The General Director of Czech Television Petr Dvořák has terminated the work of a special panel which was meant to determine if there news coverage was influenced by editors for political purposes. Mr. Dvořák, who was supposed to inform the board of the public broadcaster about the findings of the panel, said that he was disbanding it because two of the five members of the panel resigned. He also said that he has determined that Czech Television’s reporting broke no laws or the broadcaster’s ethics code and that the head of news department has his full support and confidence. In early October a 23 member of the news staff at Czech TV signed a petition saying that on a dozen occasions a senior editor had interfered with their work, to the benefit of certain politicians, in particular President Miloš Zeman.
The parliamentary budget committee has voted down a proposal by its deputy chairman Jan Volný (ANO) to lower the budget for the Office of the President by about one million crowns. MP Volný wanted to re-allocate the money to the Justice Ministry, since it recently took over the agenda of state pardons from the President and will require more staff. Only half of the members of the budget committee voted for the proposal. Prague Castle was criticized for spending three times as much on entertainment this year than was originally planned. The president’s chancellor Vladimír Mynář said that expenditure of around 1.5 million for hosting visitors in 2013 is due to the fact that Miloš Zeman has held more official events at Prague Castle than his predecessor, since taking office in March.
Jiří Rusnok’s cabinet has approved a set of seven measures drawn up to help avoid future conflicts in and around socially excluded areas in the Czech Republic. The measures include changes in housing benefits, and an increased number of social workers and social services offered in high-risk localities and ghettos. The measures were supposed to include changes in social housing, but Regional Development Ministry failed to come up with the documentation. The new measures are meant as a response to the growing number of ghettos, populated mostly by Romanies, and an increasing number of violent protests by extremists and local citizens against the Roma minority.
The chief of the general staff of the Czech Army, General Petr Pavel, was at an airport base in Kabul on Wednesday when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of international troops leaving the base. No casualties were reported among the soldiers in the convey, who belong to NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). No Czech soldiers were injured. General Pavel continued with his visit once the alert at the NATO base was lifted.
A family-owned newsagent’s shop in the west Bohemian Karlovy Vary has become the first store in the region to accept Bitcoins for payments. There are only around a dozen businesses in the Czech Republic outside of Prague that accept the electronic monetary unit, and few of them are shops. The Bitcoin was traded at around 19,000 crowns on Wednesday, though the exchange rate is very volatile.
Viktoria Plzeň have qualified for continental soccer’s second-tier competition the Europa League after beating CSKA Moscow in their final Champions League group game. Plzeň left it late to guarantee their place in European football in the New Year; after coming from behind they took the lead in the 90th minute through a Tomáš Wágner goal and held to on seal a 2:1 win that was enough to see them finish third in the group. It was a dream send-off for manager Pavel Vrba, who is about to become Czech national team boss.
The Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats are reported to be on the verge of producing a coalition deal. If they agree on a programme during talks on Tuesday night the document would then be discussed internally by the three parties. Agreement has been reached in most areas, though differences remain over issues surrounding taxation and the health system. The parties are expected to focus on the division of portfolios next week when the leader of the Christian Democrats returns from an overseas trip.
Members of the police’s organised crime unit have searched the offices of power giant CEZ for materials relating to solar power stations. The police would not give details of the target of the investigation, which saw raids on Tuesday at CEZ’s headquarters in Prague and a daughter company in Hradec Králové. While much remains unclear, Prague Supreme State Attorney Lenka Bradáčová confirmed that the matter was linked to solar power stations. In recent years CEZ has spent billions of crowns buying solar power stations from private companies, some of which are reported to have had unclear ownership structures.
Livia Klausová, the wife of former president Václav Klaus, has arrived at the Czech Embassy in Bratislava to take up the post of ambassador. Mrs. Klausová, who was born in Slovakia, will officially assume the position in mid-January, when she presents her credentials to the Slovak president, Ivan Gašparovič. She was put forward by the current Czech head of state, Miloš Zeman, leading to some speculation that the post was a reward for her and her family supporting Mr. Zeman’s presidential campaign.
The first non-conditional sentence for software piracy has been handed down by a Czech court. A man from Most received a 20-month jail term for illegally copying and selling software from the firms Microsoft and Adobe, the anti-piracy organisation BSA told the Czech News Agency on Tuesday. The software companies said the miscreant had caused them losses of half a million crowns.