Czech police have arrested an influential Iranian born businessman on suspicion of massive tax evasion, the news server of paper Lidové Noviny reported on Friday. Shahram Abdullah Zadeh was arrested in the presidential suite of the Hilton Hotel, Prague, where he had a long term rental agreement. They found documents relating to massive business details and substantial amounts of ready cash, the web server said. According, to some Gulf newspaper reports Zadeh fled Dubai when his links in major oil deals with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were uncovered. Zadeh, who reportedly has Iranian and Czech citizenship after marrying a Czech woman, had been contesting the appropriation of a Dubai-based real estate company, in which his partner was a relative of Dubai’s emir, before his flight.
Czech captain and Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický is doubtful for Saturday’s premier league derby confrontation with Chelsea. Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger warned in a pre-match press conference that Rosický is injured and could be out for the game. Rosický last week scored the only goal in the Gunners 1:0 victory over north London rival Tottenham. Chelsea’s Petr Čech is expected to be in goal for |Chelsea.
The population of the Czech Republic fell in 2013 for the first time in 10 years. The Czech Statistics Office Friday said the population slipped to just over 10.512 million by the end of the year. The biggest factors in the fall of around 3,700 in the total population were more deaths than births and more people quitting the country than coming in. It is the first time since 2001 that more people have left the Czech Republic than arrived. There were also fewer weddings and abortions last year but more divorces.
The Czech Basketball Federation has offered Ukraine help in staging the men’s European championships in 2015, which are threatened by the current instability in the country. The Czech federation has dispatched a letter offering to host one of the opening group games if need be. Federation chairman Miroslav Jansta said on Friday that he was still convinced that Ukraine could overcome its problems and host the event. Europe’s basketball federation, FIBA, will decide over the weekend whether to confirm Ukraine as hosts for next year’s championships.
The Ministry of Finance’s special financial analytical team has prepared criminal charges against the two top figures in state controlled electricity producer ČEZ. Cases have been prepared against general manager Daniel Beneš and his deputy, Martin Novák, the ministry confirmed. The cases relate to the buyout of minority shareholders in the North Moravian regional electricity distribution company. The suspicion is that around 350 million crowns of ČEZ funds was misused in the out of court settlement with the small shareholders, some of whom were represented by the company Associated Energy. ČEZ says the settlement was approved by the board and the deal probably saved it around 700 million crowns.
In football, Viktoria Plzeň’s Europa League adventure has ended in spite of a 2:1 home win against Olympic Lyon on Thursday night. On aggregate, the Czech team lost 3:5 and failed again to get through for the first time to the last eight of the competition. Plzeň conceded a goal in the last seconds of the first half but came out fighting in the second with two goals scored and missed penalty by Stanislav Tecl.
The Czech Foreign Ministry will send a monitoring team to western Ukraine to assess the situation of close to a hundred expatriates who have requested to be repatriated to their old homeland. The Czech cabinet this week agreed to comply with their request saying the authorities would proceed as fast as possible in arranging residence permits. The team, led by Karel Kühnl, the Czech Foreign Ministry’s special commissioner for Czechs living abroad, is to map the expats’ living circumstances, the security situation and their immediate needs which would enable the authorities to provide targeted assistance and give them a better idea of how many Czech expats might request to be repatriated. There are currently around 20,000 Czechs living in Ukraine.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says the EU is unlikely to go beyond the framework of targeted sanctions against Russian officials in response to the country’s aggression in Ukraine. Arriving at a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, Mr. Sobotka said he did not expect the alliance to reach agreement on a higher level of sanctions, be it economic sanctions or an arms embargo which some EU members have been pushing for. The Czech prime minister said he himself did not consider the time to be ripe for an arms embargo. The strength of the EU’s response to developments in Ukraine have divided the alliance with some urging strong measures while others advocating a more prudent policy.
An association agreement with the EU is the only way for Ukraine to become an equal partner for Russia, Czech President Miloš Zeman said in an interview for the news site aktualne.cz. The president said Russia had cold-bloodedly abused the weakness of Ukraine and the Ukrainian government and mainly the unfortunate language law which had predictably fueled protests. It is now our duty to help strengthen Ukraine and I firmly believe that an association agreement with the EU is the best way to do that, Mr. Zeman said. The Czech president also expressed the view that the Ukrainian government should get rid of "fascist extremists" and federalize the country.
The pro-Russian civic group leader Viktor Medvedchuk has said that by opening its doors to present-day Ukraine the EU is opening the way for the spread of neo-fascist tendencies in Europe. Mr. Medvedchuk, who heads the civic movement Ukraine’s Choice said the Czech EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule, who has led talks with Kiev on an association agreement with the EU, should be aware of his personal responsibility in this matter. The attack comes just hours before the Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is due to sign the political chapter of Ukraine’s association agreement with the EU.