The Czech Republic saw record temperatures registered by numerous meteorological stations on Friday as a heat wave similar to that which hit the country last weekend set in. two areas in the Plzeň region registered 36.4 degrees Celsius on Friday; according to meteorologists this July was the sixth hottest in the country in 80 years. As a result, last month was also one of the driest, leading to fire warnings in places. Originally, advance predictions for July were considerably more conservative, suggesting that the last week in the month, for example, would average only around 25 degrees.
The Office of the Government on Friday released records of the salaries of its civil servants and top officials beginning in 2010, reversing a previous decision for them to remain private. Interest in the salaries was heightened by a corruption and spying scandal which led to the fall of the previous administration. According to the information released, the former head of the office, Lubomír Poul earned 1.17 million crowns a year plus bonuses, while Jana Nagyová, the former chief-of-staff charged in the scandal who was romantically linked to ex-prime minister Petr Nečas, earned almost one million crowns from 2011-2012 plus an additional two million in bonuses over two years. Critics charge that the height of the salaries was inappropriate for a cabinet that billed austerity as its main focus.
Czech actor Miroslav Donutil has said he is quitting the National Theatre, citing – as the “last straw” – a botched attempt by the current interim government to sack its director Jan Burián. Mr Donutil told Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes the move by the Culture Minister Jiří Balvín to remove the theatre head was the height of amateurism. Mr Donutil, who has starred in numerous stage productions as well as countless films including Dědictví, Pevnost and Pelíšky, was a member of the National Theatre for 23 years. He cited his long-term involvement with the theatre as well as fatigue as additional reasons for leaving.
Luboš Pašek, a long-term business partner of controversial Czech lobbyist Roman Janoušek, has claimed that some of the gold seized at a Prague bank in June by the country’s anti-crime unit is his. Police seized millions of crowns in gold bullion as part of an extensive raid that exposed a spying and corruption scandal that led to the fall of the previous government. Along with the seizure, Mr Pašek’s office and home were also searched. The businessman has filed charges against the state. According to his lawyer Prokop Beneš, the seizure was unlawful; he claims his client bought the investment gold from a certified seller and that the transaction and source of the funds were transparent; he added that the account was in his clients’ name. The lawsuit will go ahead if the police do not return the gold within six months, according to news site iDnes.
The regions of Ústí and Karlovy Vary will pay a total of 906 million crowns to the EU instead of 2.1 billion originally demanded for mistakes made in the North-West Regional Operational Programme, the Finance Ministry said on Friday. The ministry has also offered the regions interest-free financial assistance, CTK reported. The agreement could unblock a further amount of money for projects from the suspended programme. The payment should immediately unblock 5.5 billion crowns from EU funds, the Czech News Agency said, citing an earlier statement by Finance Minister Jan Fischer. EU funding has been suspended for over a year.
Interim Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok has told the news site aktualne.cz
that his government could continue to rule for several months even if it
fails to find support in next Wednesday’s confidence vote. The economist
referred to the Constitution as well as the rule of a previous government
under similar circumstances. The Chamber of Deputies
is to hold the vote on the future of the cabinet beginning 10 AM on
Wednesday. Only two parties in the chamber have expressed support, the
Communists and Public Affairs; the opposition Social Democrats remain
divided over the issue.
If the former centre-right coalition can shore-up a 101-majority as claimed, there is no chance Mr Rusnok’s government would be able to pass. The prime minister, a close associate of President Zeman’s, will visit deputies’ clubs to try and boost support. According to one report, he will not receive an invitation from the Civic Democrats, who oppose the current government as an attempt to bypass Parliament as well as the country’s constitution.
Czechs work an average 40.9 hours a week, which is the second longest hours in the EU after Greece, according to figures by the Czech Statistical Office released on Friday. The EU average is 37.3 hours a week. Analysts say Czechs work relatively long hours because of a lack of part-time jobs which account for around 5 percent of all work contracts, compared to the EU average of over 19 percent.
The Czech minister of culture, Jiří Balvín, on Friday reinstated the director of the National Theatre, Jan Burian, a day after he dismissed him. Mr Balvín was ordered to do so by Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok. The culture minister fired Mr. Burian, who was appointed by a previous minister, on the same day he took over at the National Theatre, a move that met with strong condemnation across the political spectrum; it also led a number of leading actors and its entire management team to quit the institution. Mr Balvín said he did not consider the matter a reason for him to step down.
The International Monetary Fund on Friday cut its forecast for the performance of the Czech economy in 2013 to an 0.4 percent contraction, from a previous estimate of 0.3 percent growth. The IMF said despite its healthy fundaments, the Czech economy was in the middle of a long recession caused by the Eurozone crisis and weakened domestic demand. The worsened outlook corresponds to the latest estimate by the Czech central bank which predicts a 1.5 percent contraction this year. For 2014, the IMF forecasts a growth of 1.5 percent.
Two Czech clubs won their first-leg games in the third qualification round for European soccer’s second-tier competition, the Europa League, on Thursday evening. Slovan Liberec went a goal behind against Zurich in north Bohemia, but managed to turn the game around to win 2:1. Jablonec, meanwhile, beat their guests, Norwegian side Strömsgodset, by the same score-line, with the winning strike coming in time added on. The second legs of those ties take place next Thursday.
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