News Office of Government faces large fine over EU presidency contract

09-04-2014 12:44 | Ian Willoughby

The tax authorities have fined the Office of the Government more than half a billion crowns for paying an excessively high sum to a company for audiovisual services during the Czech presidency of the EU in 2009, Právo reported on Wednesday. The Office of the Government is considering appealing, the newspaper said. An official told Czech Television the fine could prove fatal to the institution, as it was many times its annual budget. Investigators said the company ProMoPro had received over CZK 380 million more than it should have for the provision of audiovisual services. No tender was held for the contract. Twelve people have been charged in connection with the matter.

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US military convoy crosses into Czech Republic

27-05-2016 12:45 | Chris Johnstone

A US military convoy crossed into the Czech Republic on Friday morning. The convoy, around half as big again as the one which was welcomed last year, is on its way to exercises in the Baltic states. Czech army vehicles are due to join the convoy on Saturday, when Czech and US soldiers will get a chance to familiarize themselves with the different equipment being used. The US convoy should quit Czech territory on Monday morning. 

Interior minister lodges legal challenge to ‘gallows’ decisions

27-05-2016 12:44 | Chris Johnstone

Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec has said he will challenge a decision by Prague City Authorities and Prague 1 local council that demonstrators who carried a mock gallows should not even be fined. Chovanec said he was offended that the action during a demonstration against immigration in July last year in Prague was not even considered as a civil offence. During the demonstration, attended by several hundred, placards were also carried accusing some politicians of treason against the country. 

Bill to ban smoking to be reintroduced by government

27-05-2016 12:44 | Chris Johnstone

Minister of Health Svatopluk Němeček will reintroduce a bill to the government on Monday for the banning of smoking in restaurants and other places. That move was decided by a meeting of coalition government party leaders on Friday. The meeting was called by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka in the wake of the defeat of the previous proposal in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. Friday’s meeting was not attended by ANO leader Andrej Babiš or the leader of the Christian Democrats Pavel Bělobrádek, both of whom said they had prior engagements. The defeat of the bill on Wednesday sparked rancour in the ruling government coalition, mostly focused on the ANO lawmakers who voted three different ways on the final proposal. 

Klinika social centre receives František Kriegel Award for civic courage

27-05-2016 09:49 | Ruth Fraňková

The 2015 František Kriegel Award for civic courage, handed out annually by the Charter 77 Foundation, was given to the representatives of the Klinika social centre, which became a target of an arson attack by ultra-right radicals this year. An independent jury praised the centre's voluntary activities for its humanity and for not falling under the influence of ideology or market forces. František Kriegel, the Charter 77 signatory, was the only Czechoslovak political leader who refused to sign Moscow's humiliating dictate after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of 1968. 

Rudolf Jelínek spirits producer posts record turnover

27-05-2016 08:48 | Ruth Fraňková

Czech spirits producer Rudolf Jelínek posted a record turnover last year amounting to nearly 470 million crowns. The company’s profit was 70 percent higher than in the previous year, the general director Pavel Dvořáček told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. The traditional plum liquor producer has finally recovered from the methanol scandal of 2012, during which 47 Czechs died of alcohol poisoning and which resulted in a decrease in demand for hard alcohol. In 2012, the company suffered losses to the tune of 19 million crowns. 

Restored copy of The Fabulous Baron Munchhausen to launch Zlín film festival

26-05-2016 17:32 | Ruth Fraňková

The world premiere of the digitally restored copy of Baron Prášil or The Fabulous Baron Munchhausen, a legendary film by Karel Zeman, will launch this year’s edition of the Zlín International Film Festival, which gets underway on Friday. The 1961 film, combining live action with various forms of animation, was restored within a project called We are cleaning up the world of fantasy, which aims to digitally restore three films by the visionary filmmaker. The new version of The Fabulous Baron Munchhausen will be screened for the first time on Thursday in Prague’s Lucerna cinema. 

Tennis: Tomáš Berdych reaches third round at French Open

26-05-2016 15:19 | Ruth Fraňková

The Czech Republic’s Tomáš Berdych has reached the third round at the French Open in Paris. The seventh seed advanced after beating Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6:1, 2:6, 6:2 a 6:4 on Thursday. Berdych will face Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in the next round. 

Senate rejects bill giving more powers to Supreme Audit Office

26-05-2016 14:53 | Ruth Fraňková

The Senate has rejected a lower house bill which would give the Supreme Audit Office, the country’s spending watchdog, greater powers. Following a four-hour long debate, 42 out of 60 senators present voted against the proposed amendment, under which the office would in future be able to look into the financing of local and regional administrations, state funds, health insurance companies, public schools and companies in which the state is a majority shareholder. Up till now the Supreme Audit Office could only check on state property management and state budget expenditures. 

Anthropoid to open Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

26-05-2016 14:12 | Ruth Fraňková

The British-US-French coproduction film Anthropoid which tells the story of the 1942 assassination of acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in Czechoslovakia, will open this year’s edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which gets under way on July 1, the festival’s spokeswoman Uljana Donátová announced on Thursday. The screening of Anthropoid will be attended by the director Sean Ellis and by the leading actors Jamie Dornan, Charlotte Le Bon, Aňa Geislerová and Toby Jones. The historical drama was shot in the Czech Republic over the last summer. 

Finance Ministry envisages next year’s budget deficit at 48.5 billion

26-05-2016 13:05 | Ruth Fraňková

A Finance Ministry proposal for next year’s budget, which is to be debated by the government on Monday, sets next year’s deficit at 48.5 billion crowns, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday. For 2018 the ministry envisages a deficit of 38.5 billion and for 2019 18.5 billion. The Finance Ministry is willing to increase the deficit in case of higher spending by ministries and other state authorities. Under the agreement between coalition parties, the deficit could reach up to 60 billion crowns next year and 50 billion crowns in 2018. 

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