The British Embassy and Prague City Hall are discussing possible sites for a new monument commemorating Czechoslovak pilots who served in Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II, the British Ambassador to Prague Jan Thompson has said. The statue, a winged lion to be cast in bronze, was funded by the British community and will be unveiled in a special ceremony on June 17. Eighty-eight Czechoslovak airmen fought in the Battle of Britain; over the course of the war, a total of 2,500 Czechoslovaks served in the RAF.
Dutch retail chain Ahold is seeking to leapfrog its rivals with the purchase of Spar’s Czech outlets. Ahold has agreed to pay over 5 billion crowns for the 36 Czech hypermarkets and 14 supermarkets operated by the Austrian firm. The extra annual sales of around 15 billion crowns would catapult Ahold from third to first place as the Czech Republic’s biggest retailer. Ahold currently trails Kaufland and Tesco. The deal has still to be approved by the Czech competition office.
The Czech Republic has signed a tax exchange agreement with the Bahamas, the Ministry of Finance announced on Tuesday. The agreement had already been hammered out by the start of 2012 but has waited until now to be signed. The information exchange with the Caribbean tax haven will take effect when it is ratified by parliament and signed by the Czech head of state. Prague has already sealed 13 such tax exchange agreements with other states. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš described such agreements as an effective tool for uncovering tax evasion by Czechs. One of Bahamas most notorious Czech residents is the so-called pirate of Prague, Viktor Kožený.
Police are investigating damage to paintings stored at the castle in Valtice near Břeclav, the site of symposia since the mid-1990s until 2005. Some 50 works by contemporary Czech artists were apparently vandalised, either slashed or knocked out of their frames. The crime was only just discovered. Police also believe that some original works may also be missing. Works stored at the castle included a painting by tattooed composer and former presidential candidate Vladimír Franz.
The Czech average wage decreased by 484 crowns (or 1.8 percent) in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 26,637 crowns the Czech Statistics Office revealed Tuesday; adjusted for inflation, real wages fell by 2.9 percent. Inflation reached 1.1 percent over the same period. The full-year average wage was 25,128 crowns per month. According to the bureau, the income of two-thirds of Czech employees earn lower than the average wage: 80 percent of employees earn between around 10,500 crowns to some 43,000 crowns per month.
Republican senator and former US presidential candidate John McCain told Fox News on Monday that a missile defense system scrapped by the Obama administration should be brought back in response to Russia's invasion of Crimea. The senator joined other Republicans, including former vice president Dick Cheney, in criticising the American president, saying for example that Mr Obama had completely "misread" Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Missile defense was a project strongly pursued by the administration of George W. Bush. Originally, a rocket system was planned in Poland and an early warning radar in the Czech Republic. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek responded to the comments by saying such a system would not have changed anything in the current crisis.
The police detained four men suspected of having illegally distributed marijuana in parts of the Czech Republic and Poland since 2011. Three were charged with illegal production; two were remanded in custody. During the police raid, officers seized 31 kilos of the drug with a street value of around two million crowns. The head of the apparent gang is a Polish national who has lived in the Czech Republic for several years. If found guilty, the suspects could spend up to 12 years in prison.
The Environment Ministry is investigating 21 suspicious contracts worth 173.3 hundred million crowns. The ministry is also examining current tenders and computer equipment orders, Environment Minister Richard Brabec told reporters on Monday. Changes are also planned to make more effective the drawing of the funds. The minister made clear he was cleaning house 39 days after taking up the post, saying he didn’t want to wait until a significant date to implement changes. Since taking up the job, he replaced all five deputies as well as several section directors.
Only 34 percent of Czechs today ‘trust’ the European Union, according to a new poll released by the STEM agency. The numbers are the lowest in 20 years; the survey was first launched in 1994. Trust in the European Parliament, the poll suggests, is 30 percent – five percent less than last September. Another recent poll, suggested that Czechs considered elections to the EP the least significant in the election calendar. Trust in the EU long remained at around 50 or 60 percent, with the last high point being registered in 2009, when the Czech Republic held the EU presidency.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, has suggested that the political part of an EU Association Agreement could be signed with Ukraine by March 17 or at a meeting of EU foreign ministers beginning on March 20. Mr Zaorálek spoke to the Czech News Agency on Monday. The European Commission has not confirmed any exact dates; the spokeswoman for the EC said only that the signing of the agreement was a priority and that that would happen before May 25, when Ukraine will be holding presidential elections. It was a decision to halt preparations for the agreement by the former government in Kiev which started months of unrest which led to the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovcyh.