Vlastimil Picek has become the Czech Republic’s minister of defence, after being officially named by President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday morning. Mr. Picek, who is not party-affiliated, was chief of the general staff of the Czech Army for five years and had been serving as first deputy defence minister. His appointment comes three months after the sacking of his predecessor Karolína Peake, who lasted only a week in the post. Prime Minister Petr Necaš held the defence portfolio in the interim. President Zeman said he respected the general as an expert who was familiar with the problems of his ministry.
The English Premier League club Arsenal are interested in buying Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech from their London rivals Chelsea, the Daily Mail reported. Čech, who is currently in Prague with the Czech squad ahead of a pair of World Cup qualifiers, has won virtually every trophy possible in nine years at Chelsea. Meanwhile, his international teammate Tomáš Rosický has said he will consider his situation at Arsenal in the summer; the 32-year-old midfielder has not been a regular starter for the club this season.
Heavy snow falls have caused problems on roads and railway lines around the Czech Republic, such as at the Tanavld border crossing with Poland, and relatively high numbers of accidents have been reported. In some parts of the country, 40cm of snow fell between Monday and Tuesday. With temperatures above zero, the snow is expected to thaw quickly and there have been warnings of icy surfaces on Wednesday morning.
Police have shelved a criminal complaint taken by the team of defeated candidate Karel Schwarzenberg over a full-page advertisement that appeared in the tabloid Blesk on the eve of the second and final round of a presidential election in January, the website Tyden.cz reported. The ad urged voters not to support Mr. Schwarzenberg, an aristocrat who spent much of his life in Austria, and highlighted his disagreement with the post-war expulsion of Czechoslovakia’s German populace. The candidate’s team said the advert contravened the electoral law. It was paid for by lawyer Vladimír Zavadil, who was a secret police officer under the Communist regime.
The Czech Mint in Jablonec nad Nisou is to issue a collection of four gold and silver medals in tribute to the late graphic artist Oldřich Kulhánek, who designed the country’s banknotes, the news site iDnes.cz reported. In recent years, Kulhánek – who died earlier this year at the age of 72 – had been working with the national mint on large gold medals bearing motifs from banknotes; the same motifs will appear on the miniatures currently being produced.
The Private Entrepreneurs’ Party has filed a criminal complaint against the shadow finance minister, Jan Mládek, over a public statement in which he characterized self-employed owners of small businesses as parasites who exploit their employees and fail to contribute to the social security system. Mr Mládek, who made the statement at the Social Democratic Party’s weekend conference, has since apologized for his words saying his criticism had in actual fact been targeted against the government which set down a framework under which small businesses had excessively generous tax privileges. The shadow finance minister’s words caused an uproar and the chairman of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, clearly distanced himself from the statement, apologizing on Mr. Mladek’s behalf.
France’s Areva has filed a protest against the decision made by the
Czech Anti-Monopoly Office confirming its exclusion from the 10 billion
dollar tender for the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant in
southern Bohemia. A spokeswoman for the company said Areva was convinced
that the Anti-Monopoly Office had failed to comply with a number of
requirements for tender review proceedings set by Czech and European law.
It believes the office made the decision surprisingly swiftly and did not
take into account 95 percent of the evidence Areva produced in its own
Areva was rejected from the tender for allegedly failing to meet legislative and commercial requirements. Westinghouse Electric Corp. and a Russian-Czech group led by Rosatom Corp.’s unit ZAO Atomstroyexport are still competing for the deal. ČEZ should choose the winner in mid- 2013 and sign a final contract with the respective company by the year’s end.
Intensive efforts are underway to try to secure the release of two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan last week. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction. The two women, both in their mid-20s were kidnapped in Balochistan province when unknown assailants stopped their van. The guard traveling with them was later released. The Czech Foreign Ministry has so far been unable to trace their whereabouts and is communicating with the local authorities. It has warned Czechs against making trips to the region. President Zeman met with the Pakistani ambassador to Prague on Monday and handed over a letter to the Pakistani president asking for assistance in the matter. There is speculation the two women could have been abducted to Afghanistan.
President Miloš Zeman will visit Slovakia on April 4-5, the office of the Slovak president confirmed on Monday. He is expected to hold talks with his host, President Ivan Gašparovič, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and the Speaker of Parliament Pavel Paško. According to Prime Minister Fico, President Zeman is popular with the Slovak public and has many friends in the country. President Zeman is credited with improving Czech-Slovak relations in the years between 1998 and 2002 when he headed the then Czech government.
Indonesia has extradited a Czech national convicted of murder to the Czech Republic. This is the first case of its kind since the two countries do not have an agreement on the extradition of offenders. The decision may set an important precedent. Tomas Toman was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison in 2008 for beating to death a young man at a Prague night club. He fled the country to evade the jail sentence, going first to Australia and later to Indonesia in the hope that the authorities would not give him up.
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Czech teenager builds second-largest ever Millennium Falcon LEGO model
Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives
HN: Developers aiming to sell co-living concept in Prague
Press: Era of 100-crown lunch special is over, as food prices rocket