Transportation Minister Zdeněk Žák has threatened OHL ŽS, the company responsible for the reconstruction of the major D1 motorway, that he will withdraw from their contract if the company does not renew construction work as soon as possible. OHL ŽS halted demolition and reconstruction work last week, saying that the longest motorway in the country is in much worse shape than they expected, and asked the Czech Road and Motorway Directorate to cover additional costs. Minister Žák urged both sides to come to a sensible decision soon and renew the work. The major construction and road expansion project began two months ago and is meant to be completed in around six years.
Moody’s Investors Service rating agency has renewed the Czech Republic’s A1 rating on Friday. The agency gave the country a stable economic outlook thanks to the significant stabilization of the tax system and the limited negative effects of the debt crisis of the Eurozone on the country’s economy. The Czech Republic has held the A1 rating from Moody’s since 2002. According to the agency, Prague has proven that it is determined to take drastic measures in order to lower the deficit, which has been a key factor in maintaining trust in its fiscal policies and creating financing reserves before the recent change of cabinet.
The police will question the current Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek, a former defense minister Alexander Vondra and the acting chairman of the Civic Democratic party Martin Kuba, in connection with cases involving former chief-of-staff of the prime minister’s office Jana Nagyová. The current and former defense ministers will be question in connection to Mrs. Nagyová allegedly ordering the military intelligence service to follow then prime minister Petr Nečas’ wife. Mr. Kuba will be questioned in connection to alleged bribes that were offered to former Civic Democratic MPs last year by member of the cabinet. Mrs. Nagyová, who is at the center of the multi-case scandal that brought down Mr. Nečas’s government last month, was released from jail on Friday after a month in police custody.
Around 70 right-wing extremists attended a protest on Saturday in the Moravian town of Svitavy in support of the jailed skinhead Vlastimil Pechanec, who is serving a 17-year sentence for a racially motivated murder in 2001. Similar protests have been held in Svitavy for the past eight years, though this year the attendance is lower than in the past. Last year, some 130 people attended.
The traditional Summer School of Slavonic Languages began on Saturday at Palacky University in Olomouc. The annual three-week program is meant to introduce students from all over the world to Czech language, culture and literature, also offering optional Russian and Polish courses as well as organized weekend trips to a number of Czech towns. This year, around 80 students from 25 countries will be participating in the program. The largest group of students by country came from France.
Parts of the Krkonoše National Park have been closed off to the public as of Saturday. Park officials have done so in an attempt to limit damage to nature, which is often caused by blueberry pickers who go off the marked trails in the summer months. The regulation, which does not apply to marked trails, will be in effect until 15 October. The park has been issuing similar regulations since 2001.
Prague’s Slavia tied with Ostrava’s Baník 1:1 on Friday night in the first Gambrinus league football game of the season. Although Slavia had a good showing playing on home turf, Baník were the first to score. Although Slavia’s Tomáš Mičola evened out the score two minutes later, the home team was unable to get another goal before the end of the game. This is the eighth time in a row that Slavia was not able to win against the Ostrava team, and the sixth time that they did not win their first match of the season.
All four people accused in a bribery case of former PM Petr Nečas’ chief of staff have been released from police custody. Mr Nečas’s former chief aide, Jana Nagyová, left an Ostrava prison shortly after noon on Friday following a court ruling that there was no longer a risk of them influencing witnesses. Another three people, including the former head of the Czech military intelligence service, Ondřej Páleník, were released later on Friday They were detained last month in a large-scale police operation related to the case of three former MPs accused of bribe taking. The scandal eventually led to the collapse of the centre-right Czech government.
Three former MPs charged with bribe-taking but released this week could still face criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that their actions were covered by their parliamentary immunity. The three former Civic Democrat deputies faced bribery charges for allegedly having agreed to quit their seats in the lower house in return for posts in state-run companies. However, a spokesman for the Supreme Court said on Friday their immunity only applied to their decision to step down as MPs while any further circumstances as well as their motivation could be subject to criminal proceedings.
The police have charged a 31-year-old woman with the murder of three newborn babies, the chief of the South Moravian police force, Leoš Tržil told reporters on Friday. The babies’ bodies were discovered in the cellar of the woman’s house in Vlasatice, outside Brno, on Thursday night. The woman confessed to having killed her twins roughly a year ago, and another newborn last May. The police were tipped off by the woman’s gynaecologist whom she told the newborn died in hospital soon after the birth. The woman said she had killed the babies due to her depressing financial situation, according to the police. If convicted, she faces a life sentence.