News Press: Sobotka oversaw undervalued sell-off of mining firm while finance minister

03-04-2014 09:31 | Ian Willoughby

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka oversaw the sell-off of mining firm OKD for a suspiciously low price in 2004 when he was finance minister, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. The company was sold for CZK 4.1 billion when it was actually worth more than twice as much, the newspaper said. Mr. Sobotka had the value of OKD verified by a law firm that also represented the buyer, MfD said, quoting a police file. The current prime minister had previously worked at the law firm, which is headed by his friend. When the European Commission questioned the selling price, the Finance Ministry sent a letter to Brussels asserting that it had been in order – despite having received assessments putting the value of OKD at CZK 10.3 billion. Mr. Sobotka says the letter was signed by a deputy.

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Czech Chamber of Commerce and sellers warn of net loss of around four billion crowns

24-10-2016 13:53 | Jan Velinger

The Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism, the Czech Chamber of Commerce, and Atrium Czech Real Estate Management (managing the Flora shopping centre in Prague) held a joint-press conference on Monday warning that legislation passed this year – forcing large retailers to close their doors on seven state holidays – will lead to a net loss in revenues of around four billion crowns across the Czech Republic. Additionally, the grouping warned that the new law would lead to job losses, not just among cashiers or sellers but also cleaners and security. By contrast, the bill had support from the unions as it would allow employees in the service sector time off. October 28 is one of seven state holidays when large retail stores will not be allowed to sell products. 

Head of lower house calls on Castle to clarify situation, backs Brady for state honour

24-10-2016 13:19 | Jan Velinger

The chairman of the lower house Jan Hamáček has backed the prime minister’s call on the head of state for Auschwitz survivor George Brady to be given a state award in recognition of his life’s work. The politician said that he hoped President Miloš Zeman would heed the call but made clear that if he did not, there were other means by which the Chamber of Deputies could honour the 88-year-old. In addition, the head of the lower house stated that he felt that Prague Castle needed to do more to clear the matter up. The culture minister, Daniel Herman, has claimed that he warned by the president that if he met with the Dalai Lama (as happened last week) his uncle George Brady would not receive the state award. 

Tennis: Kvitová slips to 13th spot in WTA rankings

24-10-2016 12:43 | Jan Velinger

Czech tennis player and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová has slipped to 13th spot in the WTA rankings, down from 11th spot. The player lost a chance to secure 730 points by failing to qualify for this year’s WTA Finals. Fellow Czech player Karolína Plíšková, currently in fifth spot, will play in the prestigious tournament for the first time. In men’s tennis, Tomáš Berdych has slipped to 10th spot in the ATP rankings. 

Ex-police officer gets two year driving ban for drink driving incident

24-10-2016 12:02 | Jan Velinger

Ex-police officer Karel Kadlec has been given a two-year driving ban and an eight-month probation period for a drink driving accident in which he crashed into a vehicle which had stopped for pedestrians at a crossing. The accident took place last year; Mr Kadlec agreed to a breathalyser test but refused to provide a blood sample following the incident. The defendant has already appealed the court decision. The former police officer was involved in a separate incident this April: he is charged with having purposely crashed his vehicle into 29 parked cars in Prague’s Vinohrady district. 

Bisnode: Chinese capital in Czech firms fell by a tenth this year

24-10-2016 11:52 | Jan Velinger

Despite announcements of new Chinese acquisitions in the Czech Republic, Chinese capital in Czech companies decreased in volume this year, according to an annual report by the consulting agency Bisnode. Capital in Czech firms fell by around 616 million to 5.21 billion crowns, a decrease of around ten percent. The total number of domestic companies with Chinese owners decreased by 137 to 2,086, according to analysis of ownership structure published by the agency; the volume of Chinese capital in Czech firms in 2014 and 2015 had reached historic highs: increasing by 110 percent from 2.77 to 5.83 billion crowns. 

Deputy prime minister says George Brady deserves state distinction

24-10-2016 10:03 | Daniela Lazarová

Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek has echoed the prime minister’s call for Auschwitz survivor George Brady to be given a state award in recognition of his life’s work. Bělobrádek said that Mr. Brady was clearly a deserving nominee and since he had been promised the award it would be honourable to deliver on that promise. The 88-year-old Auschwitz survivor, who arrived in Prague on Sunday night, said he has been informed he would get the Order of T. G. Masaryk by the chief of Prague Castle protocol Jindřich Forejt. According to Mr. Brady was on the list of nominees but was removed from it after his nephew Culture Minister Herman met with the Dalai Lama. 

Two potential witnesses to conversation in which president reportedly threatened minister heard nothing

24-10-2016 09:52 | Daniela Lazarová

Two potential witnesses to a conversation in which President Zeman allegedly threatened Culture Minister Daniel Herman that if he met with the Dalai Lama his uncle, Auschwitz survivor George Brady, would not receive a state award, say they are unable to confirm the exchange. Trade Minister Jan Mládek and Transport Minister Dan Tok say that although they were within hearing, they were speaking to others and not paying attention to the conversation between the president and culture minister. President Zeman admitted that he had asked Culture Minister Herman not to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader but denied having threatened him. The culture minister’s claim has sent shock waves around the country and many politicians, academics and cultural figures are planning to boycott the award-giving ceremony at Prague Castle on the occasion of Czechoslovak Independence Day, October 28. 

Homeopathy sceptics stage "overdose" in number of cities

23-10-2016 20:28 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Homeopathy sceptics in a number of cities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia staged a mass "overdose" of homeopathic remedies, in a bid to prove they have no effect. In Prague homeopathy critics, among them doctors, vets and members of the Sysifos club of sceptics met on Palacký square where they demonstrated the production homeopathy medicine on homeo-rum which they offered the public. Similar happenings by homeopathy sceptics have been held abroad. 

Cardinal Duka celebrates mass for victims of Hungarian Uprising

23-10-2016 20:26 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Cardinal Dominik Duka celebrated a mass at the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul at Vysehrad on Sunday in memory of the victims of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. The uprising, which lasted from October 23 until November 10, 1956, started as a student protest and quickly grew into was a nationwide revolt against the government and its Soviet-imposed policies. It was brutally crushed by Soviet troops who invaded the country. Over 2,500 Hungarians were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 people fled the country. Mass arrests and denunciations continued for months after. 

George Brady arrives in Prague

23-10-2016 20:25 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Terezin and Auschwitz survivor George Brady, 88, who is at the centre of an awrd scandal that has reverberated across the political scene, arrived in the Czech Republic late Sunday afternoon. Mr. Brady expressed regret over the developments surrounding his award, but said that even if he was no longer up for a state award, he had wanted to visit his homeland. Palacký University in Olomouc has said it would be honoured to give Mr. Brady an academic award in recognition of his life’s work. The visit has spark great media interest and journalists were at the airport awaiting his arrival. 


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