President-elect Miloš Zeman met with the current head of the president’s office, Jiří Weigl, as well as Prague Castle administrative director Ivo Velíšek on Friday to discuss transition steps. Mr Zeman will be inaugurated as the Czech Republic’s third president in March. The president-elect said he aimed to meet with Prague Castle employees to find out who would be staying on following the departure of the current head-of-state Václav Klaus. Mr Zeman revealed he had already chosen future aides at the Castle, one of whom is his secretary Jaroslav Hlinovksý, in the past employed by Mr Zeman’s controversial former aide Miroslav Šlouf, the Czech news agency reported.
In related news, Miloš Zeman will meet with the outgoing president,
Václav Klaus, on Tuesday afternoon and with Prime Minister Petr Nečas on
Tuesday evening, the Czech news agency reports citing unofficial sources.
Mr Zeman’s first, ČTK writes, is expected to be amicable. Alleged
political differences aside, Mr Klaus and other members of his family,
clear ahead of the election they favored Mr Zeman as the next president.
Klaus steps down after two terms on March 7.
The president-elect’s meeting with the prime minister, by contrast, is expected to be more formal in nature; the day he was elected, Mr Zeman questioned the legitimacy of the centre-right coalition, saying it would be better if the country saw early elections.
The sister TV stations Pětka and Metropol have stopped production of new programming and has opted to air re-runs news website mediar.cz says. According to the site, the stations have been out of money for two months. Earlier reports said that Metropol Productions, the firm behind both stations, had lost funding from businessman Luboš Měkota, whose holdings have been frozen by the police. Empressa Media is reportedly interested in the sister stations. Financial website IHNED, meanwhile, writes that the staff and management will learn more in mid-February; employees are already owed two months in unpaid wages, a station official confirmed.
A flu epidemic in the Czech Republic has shown few signs of abating: on the contrary, the number of reported cases of acute respiratory illness this week rose by 9.6 percent and flu across all age groups by 33 percent. There are currently 264 serious cases in the country, Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimír Valenta revealed; the flu this season has claimed 51 lives in the Czech Republic. The southwest of the country, by comparison, has seen a stagnation or slight decrease in the number of reported cases.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority secured 320 litres of spirits lacking proper documentation at an illegal warehouse in Karlovy Vary, blocking distribution to retailers. Police and customs officials helped in the operation. According to an official, the lack of documentation as well as packs of unused labels (belonging to producer Likérka Drak), suggest illegal alcohol production. Samples of the spirits uncovered are being tested: the results will be known next week. Forty people in the Czech Republic died from methanol poisoning over the last six months after consuming bootleg liquor.
Seven people at a bar on the outskirts of Olomouc suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in the early hours of Saturday. At around 1 am customers began complaining they were feeling ill and two fell unconscious; all seven were transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment. The accident was likely caused by chimney or flue blockage and is now under investigation. Fire fighters aired out the venue but have ordered the proprietor not to use the gas furnace until the problem is resolved.
Nominations for the 20th inception of Český lev, the Czech Lion national film awards, will be announced at Prague’s Lucerna cinema on Saturday night. The event, which will be shown live on public broadcaster Czech Television, precedes the actual awards ceremony, which takes place in exactly a month’s time. Members of the Czech Academy of Film and Television chose from among 30 feature films and 15 documentaries that premiered in 2012.
The police have accused 27 people, including 25 former and current mayors of municipalities in the northern Ústí region, for having taken out government grants to repair damages that never occurred, a spokesman for the anti-corruption unit of the police said on Friday. The mayors applied for grants to the Ministry of Regional Development in 2009 and 2010 to reconstruct public property damaged by torrential rain and other natural causes. The police however discovered that no such damaged occurred. The former and current mayors are accused of embezzling some 125 million crowns, and face up to 12 years in prison.
The Czech Supreme Administrative Court has received nine complaints over the recent direct presidential election, the news agency ČTK reported on Friday. The agency said one of the petitions came from an activist who complains about the decision by the Interior Ministry to disqualify two aspirants – Vladimír Dlouhý and Tomio Okamura – from the race; another complaint is reportedly related to the choice of members of election committees overseeing the voting. A Czech anti-corruption group said they would also file a complaint because of an alleged breach of the voting law which they believe took place when a supporter of Miloš Zeman ran a full-page advertisement against the other candidate in the running, Karel Schwarzenberg, on the first day of voting in the second round. People can file complaints against the election until February 5; the court will than have 15 days to review them.
The unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2012 reached 7.2 percent, which was 0.7 percent more than in the same period in the previous year, according to figures by the Czech Statistical Office released on Friday. The authorities registered some 380,000 jobless people in the last three months of 2012, which was 44,000 more year-on-year. The number of those unemployed for over a year rose as well, and they now account to over 42 percent of the total number of jobless people. Analysts say the fresh data confirm a negative trend of rising unemployment. Although companies are not laying off workers en masse, those who are made redundant are having trouble finding work.