Former deputy prime minister Karolina Peake was questioned by the corruption police on Thursday in connection with the spying scandal that brought down the centre-right government of prime minister Petr Nečas. Mrs. Peake, said the questioning had largely focussed on her brief time in office as defence minister and reiterated that she had no knowledge of the fact that the then PM’s chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová had ordered the military intelligence service to shadow his wife. She confirmed Mrs. Nagyová’s seemingly unlimited influence at the time, by telling journalists that she herself had been sacked as defence minister after just eight days in office because she had failed to consult her decisions with the prime minister’s chief-of-staff.
In related news President Miloš Zeman assured the EC chief that the Czech Republic fully realized the importance of adopting a public service act as soon as possible. Mr Barroso stressed that without the legislation, the country could have problems drawing EU funds during the next budgetary period. The Czech Parliament adopted a public service act ahead of the country’s accession to the EU in 2004, but it never entered into force and there has been drawn-out controversy over its proposed amendment.
A 32-year-old woman from Bavaria is reported to have died after smuggling a large number of crystal methamphetamine capsules in her body. The woman bought the drug in the Czech Republic and swallowed the entire amount before heading home, where she was taken ill with severe stomach pains. Doctors were unable to save her life.
The vast majority of parties who have a realistic chance of winning seats in the lower house in October’s general elections are not against the completion of the Temelín nuclear plant assuming that it is safe and affordable. Only the Greens and Senator Tomio Okamura’s Dawn of Direct Democracy party are against the plan to build two more nuclear reactors at Temelín, citing safety reasons and pointing out that the cost of building Temelín’s first two reactors was double the amount originally projected. A final decision on the plant’s completion is expected in late 2014 or early 2015.
A state attorney has filed criminal charges against the head of the Energy Regulatory Office, Alena Vitásková, and nine other people, on suspicion of fraud in obtaining licenses for two solar power plants in north Bohemia in 2010 in view of upping the purchase price for solar power. The damage to the state is estimated at 1.9 billion crowns. The case is to be dealt with by the Brno regional court. Ms. Vitásková had previously accused her predecessors of having illegally upped the prices of electricity from solar power, producing an audit that the head of the Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association said was doctored and was intended to cover up her own illegal activities.
The European Commission has approved a major dust control project for two steelworks in northern Moravia, a spokeswoman for the commission said. Two projects worth some 1.2 billion crowns should lower the volume of dust emitted by Třinecké železárny and the Ostrava plant of ArcelorMittal by around 230 tonnes each year, significantly reducing air pollution in the area. Třinecké železárny is planning to start work on dust reduction immediately. A spokeswoman for ArcelorMittal said dust filters should be installed in 2016.
Czech Finance Minister Jan Fischer has proposed a draft state budget for 2014 with the deficit of 112 billion crowns. Mr Fischer told a news conference on Wednesday he had originally planned a deficit of 110 billion crowns but that he now expected an extra 4 or 5 billion in tax revenues. The minister said the target of 3 percent of GDP would not be exceeded. The government will discuss details of the draft budget with employers and trade unions on Friday, and is set to vote on the proposal next week.
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.
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.
The EU’s new tobacco laws could put hundreds of Czech jobs at risk, President Miloš Zeman told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday, the first day of his visit to EU headquarters. After a meeting with the speaker of the European Parliament, the Czech president expressed hope that during debates on the new rules, MEPs would take into consideration the interest of 1,500 employees of cigarette producer Philip Morris’s Czech plant. The planned EU directive on tobacco products includes a ban on some types of cigarettes such as slims and menthols, and would force producers to place bigger pictorial health warnings on packets.
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery
Valentine’s Day 1945 - When the Americans bombed Prague
Film about tragic fate of great Czech actress highlights communist atrocities in the 1950s