Former prime minister and European labour commissioner Vladimír Špidla is to become chief advisor to the country’s likely next prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Mr. Spidla, who was considered to be a hot candidate for the post of labour minister in the emerging government, confirmed having accepted the offer on Friday. The post of labour minister in the new government will thus most likely go to Social Democrat Petr Krčál, a councilor in the Vysočina region. The list of ministerial nominees, which Bohuslav Sobotka submitted to the president on Friday evening, is to be made public on Monday after the three parties of the emerging centre-right coalition – the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats - sign a coalition agreement.
Prague may be part of a European-wide arms-smuggling network operated by Palestinians, former chief-of-staff General Jiri Sedivy said in an interview for the Czech internet site Aktualne.cz. As many as 70 automatic rifles were found at the Prague residence of the late Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic, according to unconfirmed reports carried by the CTK news agency. The general said he feared that the discovery in Prague could be the tip of the iceberg and suggested that Palestinian embassies in other European capitals could contain similar storages of illegal weapons.
Andrej Babiš, businessman magnate and leader of ANO, the second strongest party in the emerging centre-left government, is the most powerful person in the Czech media world, according to the list of the 50 most influential people in the Czech media published in the January issue of the Czech version of Forbes magazine. Babiš is followed by Petr Dvořák, director general of public service broadcaster Czech Television and multi-millionaires Daniel Kretinsky and Patrik Tkáč, who recently acquired the publisher Ringier Axel Springer, are in third and fourth place.
An arbitration court is to open the case of the Blanka tunnel complex on January10, Prague’s deputy mayor Jiri Nouza told the ctk news agency on Friday. The tunnel was to have been finished and opened to traffic this year but in December the construction firm Metrostav halted further work over unpaid fees. Meanwhile Prague City Hall said it could not transfer the money after having found that the contracts signed with Metrostav may be legally invalid. The arbitration court is to rule on the validity of the contracts.
The daughter of the late Palestinian ambassador to Prague claims her father was the victim of a terrorist attack. Rana al Jamal told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an that the safe which exploded and killed her father was an old model that did not contained any booby trap. She claims the explosive device must have been planted there several hours preceding the explosion. According to Rana the safe was used by other Palestinian officials while her father was on a working trip to Egypt and it had only been moved into the ambassador’s new residence the night before the explosion.
Aston Villa and Czech international striker Libor Kozák broke his leg in training on Thursday, and will miss the rest of the season. The 24-year-old player got injured in a clash with team mate Ciaran Clark, and is to undergo surgery on Friday, according to a statement released on the British club’s web site. Kozák joined Aston Villa last summer, and has scored four goals in 14 Premier League games.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann has rejected the notion that intensified police checks in the Czech-German border region were directed against Czech nationals. Minister Herman, who recently unveiled a new strategy in fighting cross-border crime said the effort to curb theft and drug-trafficking across the Czech-German border was legitimate and would benefit both countries. He noted that the Bavarian police stop and search more German vehicles than Czech ones and certainly do not pick on Czech drivers alone. Bavaria has expressed serious concern regarding the smuggling of the Czech home-made drug crystal methamphetamine across the border.
Labour offices are struggling to deliver welfare payments to people after the system which had been in operation since 2012 was unexpectedly shut down late last month. The software provider, the firm Fujistsu Technology Solutions, won a contract on running the system two years ago but the Czech anti-monopoly regulator last year cancelled the tender over breach of rules. Labour offices have now returned to a payment system used previously, but they are having to fill in a vast amount of missing data and many employees have not been schooled in how to use it. The Labour Ministry has warned that thousands of people could get their welfare contributions late.
Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday met briefly with President Milos Zeman to brief him on the proposed line-up of the emerging centre-left government. Mr. Sobotka refused to comment on the outcome of the meeting saying he had submitted a list of ministerial nominees to the head of state and that the three parties of the emerging government coalition would sign a coalition agreement on Monday as planned. He made no mention of whether or when he might be named prime minister. There has been speculation that the president is likely to find some nominees unacceptable and may want to get actively involved in the selection process or try to stall the process of appointing a new government. Under an agreement reached between the three potential coalition partners the Social Democrats will get seven seats in the new cabinet, the AN0 party six and the Christian Democrats three.
A total of 24 people died in accidents at rail crossings in the Czech Republic in 2013, which is the lowest figure in the past 11 years, Rail Safety Inspection spokesman Martin Drapal told the CTK news agency. Despite the improvement the death toll at rail crossings remains extremely high. In recent years Czech Railways has been working to modernize rail crossings many of which still lack mechanical barriers.
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