President Miloš Zeman would like to see the former first lady Livia Klausová become the country’s ambassador to Slovakia, according to Czech public television. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he was informed about the idea and found it totally unacceptable on the grounds that the former first lady has no experience in the field of diplomacy. He said that in his view the post should go to a career diplomat.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has openly acknowledged that the government’s S-card project, an electronic system for social and welfare benefit payments, was fraught with problems and should be scrapped. At a joint press conference with Labour and Social Affairs Minister Ludmila Mullerová, the prime minister said his proposal would be put to the cabinet at the earliest possible date. The S-card system has come under fire from the opposition, trade unions, recipients of welfare and even the Ombudsman for burdening those whom it is meant to serve and for leaving their personal data open to possible abuse. The system was criticized as being unethical and possibly even in violation of the Constitution. Some recipients of welfare benefits had threatened to take it to court despite the fact that the government backtracked and made significant concessions.
Production of beer increased 2.7 percent year on year in 2012, according to the Czech Brewers’ Association. The increase was driven by higher consumption and export of radlers. Consumption of radlers, popular among young people, reached 434.000 hectolitres in 2012, while consumption of traditional brews dipped slightly. There is also increasing demand for beer in cans and plastic bottles.
The country’s chief hygiene officer Vladimir Valenta has warned the public not to drink unlicensed spirits over the Easter holidays. There are fears that there is still a considerable amount of bootleg liquor containing the deadly methanol in people’s possession. Forty-five people died and many suffered permanent eye damage after drinking methanol-laced bootleg liquor which flooded the market last autumn. Although police confiscated thousands of litres of the deadly spirits a large amount is still unaccounted for.
An audit by the European Commission has arrived at the conclusion that the Czech Finance Ministry is partly to blame for malpractices in the process of drawing of EU funds in the Ustecky and Karlovy Vary regions, Czech Radio said on Thursday. Shirin Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the EU commissioner for regional policy, said the EC audit has confirmed both shortcomings in public tenders and insufficient control by the Finance Ministry. The Finance Ministry last week suspended the payment of European subsidies to the respective regions and expects them to cover the loss from their own budgets.
The Chamber of Deputies has passed an amendment paving the way for the introduction of the electronic registration of firearms in the Czech Republic, to replace an outdated hardcopy registration system. The new system, which will now have to receive majority backing in the Senate, will also introduce other changes, extending, for example, the period of validity of firearm permits. The amendment is also meant to increase safety and security in the transport of firearms, to be overseen by the police. If passed into law, the legislation will come into effect in the middle of next year.
Tomáš Berdych has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters in Florida. The Czech men’s tennis number one easily overcame Sam Querrey of the United States 6-1 6-1 in just 51 minutes, a contrast with his previous outing when it took him two and a half hours to overcome Colombia’s Alejandro Falla. Berdych will now face Richard Gasquet of France for a place in the semi-finals.
Police have sifted through some 300 tonnes of garbage at a waste site in the area of Jihlava since Tuesday evening, idnes and Tn.cz report, speculating that officials may have found the body of a 15-year-old girl missing in the area since mid-March. According to sources, she was last seen leaving a local discotheque with another individual. Both idnes and Tn.cz report that police had uncovered key evidence in the case and were holding a suspect who has allegedly already confessed to the girl’s murder.
Construction work at the AZ Tower in Brno – at 111 metres the tallest building in the Czech Republic – is complete; officials said that workers were now only finishing up the interiors. The AZ Tower, designed by architects Gustav Křivinka and Aleš Burian, edges the City Tower at Prague’s Pankrác by two metres. The building is slated to house offices, apartments, restaurants and shops and other services, including an auto salon and fitness club. The new building was designed to make use of Green technology in order to leave a smaller ecological footprint.
The Czech Republic's Constitutional Court on Wednesday threw out treason charges filed by a group of senators against former president Václav Klaus. Parliament's upper house, dominated by the leftwing Social Democrats, voted on March 4 to file the charges against the then outgoing president on the claim he had on several occasions acted outside the boundaries of the country’s constitution. Central to the treason charge was a controversial amnesty Mr Klaus declared on January 1. Had Mr Klaus - who stepped down on March 7 - been convicted as charged, the worst punishment he could have received was the loss of office and a ban from running for president again.
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