One of the largest construction companies in the country, Hochtief VSB, has won a tender to reconstruct buildings belonging to the Czech Defence Ministry. The contract for the one billion crown project is expected to be signed in the next few days. The other companies that entered the tender were Metrostav, Prumstav, Subterra, and Konstruktiva Branko.
Police fear another Czech businessman, for whom an arrest warrant has been
issued, has left the country to avoid prosecution. Tomas Pitr was found
guilty of tax evasion last month and was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison.
He appealed the verdict. Fearing he would leave the country, Prague's
Municipal Court issued a warrant for his arrest last week. In a telephone
interview with the internet news server Novinky on Thursday, Mr Pitr said
he was on holiday in the Swiss Alps and had yet to decide whether or not
he would return to the Czech Republic.
Tomas Pitr is one of the country's richest entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, another Czech millionaire, Radovan Krejcir, who is wanted on charges of fraud and planning the murder of a customs official, escaped to the Seychelles.
Czech wholesalers and retailers have been selling alcohol well below average price. Under Czech law they have until the end of the year to empty their stocks of spirits that are not labelled with a new tax stamps, or else face a heavy fine. Spirits with an alcohol content of 15% or higher have to be properly labelled and have the stamp. As of January 1 2006, any wholesaler or retailer who violates the law can face a fine of up to 5 million Czech crowns (over 200,000 US dollars).
The state prosecution has filed another charge against TV magnate turned politician Vladimir Zelezny. The Czech European Parliament member is accused of the attempt to harm a creditor when he held the post of general director at the popular commercial station TV Nova. Mr Zelezny is already under investigation for tax evasion amounting to 6.8 million crowns (some 280,000 US dollars).
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has denied "waging war" against the Czech media. In an article in Mlada fronta Dnes, Mr Paroubek said occasional disputes with journalists were normal, but only two papers - Mlada fronta and Lidove noviny - had created an impression of "war" between him and the media. The prime minister came in for some criticism recently when a Czech TV current affairs programme was axed after he complained it was biased.
The number of universities and students in the Czech Republic has been steadily rising over the last ten years, according to data released on Wednesday by the Institute for Information on Education. A decade ago there were 23 universities, but there are now 60, thanks to a law introduced in 1998 allowing the establishment of private universities. In the last academic year there were over 300,000 third level students in the Czech Republic; the most popular subjects are economics, technology and teaching.
The health minister, David Rath, says he wants to fill a growing shortage of dentists in the Czech Republic by attracting dentists from the neighbouring states of Slovakia and Poland. But the head of the Czech Dentists' Chamber, Jiri Pekarek, said he could not imagine why Slovak or Polish dentists would come here when they can make more money in Germany, Britain or Sweden.
Heavy snows and freezing temperatures have been causing problems on roads around the Czech Republic. Local authority workers have been working flat out trying to keep the country's roads open. The main Prague-Brno motorway was blocked for five hours on Wednesday after a collision involving three trucks. While in general the biggest difficulties have been recorded in mountain areas, motorists throughout the Czech Republic have been warned to drive carefully.