News Polls close in European Parliament elections marked by record low turnout

24-05-2014 14:56 updated | Ian Willoughby

Polls have closed on the second and final day of elections to the European Parliament in the Czech Republic. On the two previous occasions that Czechs could vote in European Parliament elections fewer than 30 percent of voters took part; this time it could be less than one fifth, the Czech News Agency reported, quoting election officials. Almost 850 candidates are in the running for 21 seats with results set to be announced late on Sunday.

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President Zeman: PM’s stance on migrant crisis is a threat to country’s security

26-11-2015 11:58 | Ruth Fraňková

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s stance on the migrant crisis puts at risk the security of the Czech Republic, President Miloš Zeman said on Thursday in an interview for the daily Mladá fronta Dnes, describing the migrant crisis as an organised invasion. The Czech head of state also reacted to the prime minister’s criticism of his speech during November 17 celebrations at Prague’s Albertov, where he shared the stage with members of the Bloc Against Islam. The president said it was not his choice to stand next to the group’s leader Martin Konvička. 

Police search for source of new methanol poisoning outbreak

26-11-2015 11:58 | Ruth Fraňková

Police are searching restaurants and shops in the Kladno region in an attempt to find the source of methanol, which caused another severe case of poisoning at the weekend. The 66-year-old man from Velká Dobrá was taken to the hospital after he collapsed on Saturday and is still in critical condition. The police have against warned against the consumption of alcohol from unknown sources. The so-called methanol affair which hit the Czech Republic in September 2012 has claimed the lives of 48 people. 

Special meeting of Czech government scheduled over security situation

26-11-2015 07:27 | Chris Johnstone

A special meeting of the Czech government will be held on Saturday to discuss the security situation in the country and Europe. Prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who is currently on a visit to China, announced the move on Wednesday night. The session will also prepare the way for a meeting of EU leaders and Turkey in Brussels on Sunday which should chart ways of increased cooperation to tackle the immigration problem. 

Czech Radio council gets new head

26-11-2015 07:26 | Chris Johnstone

The hitherto head of public broadcaster Czech Radio’s governing council, Michal Stehlík, has resigned. His place will be taken by the former deputy chairman of the council, Petr Šafařík. Šafařík is a university teacher and publicist and a former member of the Green Party. Michal Stehlík gave the reason for his resignation as the events surrounding last month’s decision by Czech Radio’s general director, Peter Duhan, to step down. He was facing a call for his resignation over the employment of one of his sons at the radio, a move which is clearly ruled out under the broadcaster’s rules. 

Stepped up security seen in place until New Year

25-11-2015 17:06 updated | Chris Johnstone

Higher security measures are likely to be in place in the Czech Republic over Christmas and the New Year. The increased security already took effect on November 13 and 14 following the Paris attacks. They include stepped up police protection of airports, shopping centres, and some embassies. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said that there was no question of altering these measures now and that would depend in large part on developments in other European countries. Chovanec said Wednesday that the Czech Republic has detained a person suspected of having international links with terrorism. The minister made the announcement on his Twitter account on Wednesday afternoon. Police later said the man was Turkish and sought by Interpol. 

Lower house seeks up to 44 billion crowns for 2016 budget

25-11-2015 15:32 | Chris Johnstone

Members of the lower house of parliament proposed additional spending in the 2016 budget totalling up to 44billion crowns on Wednesday as they debated next year’s spending package. Most of the extra spending was focused on the army, border protection, education, and social services. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said he would address the new demands in the final third reading. He added though that many ministries are currently now able to spend all the funds they are already allocated. The Ministry of Defence has been earmarked 50 billion crowns this year but appears on course to spend just 34 billion, he added. 

Energy regulator says not facing dismissal after meeting with president

25-11-2015 15:23 updated | Chris Johnstone

The head of the Czech energy regulator, Alena Vitasková, has accused mafia groups of seeking to get her removed from her job. Vitasková made the comments ahead of the meeting with head of state, Miloš Zeman, on Wednesday. She was due to speak with president about the current state of support for renewable energy, where her office is refusing to make payments for 2016 because they have not been approved by the European Commission. Zeman has the power to sack the head of the independent energy office. She afterwards declared that he had no intention of doing so and that a solution to the support standoff could be found. 

Electronic motorway payments to be phased in within three years: ministry

25-11-2015 14:02 | Chris Johnstone

The Ministry of Transport says that it will make the transition from paper to electronic motorway tolls within three years. A similar electronic system will already be up and running in Slovakia next year. The ministry says that the new system will allow it to clamp down on counterfeit motorway stickers, a problem that was particularly evident at the start of 2015. Prices for year long stickers will be the same next year as this at 1500 crowns. 

Former bankruptcy judge Jiří Berka sentenced at Tábor court

25-11-2015 14:01 | Chris Johnstone

A former judge at the centre of a series of fraudulent bankruptcy cases has been sentenced to 8 years and six months. The court in Tábor handed down the sentence to Jiří Berka. Berka was discovered in 2003 to be behind a series of cases in which 10 companies were declared bankrupt on false and fabricated evidence with the overall damage estimated at 264 million crowns. Once declared bankrupt, the assets of the companies could be picked up for a pittance. A further eight people involved in the cases were also sentenced Wednesday. The verdicts can still be appealed. 

Ostrava coalition collapses, Social Democrats out of power

25-11-2015 11:05 | Chris Johnstone

The political coalition governing the Czech Republic’s third biggest city, Ostrava has fallen apart. The Social Democrats have quit the hitherto coalition with the ANO party and Christian Democrats. Their place has been taken by the Ostravak movement. The move means the Social Democrats are out of power for the first time since 1990. 


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