Former intelligence chief Karel Randák and former office of the
government employee Lenka Pikorová were both acquitted by a Prague court
on Wednesday of charges connected with bonuses paid to the previous
government’s chief-of-staff, Jana Nagyová (now Nečasová). The two had
been charged with the unauthorised handling of personal data. According to
the indictment, in 2011 Ms Pikorová allegedly gave copies of Nagyová’s
pay slips to Mr Randak, a member of the anti-corruption endowment board,
release to the media. The previous government office had declined to
release the salaries of its employees despite repeated requests by the
media that had been alerted to Nagyová’s unusually high bonuses.
Wednesday's decision by the lower-instance court has already been appealed
by the state prosecutor.
Ms Nagyová married former prime minister Petr Nečas last month; she is a central figure in a spying and corruption scandal which led to the unexpected fall of his government earlier this year.
The chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Bohuslav Sobotka, has called
on Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok to pass a new law which would suspend
church restitutions for a year and would leave all the buildings at Prague
Castle in the care of the state. Mr Sobotka argued that Prague Castle as a
site was a symbol of the Czech state and that no buildings that make up
complex should belong to the Church. When meeting with Cardinal Dominik
Duka earlier this week, Mr Rusnok said that this is not a pressing issue
and stressed that there was no need for legislative steps.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Rusnok reaffirmed his position at a press conference making clear that questions over Church restitution and Prague Castle would not be up to his cabinet but up to the next government to decide. The outgoing justice, interior and culture ministers will, at the same time, prepare possible alternative solutions.
In related news, Cardinal Duka strongly criticized the Social Democrats on Czech Radio on Tuesday afternoon, comparing the possibility of Prague Castle being exempted from church restitution to actions taken by the country’s former Communist regime. His statements, and the raising of his voice in the broadcast, saw him clash with the programme’s host, and led to his being cut off. Czech Radio said in a statement that the cardinal had breached the broadcaster’s pre-election impartiality rules.
A special Russian Antonov An-30B aircraft landed at Pardubice airport on Wednesday ahead of a planned observation mission in the Czech Republic over the next one or two days, the Czech Defence Ministry’s Vladimír Šupšak told the Czech News Agency. The Russian inspection team will take pictures of locations of strategic importance on Czech territory under the Open Skies programme of armament monitoring. The country is obliged to accept four observation missions a year and it is allowed to conduct four of its own abroad annually, Mr Šupšak confirmed. The Russian inspection team has 17 members, including the flight crew, technicians and inspectors.
According to as yet unofficial reports, one of the original founders of commercial broadcaster TV Nova, Vladimír Železný, could return to run TV Barrandov. The station is to make an announcement on Thursday. If confirmed, Mr Železný, who ran TV Nova throughout the 1990s as the country’s most successful private broadcaster, would replace Jaromír Soukup. The head of internet news site Digizone, Jan Potůček, has cited sources close to the broadcaster who allegedly had confirmed the move. According to analysts, Mr Železný could gradually improve TV Barrandov’s ratings. Currently, the station focuses much of its programming – including films and series – on older viewers.
A wellness hotel, restaurant and farm in Olšany, formerly owned by Czech actor and comedian Bolek Polívka, was auctioned to an unknown buyer on Wednesday for 15 million crowns. According to reports there were potential buyers but the initial bid was not challenged. The farm and hotel suffered financial difficulty after renovation costs exceeded original estimates. Mr Polívka, a famous entertainer in Czech film and TV, declined to comment. His agent revealed the actor would discuss the case in an upcoming interview.
The gas company Pražská plynárenská, serving more than 400,000 homes and other sites in the Czech Republic, will test gas lines in the capital and surroundings this week. According to Czech Radio’s Regina, testing will continue through Friday. In testing, companies regularly add an odorous substance to natural gas to make leaks easily detectable by end-users.
Petra Kvitová beat the world number four Agnieszka Radwanska in her first game at the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Tuesday, with the final score 6:4,6:4. The top Czech female singles tennis star, Kvitová, lost to Radwanska last year at the same stage and eventually pulled out of the championship. Kvitová’s group this year also includes the defending champion Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber.
The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the New Jersey Devils in their last outing in the NHL, leaving the Devils’ with only one regular-time win in their first nine games. Star forward Jaromír Jágr, who joined the hockey club after going all the way to the Stanley Cup finals with Boston, expressed his frustration on-line. The player has two goals and four assists in the season so far.