moscow’s alleged support for the rebels in Ukraine will not have any significant impact on the Czech economy, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said in a statement on Wednesday. The sanctions are targeting Russia’s oil sector, defence equipment and sensitive technologies. However, the Czech Republic’s trade to Russia is based on civilian goods, Mr Sobotka said. The opposition Civic Democrats have questioned the prime minister’s claim, and said any effective sanctions must also logically hurt those who impose them.
The regional authorities in Ústí nad Labem have allowed a Muslim student to repeat her school-leaving exams at a local secondary medical school after she accused one of the teachers on the examination board of anti-Islamism, the news website idnes.cz reported on Wednesday. The student reportedly failed her Czech language exam in May; she claimed she was deliberately failed because she had objected to the teacher showing students anti-Muslim videos during his classes. The teacher, who also serves as an evangelical pastor in the city, has denied the accusations but the regional authorities have approved the student’s request to resit the exams.
Meteorologists have warned of heavy storms with hail that are to hit the Czech Republic on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. The storms are expected to move in from Germany to western Bohemia before advancing to the east of the country. The warning is in place until Thursday evening. Meteorologists have also warned that torrential rain could flood roads and buildings in low-lying areas.
Detectives from the anti-corruption unit of the Czech police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of Pražské služby, a city-run firm providing municipal services in the capital, the news website lidovky.cz reported. A spokesman for the unit did not comment on the operation but the website said the police were searching for documents possibly related to the firm’s multi-billion deals on waste collection as a planned acquisition of an additional stake in the company by Prague City Hall.