News Police raid offices of Prague City Hall

11-08-2014 11:39 | Daniela Lazarová

The police’s anti-organized crime squad on Monday raided the offices of Prague City Hall, the ctk news agency reported. Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček confirmed the report, saying that he had no information regarding what the police search related to. The present and past mayors as well as several high placed city hall officials have been charged in connection with dubious contracts linked to Prague’s Opencard, and the police have recently been checking out other tenders, in particular for those relating to the construction of Prague’s tunnel Blanka.

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Killer of Social Democrat figure sentenced to 17.5 years

24-10-2014 17:04 | Jan Richter

A man convicted of last year’s murder of an influential Social Democrat politician has been sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. The court said that the man, a former army officer, gunned down Roman Houska in front of his home in the northern city of Ústí nad Labem in what looked like an execution, and rejected the shooter’s claims that he acted in self-defence. Media reports described the killing as a contract murder but the court said no motive had been established; however, if new evidence emerges, the authorities will act accordingly, the judge said. 

Tennis: Kvitová knocked out of WTA Finals

24-10-2014 16:54 | Jan Richter

Top Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová lost to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 2-6 3-6 in the group stage of the WTA Finals in Singapore on Friday, and has been eliminated from the event. Kvitová went ahead at the start of both sets but lost her lead after a series of errors and poor serving. The 24-year-old Czech said she was exhausted but would be in shape for the Czech Fed Cup team’s tie against Germany in Prague next month. 

Romany musician Eugen Horváth dies aged 74

24-10-2014 16:10 | Jan Richter

Czech Romany musician Eugen Horváth died on Friday at the age of 74, the Museum of Romany Culture in Brno said. The Slovak-born Horváth, known as Janko, came from a renowned musical family, and learned the play the violin at an early age. In 1969 formed his own cimbalom band which recorded several albums including the 1992 record Gypsy Weeping. 

Finance Ministry cuts GDP growth forecast

24-10-2014 15:54 | Jan Richter

The Czech Finance Ministry has lowered its forecast for this year’s GDP growth to 2.4 percent, down from its previous estimate of 2.7 percent. The ministry said the forecast was cut due to revisions of the country’s economic growth in the previous quarters as calculated according to a new European methodology, known as ESA 2010. The ministry expected the economy to grow by 2.5 percent in the next two years, mainly fuelled by domestic consumption. 

MPs overturn president’s veto on civil service bill

24-10-2014 15:49 | Jan Richter

Czech MPs on Friday voted to approve the government’s civil service bill, overturning the president’s veto of the legislation. The bill should depoliticize public administration, and overhaul rules for the employment of public servants. However, the president had earlier warned he would file a complaint with the Constitutional Court over the bill if it is approved. Mr Zeman criticized, among other things, the fact that the legislation formally introduced posts of politically appointed deputy ministers. A civil service bill was first adopted in 2002 as a prerequisite for the country’s accession to the EU but has never been implemented. 

Czech Airliners unions cancel strike after deal with management

24-10-2014 15:15 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Trade unions at the Czech national carrier Czech Airlines have cancel a strike planned for next Thursday after they reached a deal with the firm’s management. Earlier this week, the troubled firm announced salary cuts and massive layoffs; some 170 of the airline’s 400 cabin crew members are set to lose their jobs under the plan. After negotiations with the trade unions, the management promise to “limit the impact” of the restructuring. However, the agreement will not affect the basic features of the plan, Václav Řehoř, the head of Czech Airlines’ mother company, Czech Aeroholding, said. 

UK cancer patient Ashya King completes proton therapy treatment

24-10-2014 12:23 | Jan Richter

Five-year-old British cancer patient Ashya King received a final dose of proton beam therapy on Friday, concluding his six-week long treatment at Prague’s Proton Therapy Centre, doctors at the facility said. The boy has coped well with the treatment, and is now able to eat and sit by himself and move his hands, the doctors said. He is now set to return to Spain for rehabilitation. The physicians are optimistic about the boy’s prognosis but said they would only be able to say whether the treatment has been successful in several moths’ time.

Ashya King’s story received global attention after his parents took him from a UK hospital in August without his doctors‘ consent. They took him to Spain where they were arrested before being allowed to come to Prague for the special treatment. 

MPs postpone vote on controversial child care bill

24-10-2014 12:09 | Jan Richter

The lower house of the Czech Parliament has postponed a vote on controversial child care legislation. The bill would require all nurseries, kindergartens and informal babysitting groups to comply with strict hygiene rules which critics say would threaten their existence. It would also most likely lead to the closure of some 120 outdoor nurseries known as forest kindergartens. The bill, approved by MPs last month, returned to the lower house after a presidential veto and a new vote on the legislation was on Friday. But the coalition Christian Democrats said MPs should first determine whether the bill should be amended. 

Poll: Most Czechs consider Russia “future threat”

24-10-2014 11:56 | Jan Richter

Some 65 percent of Czechs consider Russia a threat for their country’s future, according to a poll by the STEM agency. Since last year’s poll that asked the same question, their number has risen by 29 percentage points. Around 46 percent of those polled also said that Russia posed a direct threat for the Czech democracy. A majority of Czechs, 80 percent, consider the crisis in Ukraine to be a threat for peace in Europe. However, 72 percent of people who took part in the survey said they did not believe that EU sanctions against Russia would help bring the conflict in Ukraine to an end. 

Václav Klaus to head National Council for Education

24-10-2014 10:00 | Daniela Lazarová

Ex-president Václav Klaus is to head the planned National Council for Education which is to be established in 2015, Education Minister Marcel Chládek told journalists on Friday. The 15-member council is expected to issue recommendations and draft a long-term strategy which would improve the quality of education across the country. Vaclav Klaus has in the past expressed serious reservations regarding the national curriculum, the quality of education provided at Czech schools and the manner in which the performance of different learning institutions is evaluated. 

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