News PM Sobotka rejects ex-ministers’ call for sanctions against Russia over Crimea
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected a call from three former ministers for the Czech Republic to impose sanctions on Russia until it withdraws its troops from Ukraine’s Crimea region. The demand was made by Martin Bursík, Michael Kocáb and Luboš Dobrovský, all of whom served in right-wing governments. Mr. Sobotka said the current Czech cabinet would not under any circumstances impose unilateral sanctions. However, he and his colleagues were prepared to back a joint EU position on the matter, he said. Mr. Sobotka added that the Czech Republic had significant links with the Russian market and blanket sanctions would threaten jobs.
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The crime rate in the Czech Republic fell by 11.3 percent in the first half of 2016, according to police statistics released on Monday. In all, the police registered some 115,314 crimes in the first six months. Of those, some 42.5 percent were reportedly solved. Out of crimes committed, 7,735 were violent. There were 65 murders, down by 24 from the same period last year. The region of Liberec saw none, while Central Bohemia had the most with 13.
Czech businessman František Savov is to be extradited from Great Britain to the Czech Republic, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday citing spokeswoman Štěpánka Zenklová of the Metropolitan Public Prosecutor's Office in Prague. Mr Savov, best-known as the owner of Mlada fronta publishers, is wanted on the suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering going into the hundreds of millions of crowns. The 44-year-old businessman has denied any wrongdoing; but last year, a London court also ruled in favor of his extradition – a decision which was non-binding.
A report on extremism published by the Interior Ministry suggests that extremist groups in the country lost momentum in the second quarter, not finding new topics to attract potential supporters after the migrant crisis. Right-wing groups in particular have been further weakened as they compete for the largely the same followers. According to the report, the most significant recent development from the persepctive of Czech extremists was Brexit (the decision by Great Britain to leave the European Union) interpreting that as “a victory of nationalism over European multiculturalism”.
More than three-fives of Czechs in a new poll conducted by the CVVM agency said they supported the right of adoption by same-sex couples. Less than one-third of those who took part in the survey said they were against. Lawmakers are currently debating an amendment dealing with ‘second-parent adoption’, granting the non-biological partner in a registered partnership the same legal rights to the child; the earliest that the debate will continue is in September.
A meeting of the tripartite – government, union and employers representatives – is not likely to reach a consensus on Monday on a raising of the minimum monthly wage, the Czech News Agency reports. According to the service, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has backed an increase of no more than 700 crowns per month for a total of 10,600 crowns, which is also seen as suitable by employers. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs wants the total to be 11,000 and unions 500 crowns more. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has backed an increase to at least 11,000. The monthly minimum wage was last raised at the beginning of 2016 – from the previous 9,200 crowns to the current 9,900.
State spending watchdog, the Supreme Audit Office, has reported auditing mistakes to the tune of 4.9 billion crowns in the books of the Ministry of Interior for 2014. The main factors in the flawed accounting were failures to properly account for the impact of a series of agreements made by the ministry and its estimation of property assets. The ministry said that no cash was missing and that steps have been taken to address the accounting mistakes.
Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger ended tenth in the Tour de France on Sunday, his fourth top 10 placement. He was just over seven minutes off the winning time of Chris Froome. Kreuziger moved up to 10th place overall from 12th on Saturday after coming sixth in the stage after an aggressive move to break free of the pack. He was helped by fellow team member, Slovak Peter Sagan. Kreuziger’s best ever placing in the tour was fifth in 2013. He had previously been placed three time in the top 10.
Bonus payments to top ministerial staff in the first half of the year rose to total 280 million crowns, according to Czech Radio. That is around 20 million more than in the previous six months. The government has defended the payments saying they are deserved. Most of the bonus payments in ministries total between 20,000 and 30,000 crowns. The Ministry of Transport stands out with bonus payments there averaging around 55,000 crowns over the latest period. Such payments are covered by the civil service law.
The population of lynx in the Šumava forest has fallen to around 65 and is in severe danger according to the latest estimates of an environmental group. Around 15 years ago the population was estimated at around 100. The latest estimate was released by the group Hnuti Duha which for many years has been tracing the evolution of the population and is currently holding an international conference in the Šumava region dealing with the topic. Illegal hunting and trapping and car accidents are believed to be the main causes of the sharp drop in the population.
Police have launched an appeal for help after a newly born baby was found dead at a plastic sorting facility in Prague on Saturday night. The baby had apparently suffered a violent death. It was probably delivered in a container from Prague or Central Bohemia. Police have asked to be contacted if anyone noticed suspicious circumstances such as a woman in late stages of pregnancy who appears to have given birth but has no child.