Anti-corruption police have charged five officials from the country’s Export Bank in connection with a dubious loan for a business project in China which reportedly caused damage to the tune of 221 million crowns. The officials in question have been charged with breach of trust and insider trading for which they could be sentenced from two to eight years in prison.
Politicians across the board have denounced last week’s statement by Dawn party leader Tomio Okamura that the hundreds of Romanies who died in the Lety concentration camp were not Holocaust victims as shameful and populist. Mr. Okamura said in an interview for Parlamentnilisty.cz that the term concentration camp was highly misleading since Lety was a camp for people who avoided work and the Romanies who died in it died of old age or illnesses they developed as a result of their migratory lifestyle. The minister for human rights, Jiri Dienstbier, said Mr. Okamura should apologize and retire from politics, while TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek described his words as “disgraceful, bordering on the criminal”. Mr. Okamura’s statement has evoked outrage across the political spectrum, and has also elicited criticism from the head of state. It is being linked to the autumn Senate and local elections with Mr. Okamura attempting to attract votes at any cost.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is pushing for the speedy development of Russian engines for the country’s light aircraft which are currently supplied by the Czech Republic. Russia is already developing such an engine and according to the country’s industry and trade minister, Denis Manturov, it should be ready for production by 2016. Engines for Russia’s light aircraft are currently supplied by the Czech firm Prvni brnenska strojirna which last year raised its sales by 100 million crowns to a record 1.2 billion thanks to commissions from Russia.
The police have charged a 34-year-old woman with the kidnapping a three-month-old baby from Prague’s Motol Hospital last week. At the recommendation of medical experts she has been taken to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. The woman stole the baby from its pram at Motol’s outpatient department last week, but a nurse raised the alarm and the police caught up with her within minutes.
The Czech authorities are boosting their surveillance and control measures in connection with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Airport terminals are prepared to deal with such emergencies and Prague’s Bulovka hospital has a team of epidemiological experts on stand-by. There will moreover be information leaflets at airports and railway terminals describing the main symptoms of the disease and information help lines for the public. Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek is to inform the cabinet in detail on Tuesday of the potential risks for the Czech Republic and the preventative measures being taken. The highly contagious disease has killed more than 700 people in West Africa since February.
The Czech Republic has the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the EU, after the Netherlands, Germany and Austria, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office on Monday. In 2013 the Czech Republic had an average 7 percent unemployment rate, compared with the EU average of 11 percent. On the other hand, the country has one of the lowest number of employed working in part time jobs – 5.8 percent as compared to 50 percent in the Netherlands, and ranks sixth as regards the number of employed men over 55 years of age -62.6 percent. As regards the number of employed women over 55 – 41.4 percent -the Czech Republic is below the EU average now at 43.3 percent.
The Association of Deaf People and People with Hearing Disabilities has warned the public about a group of fraudsters who are collecting money for charity in the organization’s name. The gang is allegedly active in several parts of Prague, including Anděl and Naměstí Míru, and has reportedly duped hundreds of people. The association has filed a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator. The police have asked people who should come into contact with these fraudsters or be approached by them to call 158 and inform the police of their whereabouts.
The Supreme Audit Office has uncovered irregularities in the financing of the Transport Ministry. According to the results of an audit published on Monday, the ministry squandered close to 88 million crowns on dubious and unnecessary projects. The report states as a case in point two contracts for outsourcing services for “advice on cosmic activities” for which the ministry paid close to six million crowns. The Waterways Management Directorate overstepped the mark in all areas audited and an excessive amount of money was reportedly squandered on PR goods.
A strong earthquake was felt in the Cheb district in Western Bohemia at around 2AM on Monday. Three tremors were recorded by a seismograph in Nový Kostel, the strongest of which was 4.2 on the Richter scale, iDnes.cz reported. The epicentre was across the border in Germany. Earthquakes are felt relatively often in Cheb but few have a magnitude of over 4.0.
An estimated 200 people protested against the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Prague on Sunday evening. The demonstrators, many of whom were Russians and Ukrainians resident in the city, gathered outside the Russian-owned Sberbank on the central Na Příkopě Street and carried signs such as Putin: Mass Murderer and Protect Democracy. They called on the Czech government to take a tougher approach to Russia.