Fifteen percent of Czechs have encountered bribery in the public sector in the last year, suggests a new survey released by the watchdog group Transparency International. In the same report, 21 percent of Slovaks said they had come across bribery in the public sector in the previous 12 months, while the figure for the U.K. was five percent. The poll indicates that bribery is worst in the health sector in the Czech Republic, with over half of respondents saying they had given a bribe in order to receive better or speedier medical treatment.
Eight people suffered injuries when a motorist drove through a level crossing barrier and hit a passing freight train near the village of Cítov in central Bohemia on Monday night. All of those wounded were in the car; three suffered serious injuries and were airlifted to hospital. Police said the young driver had a high level of alcohol in his blood at the time of the accident; he is likely to face criminal charges.
Architects, preservationists and artists are planning a protest on Tuesday evening against the demolition of the Hotel Praha in Prague 6. Supporters say the 1980s building, which has a concrete exterior, is of significant architectural value and should be left standing. However, the PPF group, which bought it last month, plans to knock it down later this year to make way for a private park for its elite Open Gate school.
The Union of Film Distributors says 18 new Czech movies will be given cinema releases in the second half of 2013. The first of them will be Alice Nellis’s comedy Revival, which picked up the viewer’s prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday night. Among the other significant releases, at the start of next month a restored version of Vojtěch Jasný’s 1969 masterpiece All My Good Countrymen will start screening at art house cinemas. And Jan Hřebejk’s Honeymoon, which earned him the Best Director prize in Karlovy Vary, comes out on August 22.
The Olomouc high state attorney has asked the lower house to strip outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas of his immunity, opening the way for possible prosecution. The request is presently being debated by the mandate and immunity committee of the Chamber of Deputies, ahead of a vote in the lower house. It comes in connection with a corruption and spying scandal in which the outgoing prime minister’s former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyova is heavily implicated. Eight people were arrested in connection with the scandal, among them three MPs from the prime minister’s own party. The prime minister resigned over the scandal and said he was ready to give evidence.
TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek said that if the police wanted to charge Mr. Nečas with corruption in connection with the case of three MPS who had been given lucrative posts in return for party loyalty then he would not support a motion to release him for prosecution. Mr. Kalousek said such deals were a common practice in politics anywhere. The Civic Democrats’ deputies group in Parliament has also said it would stand by Mr. Nečas. On the other hand, the junior party in the outgoing government, LIDEM, and the opposition Social Democrats have said they will await the recommendation of the mandate and immunity committee which has been able to study the police file on Mr. Necas.
Former caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer is to take up the post of finance minister and deputy prime minister in the caretaker administration of Jiří Rusnok. Mr. Fisher announced the news at a press briefing in Prague on Monday, saying his main task would be to re-start economic growth and prepare next year’s state budget. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok’s cabinet is thus complete and President Zeman is expected to appoint it to office on Wednesday. It will then have 30 days in which to ask the lower house for a vote of confidence.
Mr. Fischer, who has a 5 million crown debt, incurred in the course of his 2013 presidential campaign, said on Monday that he would meet his obligations within 48 hours. The new finance minister said he would do so with the help of sponsors and individual contributions could be viewed on a transparent account.
President Miloš Zeman is hosting a dinner at Prague Castle on Monday for the outgoing centre-right cabinet of prime minster Petr Nečas. Among those who have accepted his invitation are the outgoing prime minister, environment minister Tomáš Chalupa, education minister Petr Fiala, defense minister Vlastimil Picek who is to remain in office in the Rusnok caretaker administration and the head of the government’s legislative council Petr Mlsna. A number of ministers have refused to attend in what is seen as an obvious snub to the head of state, whom the centre-right parties accuse of establishing a presidential “puppet” administration.
Outgoing finance minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Monday that the amount of money the state would borrow in 2013 would be 110 to 140 billion crowns lower than in previous years. Interest costs would go down and the state debt would decrease in annual terms for the first time in 15 years, Kalousek told journalists. The Finance Ministry has plans to borrow 230 billion crowns in 2013. Financial analysts say the news is not unexpected since the country’s financial reserves are excessive and it is not just possible but advantageous to borrow less.