Czech Radio has issued a statement expressing disquiet over the Greek government's decision to halt the broadcasting of the country's public service television and radio stations. The Czech station said the Greek government should not threaten the human rights of freedom and the right to information for all, adding that the independence of public service media was one of the pillars of democracy.
It has emerged that the police investigation also concerns at least two influential lobbyists, Roman Janoušek and Ivo Ritting. Mr. Janoušek is currently at his summer residence in Croatia, but the police reportedly raided his Prague office on Wednesday night. Investigators have also asked Prague City Hall for a copy of all contracts signed with Janoušek in the past.
The Czech Republic has moved up by seven notches to 14th place in KPMG’s global chart of VAT rates. This is due to an increase in the basic VAT rate to 21 percent in January of this year, while the average global basic VAT rate is 15.55 percent. The European average VAT rate is 20.5 percent. The tax burden on Czechs is thus higher than the global, as well as European average.
In a public statement to the nation, Prime Minister Petr Necas said he saw
no reason to resign from office in the wake of a police raid on the Office
of the Government late Wednesday. The prime minister said his conscience
was clear and he had seen no evidence implicating those of his associates
who were detained in the night raid. He called on the police and State
Attorney’s Office in Olomouc to clarify the reasons behind the extensive
police operation in which several people were detained, among others the
prime minister’s closest aide Jana Nagyova and the head of the Office of
the Government Lubomir Poul. The prime minister said that from the
information he had received in the course of the day it appeared that the
case revolved around three rebel Civic Democrat MPs who were suspected of
having accepted bribes in return for giving up their seats in Parliament.
The prime minister called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday evening to debate the crisis.
President Milos Zeman has scheduled a meeting on Friday with the prime minister, the police chief and opposition leader Bohuslav Sobotka to discuss the government crisis. The president’s office said Mr. Zeman would not be commenting on developments until he had received reliable information on the case.
Regions in the Czech Republic recently hit by floods have begun tabulating the damage costs. So far, damage to infrastructure and property across 25 municipalities in Plzeň has been estimated at 47.9 million crowns. The figure, however, is preliminary and appears likely to go up. Municipalities have also begun filing for financial relief so far counting 3.7 million. Beroun, not far from the capital, has been tabulating the damage to roads and bike paths, so far estimated at 30 million crowns. The overall figure for total damages there, however, is expected to increase considerably: between 200 and 300 million. Fifty million crowns, meanwhile, is being drawn by the region of Ústí in north Bohemia to be used for clean-up operations and repairs. The figure is not final: the regional governor pointed out it was around a ‘seventh’ of total funds which will be required.
Almost 50 percent of Czechs have expressed dissatisfaction with Miloš Zeman 100 days into his presidency, according to a new poll by the STEM/MARK agency. The results were released by Czech TV. Respondents graded the head-of-state, the first in the Czech Republic elected directly by the people, in a number of areas. Those who were critical towards the president, for example, found fault with his behaviour at a recent ceremony in which the crown jewels were put on display: three-quarters of those questioned said they did not believe he was ill but under the influence of alcohol. The president on Tuesday denied he had been drunk. Forty-nine percent of those questioned disapprove of the president, while 51 percent are in favour, according to the poll.
The Stanley Cup finals begin later on Wednesday, pitting the Boston Bruins (with Czech players David Krejčí and future hall-of-famer Jaromír Jágr) against the Chicago Blackhawks. The first two games take place in the Windy City. The Chicago Blackhawks have Michael Frolík and Michal Rozsíval on their roster, so regardless of which team wins, the feted cup, as is custom, will travel to the Czech Republic later this year. Members of the winning team are each ‘unofficially’ allowed to borrow the trophy for a day.
The number of inhabitants in the Czech Republic dropped by 3,300 people in the first three months of this year, the Czech Statistical Office revealed Wednesday. According to the bureau, the population number currently stands at 10,512,800; during the three-month period, deaths outnumbered births. Compared to the first quarter in 2012, however, both the birth and mortality rates went down, as did the number of abortions and weddings. By contrast, the number of Czechs getting divorced went up. More than 6,500 marriages ended in divorce, up by 400 cases from a year ago.
The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has lifted the flood warning it issued in the regions of central and south Bohemia, Ústí in north Bohemia) and Plzeň (west Bohemia) on Monday. Three towns still face potential danger from floods: Děčín and Ústí nad Labem, on the Labe River, as well as the UNESCO-listed Český Krumlov in south Bohemia, on the Vltava River, ČTK reported. However, water levels have fallen markedly and heavy precipitation is not expected in the country over the next few days. Extensive floods hit Prague and most regions in Bohemia, the western part of the Czech Republic, last week. The floods claimed lives and saw thousands of people evacuated from their homes.
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