Former Prime Minister Petr Nečas married his girlfriend and former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová on Saturday, Czech news servers reported. A number of corruption cases involving Ms. Nagyová, became the reason for the Mr. Nečas’ resignation and the fall of his government in June. Ms. Nagyová was arrested by the anti-corruption police and accused of ordering unauthorized spying by the military intelligence service of Mr. Nečas’s former wife Radka as well as being involved in the trading of lucrative positions in exchange for supporting the government with three MPs at the end of last year.
President Zeman’s advisory team met on Saturday at the Lany chateau to discuss the situation surrounding the plans of the OKD mining company to closed down the Paskov mine in the Moravian-Silesian region. Although a full list of participants has not been released, it is known that Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok and the president of the Confederation of Industry were present. Although Prime Minister Rusnok rejected the possibility of providing financial subsidies to OKD in order to keep the mine open for longer, he did say on Friday that he is planning to hold talks with the company’s shareholders next week in order to find a way to continue operations until 2016. Currently, the mine, which employs around 3,000 people is set to close by the end of 2014.
A two-day showcase of military planes began on Saturday at the Mošnov airport near the north Moravian city of Ostrava. The joint celebration of Days of NATO and Days of the Czech Air Force features presentations of various aircrafts and presentations by the military, police and rescue units from 16 countries. The Czech and Slovak air force will also commemorate 20 years since the separation of Czechoslovakia and the founding of the two independent nation armies. Last year around 208,000 people visited the Days of NATO celebration, according to the organizers.
Only some 50 people participated in a nationalist protest in the Moravian town of Přerov, even though the local police force expected as many as 300 extremists. Expecting a bigger march through the town, the local police force had asked for reinforcements, including helicopter and mounted units. The nationalist organization Czech Lions originally applied to hold a march through the town with at around 100 participants, but the in the end the march was called off. An even organized to counter the march was attended by around 100 people, most of whom were the local Romany residents.
A deputy health minister, Petr Nosek, will be leaving his post, according to a report in the Lidové noviny daily on Saturday. The announcement of the deputy’s departure comes after a crisis committee of hospitals, unions and patients sent an open letter to the Health Ministry on Tuesday asking for Mr. Nosek and his colleague Martin Plíšek to be dismissed from their posts, since they were responsible for drafting an ordinance on hospital fees, which is allegedly causing considerable financial problems for hospitals. Mr. Nosek is also expected to leave his position as the head of the board of directors of the biggest public health insurance company VZP. Health Minister Martin Holcát told Lidové noviny that Mr. Nosek is leaving based on an amicable agreement.
Representatives of unions, industry and the government met on Friday for three-way talks on the proposal for next year’s budget. Union and industry representatives said that the finance ministry’s draft budget was not conducive enough to economic growth and that the caretaker government should not be so strict in complying with the EU-mandated deficit ceiling of three percent of the GDP. After the talks, Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok announced that the government will not change the 112-billion crown deficit proposed in the draft budget, which is just below three percent of GDP. The outgoing government will be voting on the final proposal next Wednesday, though it will not be discussed by the lower house of parliament until after the general elections in late October. The budget proposal may be significantly altered by the new government and lower house.
The main lounge at the famous television tower on the Ještěd Mountain in northern Bohemia has been reopened after renovation works. The painstaking refurbishing returned the lounge to the way it looked when the tower opened in 1973, with the original interior design by Otakar Binar. The lounge will welcome the first members of the public on Saturday, as part of a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the construction of the tower. The 94-meter tall Ještěd Tower is considered to be one of the most original pieces of modern architecture in the Czech Republic. Its architect Karel Hubáček received the prestigious Auguste Perret Prize from the International Union of Architects in 1969.
Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok told reporters on Friday that if the owners of the Paskov mine in northern Moravia were to act as gentlemen in negotiations with the government, it would be possible to keep the mine open until 2016. The mine’s owner OKD announced earlier this week that it is planning to close the mine by the end of 2014, claiming that it has not been profitable for some time. The mine currently employs some 3,000 workers, in a region that already has high unemployment. OKD said that with financial help from the government, it would be willing to keep the Paskov mine open longer, but on Wednesday Prime Minister Rusnok refused to provide any subsidies to the firm. The government will open negotiations with OKD’s shareholders next week in an effort to keep it open for another three years.
The Prague City Hall has approved a controversial amendment to the ordinance on the regulation of gambling. The new city ordinance has lowered the number of places where gambling is allowed from 650 to 317 and includes a ban on advertising of gambling facilities and neon-light signs outside of these locations. Gambling facilities are an important source of income for the city coffers. Due to the limit on the number of places where gambling machines can be located, the city will most likely lose up to 400 million crowns from its budget, which is approximately half of what it receives from gambling today. The Green Party has strongly criticized the amendment, saying that it will not influence the overall number of gamblers. Others criticized the change for not being strict enough and leaving room for possible corruption.
Members of the activist organization Greenpeace held a protest in front of the Russian embassy in Prague on Friday morning demanding that the Russian government release their colleagues who were detained in the Barents Sea on Thursday. Russian law enforcement agents boarded a Greenpeace ship, which was floating near a Gazprom oil platform, arresting 30 crew members and detaining the vessel. The activists have been accused of aggressive and provocative behavior, after some of them attempted to board the oil rig from their ship.
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