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 Health Ministry has ordered emergency inspections of alcoholic beverages in cafeterias and restaurants on Monday in the whole of the Czech Republic, following a string of cases of Methane Alcohol poisoning in different cities since last week. So far, three people have died as a result of poisoning, and a number of others were hospitalized in grave condition. The most recent case was in the central Bohemian city of Příbram, where a man was admitted on Sunday night after losing his sight. If the inspectors find any hard alcohol of questionable origin, the information will be immediately handed over to the police.
The trial of 52 defendants accused of manipulating state tenders at the Defense Ministry began Monday morning at the Regional Court in České Budejovice, South Bohemia. Eleven former employees of the Defense Ministry, 38 representatives of private businesses, two notaries and a lawyer are being accused of influencing reconstruction tenders worth 300 million crowns in five different cities. Ninety minutes after the beginning of trial, almost all of the defense lawyers left the court room in protest, claiming that the conditions were not appropriate for trying the case. The largest court room in the regional court could barely fit all of the persons involved in the trial, and defense lawyers complained of having little room at their desk. The trial may last for as long as a year, a member of the judging panel has said.
The Supreme Court of the Czech Republic has rejected an appeal from the head of the Midwives Union, Ivana Königsmarková, on Monday. Last year, Ms Königsmarková received a two-year suspended sentence for negligence resulting in grievous bodily harm during a home birth, and was banned from carrying out home births for five years. She was accused of not carrying out proper CPR procedures on a newborn after complications at birth. The defendant has maintained her innocence throughout the trial. Ms Königsmarková said she will take her appeal to the Constitutional Court. Home births are highly frowned upon by the Czech medical establishment, and birth assistants are usually unable to get proper license to carry out births in the home.
The Czech Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) has concluded that more than 27 million crowns were incorrectly disbursed as part of the Czech Northeastern regional operational programme in 2007-2011. NKÚ controlled 13 projects that were funded with 373 million crowns from EU subsidies. The regional council, which is the body in charge of selecting projects for funding and distributing funds, has allegedly broken a number of regulations concerning the assessment of submitted project proposals. The NKÚ says the council’s decision process was subjective and lacked transparency. These irregularities are grounds for a request to return the funds.
The level of unemployment has not changed in August from July’s 8.3 percent in the whole of the Czech Republic, although there are approximately 1,000 more people looking for work. The number of new positions increased by 3.6 percent. In Prague, the level of unemployment went up in August by a tenth of a percentage point to 4.4 percent. In some regions, unemployment is above 10 percent. Analysts expect the situation on the job market to get worse starting in September, in part due to the large number of fresh college graduates that will enter the market. Given the current economic recession in the Czech Republic, employers are cautious about hiring a lot of new workers. A Pricewaterhouse Coopers analyst has said that unemployment figures may improve in the new year.
The management of Prague’s National Theatre has called for the dismissal
of Culture Minister Alena Hanáková, over Friday’s unexpected sacking
the theatre’s director Ondřej Černý. The management questioned the
move in an open letter to the prime minister and criticized the culture
minister’s decision to appoint her deputy Martin Sankot as a temporary
replacement. The culture minister has agreed to meet with theatre
representatives on Tuesday but made it clear that her decisions regarding
the theatre were irrevocable.
Minister Hanáková on Friday sacked the theatre’s director without forewarning, later saying that she was not happy with the pace of the ongoing merger of the National Theatre and the Prague State Opera. The theatre head has rejected the stated reason for his dismissal saying his sacking and the manner in which it was undertaken reflected “arrogance of power”. Černý’s mandate was to have expired in March of 2013. A number of Czech actors, playwrights and theatre directors have sighed a petition against his dismissal.
The amount of Czech exports to Russia should break the record of approximately 115 billion crowns, or six billion American dollars, this year. Last year, Czech companies exported around 94 billion crowns worth of goods to Russian. According to the Industry and Trade Ministr Martin Kuba, Russia is among the top priorities for Czech international trade. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, imports a large amount of its gas and petrol from Russia. A number of Czech firms have won large tenders in Russian in the past few months. Among them are a Brno company Unis, which will renovate an oil refinery in Krasnoyarsk, while Czech companies under the leadership of OHL ŽS will begin the construction of a railroad in the Urals this year, with a total budet of 58 billion crowns.
A large first broke out at an Asian market in the Černovice district of the Moravian capital Brno. The fire started just after midnight on Monday and was eventually given the highest level of fire alert, by the Brno fire brigade. No one was hurt, but the damages are estimated to be as much as five million crowns. It took 80 fire fighters from 15 fire brigades to get the blaze under control by nine o’clock in the morning. The burned down building was right next to another in the market that had been victim to a massive fire last year. So far it remains unknown how the fire had started.
The third annual symposium for Roma sculptors has started on Monday at the Museum of Roma Culture in Brno. Five artists from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Albania, Hungary and Poland will create sculptures inspired by the Cejl street in Brno, which is home to many of the city’s Romani residents. The sculptures created at the week-long festival will be part of a travelling exhibit that will go to Slovakia, Hungary and Poland and will later return to the Czech Republic.
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