Influential businessman Ivo Rittig is being questioned by the police on suspicion of involvement in large-scale corruption, manipulation of public tenders and money-laundering. Rittig, who resides in Monaco, is believed to be one of the Prague “godfathers” who controlled the Prague branch of the Civic Democrats when the party ruled Prague City Hall. No charges have as yet been brought against him. Two other powerful lobbyists implicated in the case are Roman Janoušek and Tomáš Hrdlička.
A Czech NGO is planning to launch a campaign entitled Live Longer at Home to inform retired people and their relatives of services available to seniors living at home. Organizers said a vast majority of retired people wanted to continue living in their homes rather than move to seniors’ homes; however, they are little aware of the care options available. Information on these services will be advertised at the campaign’s website while leaflets and brochures will be distributed at labour offices and town halls. The head of the Czech Labour Office said thousands of unemployed people could find work in assisting seniors. The campaign will be officially launched on October 1.
A cyclist covered a ten-kilometre-long distance in Prague faster than a car and a tram in a test race designed to find the quickest way of moving around the capital, the news website idnes.cz reported. The race, organized by the NGO Auto*Mat, took place between Prague’s Modřany district and the National Theatre in the centre of the city on Wednesday morning. The cyclist arrived first in just over 20 minutes, followed by the car which arrived five minutes later. The tram traveller came in last, some 13 minutes behind the winner.
Viktoria Plzeň lost 3:0 to England’s Manchester City on Tuesday night in their opening group game in the Champions League, the most prestigious competition in club football. The West Bohemian side held out for the first half but conceded three goals in quick succession shortly after the break from Dzeko, Toure and Aguero. Plzeň’s next game in the competition is on October 2 away to CSKA Moscow, who were beaten 3:0 by Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
The manager of Czech Republic’s under-19 football team, Miroslav Koubek, has been appointed the new manager of the top division club Slavia Prague, the club’s spokeswoman said. The 62-year-old coach replaces Michal Petrouš who resigned following a string of disappointing results. Mr Koubek, who will remain the manager of the under-19 national team, has coached top division clubs Kladno, Plzeň, Ostrava and Mladá Boleslav.
The Czech Republic have been pitted against the Netherlands for the opening round of the 2014 Davis Cup. The games will be played out in the Czech Republic between January 31 and February 2. The Czechs, who are the reining Davis Cup champions, were the top seeds in the draw, for the first time in history. This season, the Czech team has again reached the finals after they beat Argentina in Prague last weekend. In the finals, the Czechs will face Serbia in Belgrade in November.
The Czech Republic’s biggest power company CEZ says it will cut electricity prices for its most commonly used tariff by 15 percent from the start of next year. Customers who sign long-term contracts can receive a reduction of 20 percent. Tuesday’s announcement follows reports that other large power suppliers are also planning to lower their prices. The head of CEZ, Daniel Beneš, told reporters that households that use electricity for heating would save around CZK 5,000 a year.
An estimated 3,000 coal miners held a demonstration in the eastern city of Ostrava on Tuesday against job cuts, plans to cut their salaries and the mooted closure of the city’s Paskov mine. A small number of protesters broke into a building that formerly housed the OKD mining company after the main demonstration ended. The firm says poor financial results and the state of the coal market are forcing it to make marked savings and hundreds of layoffs. Talks between OKD and union leaders have failed to reach agreement on a way forward.
The police are investigating the financing of the controversial Blanka tunnel project in Prague, the Czech News Agency reported on Tuesday. Detectives from the force’s organised crime unit suspect breach of competition rules and breach of trust in connection with the enormous construction project, which to date has cost the city CZK 27 billion. The investigation is centred on a City Hall decree from last year approving a mechanism aimed at settling large debts owed to construction firms. The tunnel, which some environmentalists have criticised, is due to open next year.
The Dalai Lama says he does not mind the fact that the current and most recent Czech presidents, Miloš Zeman and Václav Klaus, have refused to meet him. Speaking on the last day of the Forum 2000 conference in Prague, the Tibetan spiritual leader said that as he did not have an agenda linked to the Czech government, meetings with such important leaders were not so important. Some Czech politicians have in the past expressed the opinion that supporting the Dalai Lama, who was a good friend of the late president Václav Havel, could damage the country’s economic ties with China.