In related news, emergency inspections of 410 restaurants and drinking establishments in nine of the country’s 14 regions throughout Monday and Tuesday, uncovered flaws in 75 cases – the majority related to missing acquisition records. Establishments will have to provide the missing documentation within three days, Health Minister Leoš Heger said on Wednesday. Two cases are being investigated by the police, six cases are being handled by customs officials. In several cases, establishment owners were ordered, in the presence of a hygiene officer, to destroy liquor on site.
The prime minister has come under fire for saying that support for Pussy
Riot and the Dalai Lama are harming the country’s interests and export
potential. The coalition party TOP 09 said on Tuesday that the views
expressed by the prime minister at the International Engineering Fair in
Brno were regrettable and could discredit the country.
Speaking to an audience of business leaders at the fair on Monday the Czech prime ministry said that while support for human rights must remain a top priority in Czech foreign policy, the false adoration of and support for the group Pussy Riot or the Dalai Lama were simply a fashionable trend that had nothing to do with supporting democracy and merely harmed the country’s exports.
A Prague court has revoked the 14 million crown bail for MP David Rath set by a lower instance court. The court ruled on the basis of an appeal by the state attorney on the case who argued that there were legal reasons to keep Rath in custody, among others the possibility that he might try to influence witnesses or flee from justice. The former central Bohemian governor is facing trial on corruption charges after being caught with an alleged 7 million crown bribe on his person.
Economist Jan Švejnar, who was considered one of the hot candidates in the upcoming presidential elections, has announced he will not be running for office. Mr. Švejnar said in a press release on Tuesday that he wanted to pursue his academic and consultancy activities. The Czech-born US based economist ran for office in 2008 when he was beaten in a tight race by President Vaclav Klaus.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has expressed grave concern regarding the latest developments and wants a central crisis committee established in Prague to try and prevent further loss of life and damage to health. He has urged closer cooperation with the media and local crisis committees in spreading the message and taking effective preventive measures. Meanwhile the opposition Social Democrats have called for the dismissal of several ministers, saying the Nečas administration had miserably neglected its duty to protect public health.
Two Czechs have been arrested on spying charges in Greece. The men –aged 28 and 33 - were detained for taking photos and recording video footage of a Greek military base and an airport on Lemnos Island. The men said in their defense they had made the documentation for a computer game they were working on. They are to be transported to Lesbos Island where they will be questioned by a state prosecutor.
The government will meet to debate the 2013 budget on Wednesday. The budget is tailored to a 100 billion crown deficit which should bring the gap in public finances to under 3 percent of the GDP. Expenditures are projected at 1,185 billion crowns, revenues at 1,085. The proposed budget hangs on the approval of government proposed tax-hikes which parliament recently rejected and which the government sent back unrevised linked to a vote of confidence in the Nečas administration. The government is also expected to discuss measures taken in connection with the methanol poisoning scare.
TOP 09 leader and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has clearly distanced himself from the prime minister’s statement. In an interview for Tuesday’s Lidové Noviny, Mr. Schwarzenberg said he was horrified by the prime minister’s words and expressed concern about the fate of a government that placed economic interests above human rights. Mr. Schwarzenberg said he hoped no Czech foreign minister would ever pander to the superpowers in order to serve the country’s economic interests. Dictators must be treated the same regardless of their size, Mr. Schwarzenberg noted.
Eight people have died of methanol poisoning from bootleg alcohol and two dozen are fighting for their lives in Czech hospitals. There is now growing concern for public safety as new cases are registered daily in different locations. Although two cases of methanol poisoning have appeared in central Bohemia the vast majority of cases are reported in Moravia. The health ministry has ordered inspections in cafeterias and restaurants around the country and the public has been warned not to consume unlabeled alcohol or spirits on tap. Police are still trying to trace the source of the contaminated liquor and it is not clear how much of it may be on the market or where it may surface. A number of suspect bottles confiscated by the police on Monday carried a Drak spirits producer label, but the company says the labels were fake. Three cases of methanol poisoning have been reported across the border in neighbouring Poland. Two people are reported to have died and a third has gone blind.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery