Czechs abroad have started voting in the country’s early general elections. Polling stations in the US open at 2pm local time on Thursday and voters who have registered to vote in the elections will be able to do so until 9 pm on Saturday. Close to 8,000 Czechs around the world have registered to vote in the elections, some travelling hundreds of kilometers to the nearest polling station. There are 104 polling stations outside the Czech Republic, mostly at Czech embassies and consulates. Czechs abroad will be selecting candidates from the central Bohemian ballot. In the Czech Republic polling stations will open at 2pm of Friday and voting will end twenty-four hours later.
The Prague gas company Pražská plynárenská is testing its network for potential leaks by intensifying the gas odor additives between now and next Wednesday. People can report leaks at the emergency line 1239. The last such test was undertaken in May of this year following a gas explosion in a building in the centre of Prague.
The police are prosecuting 32 people with the smuggling and sale of illegal drugs in Vinařice prison near Kladno outside of Prague. Drugs sold illegally to inmates were for the most part heroin, crystal methamphetamine and marijuana. Drugs were allegedly smuggled in by visiting relatives, through the mail, in packages thrown over the perimeter fence or even by inmates themselves returning to the prison from work. The suspects in the case, if found guilty, could face up to five years in prison, the police revealed on Thursday.
The government’s former human rights commissioner Monika Šimůnková has accused the Rusnok cabinet of downplaying the security threat presented by Russian Cossacks in the Czech Republic as a concession to Moscow. Mrs. Šimůnková, who was dismissed as head of the government’s human rights section and later resigned as human rights commissioner said the real reason for her removal from office was a clash over an annual report on the state of minorities in the Czech Republic. She said the report she handed the government contained a warning regarding the risk presented by the cultural association of Russian Cossacks who were actively disseminating Russian propaganda. The prime minister allegedly ordered the passage to be scrapped in order not to antagonize Russia. The former human right’s commissioner has also accused the government of trying to marginalize the human rights agenda and bring it under the interior ministry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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