Social Democrats’ chairman Bohuslav Sobotka says Jan Fischer should step down as finance minister in the interim Czech government over alleged opaque financing of his presidential campaign. In interviews with a number of Saturday’s newspapers, Mr. Sobotka said Mr. Fischer’s remaining in office could be an insurmountable hurdle for the Social Democrats in a vote of confidence in Jiří Rusnok’s caretaker cabinet. Jan Fischer received over CZK 5 million in donations from sponsors, much of it in cash, in the week prior to his appointment, allowing him to clear debts arising from an unsuccessful presidential campaign earlier this year.
President Miloš Zeman, who chose Mr. Rusnok as interim prime minister, has invited the heads of the groups in parliament for talks at Prague Castle in a bid to win support for the government. The first such meeting should take place on July 22. A vote of confidence in the caretaker cabinet is expected on August 8. While it had initially appeared unlikely that the government could win such a vote, the parties elected to the lower house are divided on how to proceed and some Social Democrats have indicated they may give the government the nod if a vote to dissolve parliament next Wednesday is unsuccessful.
Former prime minister Petr Nečas has confirmed speculation that he is involved in a romantic relationship with his erstwhile chief of staff Jana Nagyová. She is in custody on charges relating to corruption and ordering illegal spying on Mr. Nečas’s estranged wife and was at the centre of a scandal that led to the fall of his government last month. The ex-PM told the newspaper Právo that he stands by Ms. Nagyová and foresees a future with her. He himself was questioned on Friday by the police, who say he secured lucrative positions for former MPs for his party in exchange for political favours; their case hinges on whether that amounted to corruption.
An anti-Romany demonstration scheduled to take place in the south Bohemian city of České Budějovice on Saturday afternoon was called off at the last moment. The organisers, who had originally said they expected around 1,000 participants, evidently decided to abandon the protest when it became clear turnout would be far lower. Later in the day an estimated 300 people gathered near a children’s playground in a district of České Budějovice largely populated by Romanies where tensions first broke out; they attempted to breach a police cordon but were outnumbered.
Seven people were injured in the eastern city of Opava on Saturday morning when a local train crashed into a delivery truck at a level crossing without barriers. The train, which was running from Bruntál to Opava Východ, was derailed during the collision. None of the injuries are regarded as serious.
A 52-year-old Prague man has been taken into psychiatric care after releasing gas in his apartment with a view to committing suicide. He phoned a helpline on Friday evening saying he was expecting to die once an explosion took place. However, his actions could have threatened the lives of the other residents in his building in the Břevnov district. The police and rescue workers managed to get to him before an explosion occurred.
Last term’s Czech cup winners Jablonec beat league champions Viktoria Plzeň 3:2 on Friday in the Super Cup, the curtain raiser for the 2013–2014 soccer season. The result means that Jablonec coach Roman Skuhravý has already picked up two trophies since being appointed in May. This year’s Super Cup game was the fourth since the competition’s inception. The first round of the top flight season takes place next weekend.
Former prime minister Petr Nečas has strongly condemned the police
investigation of alleged corruption in his government. Speaking to
reporters after being questioned by investigators on Friday, Mr Nečas
the investigation was a “fabricated political case”, and the state
attorney overseeing the case was acting “wilfully”. The former cabinet
leaders also said he would not step down as MP despite the fact the police
has asked the lower house to strip him of his parliamentary immunity so
that he can be prosecuted.
Petr Nečas stepped down as prime minister last month after the police arrested his chief of staff, Jana Nagyová, and three former MPs for his party, the Civic Democrats. The authorities believe the MPs were corrupted when they accepted posts in state run-firms in return for giving up their seats in the lower house to make way for government legislation. Ms Nagyová also allegedly tasked the country’s military intelligence with spying on Mr Nečas’ wife.
The Czech authorities last year confiscated record amounts of marihuana and methamphetamine, according to an annual report by the country’s anti-drug agency. In total, 563 kg of marihuana and nearly 32 kg of methamphetamine was confiscated in 2012. The police also registered an increase in the number of indoor marihuana growing operations while methamphetamine labs, mainly located in the border areas, increased their production. Last year, the police uncovered 199 marihuana grow ops, and confiscated over 90,000 marihuana plants. Most of the illicit drug was destined for the domestic market; however, large quantities were also to be exported to Ukraine, Hungary, the UK, and Scandinavia, the report says.
The Czech Justice Ministry Friday filed extradition request to the US embassy in Prague for US citizen Kevin Dahlgren who is wanted in the Czech Republic over four murders, a spokeswoman for the ministry said. The request was filed a day after the ministry received the respective documents from Brno prosecutors. Twenty-year-old Kevin Dahlgren is suspected of murdering a four-member family he was staying with in Brno in May. He then fled to the US where he was detained upon arrival and has since remained in custody.