News PM: unperturbed by new find in Babiš case

09-03-2014 17:19 | Daniela Lazarová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he was unperturbed by claims that a document in the archives of the Czech communist secret police contains details of a meeting between members of the then secret police and Andrej Babiš, who now holds the finance ministry portfolio. Details of the document in which Mr. Babiš talks about bribery in the firm Petrimex, are to be published in Monday’s edition of Euro magazine. Mr. Sobotka said none of the information was new or surprising and that Mr. Babiš had repeatedly explained that a foreign trade employee under the communist regime he had been unable to avoid questioning by the secret service. He has rejected the idea that he actively collaborated with the communist secret service as an agent and is trying to clear his name in court in neighbouring Slovakia where he appeared on a list of communist police collaborators.

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Football: Slovan Bratislava, Sparta Prague handed fines by UEFA

31-10-2014 10:19 | Jan Velinger

Football clubs Slovan Bratislava and Sparta Prague have been handed fines by European footballs governing body, UEFA. Last week the clubs faced each other for the first time since the break-up of Czechoslovakia but the Europa League match was marred mid-way by crowd disturbances. Sparta will have to pay 80 thousand euros as a result while Slovan was handed a lower fine of 50 thousand. UEFA also ruled that Sparta will have to play one match behind closed doors, a decision that has been deferred for a two-year probation period. Sparta won last week’s match 3:0. 

Czech Army to guard munitions site

31-10-2014 09:56 | Jan Velinger

The Czech Army will be called in next week to begin guarding the site of a munitions depot in Moravia which suffered a deadly explosion that left two employees missing and presumed dead. The ministers of the Interior and Defence visited the surrounding area on Thursday. It has emerged gradually that the site, leased by four companies, represented a greater threat than previously registered; Defence Minister Martin Stropnický maintained that the officials has reacted as quickly as possible as the bigger picture emerged. The authorities are have compiled information about the site which contains numerous buildings with stored munitions untouched by the blast; but, the minister suggested that not all regulations had been followed at the depot, and dozens of other depots around the country will be checked. The army is expected to receive a mandate on Monday to guard the site. The clean-up and removal of debris as well as munitions from surviving buildings could take months. 

Tennis: Berdych through to quarter-finals in Paris

30-10-2014 16:56 | Jan Velinger

Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdcyh advanced to the quarter-final on Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open to stay in the running in a spot for November’s ATP World Tour Finals. The fifth seed defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3 in Paris to improve to a 53-19 match record this season. 

Poll: Babiš 'most trusted'

30-10-2014 16:49 | Jan Velinger

A new poll released by the CVVM agency suggests that Czechs most trust Finance Minister Andrej Babiš of leaders in Parliament. According to the poll, 58 percent ranked Mr Babiš first; he was followed by the country’s EU commissioner, Věra Jourová, who until recently was the minister for regional development, and the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. Those queried said they trusted former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek the least. 

Study ranks Czechs 17th in Europe when it comes to number of road fatalities

30-10-2014 16:39 | Jan Velinger

A new study conducted by the Allianz technology centre suggests that out of more than 180 countries the Czech Republic ranks 36th when it came to the number of road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants and 17th in Europe. The study was based largely on numbers from the World Health Organization, according to reports. Neighbouring countries which fared better on the European scale were Germany (6th) and Austria (9th) while Slovakia ranked 20th and Poland 26th. The safest countries in Europe when it came to the lowest number of traffic fatalities are Sweden, Great Britain and Malta, according to the study. 

Czech Philharmonic to mark 25th anniversary of Velvet Revolution with “From the New World Symphony” at Carnegie Hall

30-10-2014 16:23 | Jan Velinger

The Czech Philharmonic, under the direction of renowned conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, will perform Antonín Dvořák’s “From the New World Symphony” at Carnegie Hall in New York on November 16th – the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Czech cultural representatives, part of a delegation led by the head of the Chamber of Deputies Jan Hamáček, are bringing to the US the original handwritten score which Dvořák wrote during his time in the United States. The score has not left the country in more than 100 years. The composer’s grandson will also be travelling to the US for the occasion. 

Czech soldiers in Afghanistan awarded Bronze Star Medals

30-10-2014 16:07 | Jan Velinger

Two Czech soldiers have been awarded Bronze Star Medals, the fourth-highest individual honour in the US military, for their service in Afghanistan, the spokeswoman for the Czech General Staff confirmed on Thursday. Jiří Pazděra, commander of a military company that has guarded the Bagram allied base over the past six months, and David Lavička, a warrant officer, received the Bronze Stars from US Major General Stephen Townsend. Other Czech soldiers received lower level honours. Major General Townsend praised the role of the Czech unit in Afghanistan and said in a speech that if he could choose only one nation to stay in Afghanistan with the US, it would be the Czechs. Commander Pazděra said he viewed the medal as appreciation of the whole company´s performance. He added that the Czechs had succeeded in reversing the trend of an annual increase in the number of incidents and attacks on the base. 

Severely handicapped boy, who was at centre of record settlement, dies

30-10-2014 13:34 | Jan Velinger

A five-year-old boy who suffered permanent brain damage and damage to other organs when his delivery was botched when he was born at Prague’s Vinohrady Hospital in 2009, died last week Czech Radio reports. The child, left blind and deaf, had required continuous assistance. The parents of the child agreed earlier with the hospital to a record 20 million crown settlement, following a long-running court case; the facility’s head, who offered the family condolences, confirmed for Czech Radio that the hospital was respecting the agreement, saying the funds were deposited with a public notary and would be released in inheritance proceedings. 

Supreme Court rejects TV Prima appeal

30-10-2014 12:59 | Jan Velinger

The nation’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by commercial broadcaster TV Prima which had fought to overturn a 400,000 crown fine for questionable images broadcast in 2008, the Czech News Agency reports. The broadcaster was handed the fine by the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting for showing – for entertainment purposes – scenes of human suffering in drastic detail. The council found that the images could have had a negative psychological impact on young viewers not least since they were broadcast in the afternoon. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, Prague’s Municipal Court and the Supreme Administrative Court had upheld the fine. 

PM criticizes president’s use of private company jet

30-10-2014 12:41 | Jan Velinger

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called a decision by the country’s president, Miloš Zeman, to return from China aboard a private plane earlier in the week a “political mistake”. Speaking to Czech Radio, the prime minister suggested opting for a plane leased by PPF and J&T, rather than a government plane, had marred what had otherwise been a “positive” trip. Along with Mr Zeman, PPF owner and billionaire Petr Kellner met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the trip; the Czech news agency reported Mr Kellner signed a contract with Chinese energy firm CEFC. The President’s Office justified Mr Zeman’s use of the private plane as having saved time so he could attend the promotion of new generals on Czech soil on October 28th, a state holiday marking the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918. 

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