The former Minister of Transport, Vladimir Kremlík, who lost his post two
weeks ago after a hackathon organised by IT specialists showed a government
tender for a new motorway electronic vignette system was overpriced, has
told news site Seznam Zprávy that he was offered a CZK 1.5 million bribe
to let CGI, the company that won the tender, keep the project.
Mr Kremlík says he informed the Czech counterintelligence service (BIS) about the offer and that he met with its director. According to an unnamed security services source quoted by Seznam, BIS then contacted Prime Minister Andrej Babiš about the situation. However, Mr Babiš denies this and BIS has refused to comment.
Just 3.4 percent of people working in the Czech Republic rank below the
poverty threshold, the latest Eurostat data for 2018 show. Only Finland
scored better in the statistic and it is the lowest income poverty rate in
Czechia in the past 10 years. On average, every tenth EU citizen’s income
lies below the poverty threshold.
The result is thanks to the wage-to-price difference, sociologist Daniel
Prokop told Czech Radio. In Luxemburg, for example, the median rate is
twice as high as in the Czech Republic and those on low income jobs are
therefore more likely to fall into poverty than in Czechia.
Romania placed last according to the statistic, with every sixth worker threatened by poverty.
The Czech government budget found itself in a deficit of CZK 8.8 billion in
January, data released by the Ministry of Finance shows. It is the first
time that the country has had a January budget deficit since 2003, the
Czech News Agency reports.
According to the Finance Ministry, increased funding for the State Transport infrastructure Fund, higher pensions, teacher salaries and EU budget contributions are among the reasons behind the red numbers. Chief economist at investment firm Czech Fund Lukáš Kovanda told Czech Television that the slowdown in the Czech economy, unforeseen by the government, plays a role as well.
The tender on an online system of motorway vignette sales, cancelled by
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš after IT specialists organised a hackathon
where they designed a similar system free of charge, included a
sophisticated surveillance system, online news site Seznam Zprávy reported
on Monday. Seznam claims that the public data gathering system was agreed
to by the Ministry of Transport in cooperation with the Czech secret
services and police.
Former Transport Ministrer Vladimír Kremlík, who was sacked because of the overpriced tender, told Seznam that the system was supposed to be capable of photographing license plates and “logically, more than that”. He also admitted that a part of the proposed system was kept under secrecy.
The head of the Czech counterintelligence service refused to comment on the story, but last week the organisation’s spokesman Ladislav Šticha said that intelligence services’ access to data on vehicles and their owners was expected from the beginning and is supported by legislation. However, only in so far as accessing the license plates and vignettes registers.
The Czech police have finished their investigation of three men who are
suspected of inciting hatred following last year’s Christchurch mosque
shootings in New Zealand and it looks like the trio are headed for a court
State Prosecutor Martin Bílý told Czech Television on Monday that he has
received the police investigation file, which proposes charges be pressed.
The three individuals, who are accused of supporting the attack on social
media and in other circles, could face a jail sentence of between 5 to 15
years if found guilty.
Visitors of two mosques in the New Zealand capital of Christchurch were attacked by a gunman last march. The mass shooting claimed 51 lives in total and was described as “one of New Zealand's darkest days” by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Senate Speaker Jaroslav Kubera, who died unexpectedly of heart failure at
the age of 72 two weeks ago, is being remembered through an official state
mourning this Monday. Hundreds of people including leading state
representatives such as the prime minister have paid their last respects at
the Senate speaker’s coffin, which is being displayed in the theatre of
his hometown of Teplice. At noon, sirens across the country rang out in his
memory. In Prague a special memorial service will be held in the Rudolfinum
building on Monday afternoon.
Jaroslav Kubera was the mayor of the West Bohemian town of Teplice for over twenty years. In 2000 he became a senator and was elected speaker of the upper-house in 2018. Shortly after his death, President Miloš Zeman announced that Kubera will be awarded the Order of the White Lion in memoriam.
Temperatures are set to fall from 9 to around 5 degrees Celsius in the Czech Republic on Tuesday. Aside from rainfall across much of the country and snowing in the mountainous regions, strong winds as fast as 65 kilometres per hour may occur in parts of Southern Bohemia and Moravia. Furthermore, heavy rain may cause floods in the Sušice area around Plzeň.
The Czech Republic will contribute CZK 10 million to help tackle the
coronavirus epidemic currently afflicting China, Foreign Minister Tomáš
Petříček (Social Democrats) announced on Monday. The aid is to be
distributed through international organizations in consultation with the
World Health Organization.
A financial contribution was proposed by Mr Petříček during the weekend after Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that the Czech Republic is unable to send medical equipment such as facemasks, because they are needed in case of an emergency.
The Czech ministries of foreign affairs and health are also in discussions regarding the possible lease of ambulances, which are needed in China to transport infected patients into quarantine zones. Furthermore, government departments are negotiating the possible involvement of Czech experts, such as epidemiologists.
Karolina Plíšková is no longer the second best tennis player in the
world according to WTA Tour rankings. Following her early exit in the third
round of the Australian Open, she fell to third place behind Ashleigh Barty
and Simona Halep. Meanwhile, Petra Kvitová, who lost to Ms Barty in the
quarterfinals of the tournament, has dropped to eleventh place. In the
doubles category, Barbora Strýcová fell from first to second place behind
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei, with whom she won the Wimbledon Grand Slam last
The highest ranking Czech in the men’s singles category is Jiří Veselý, who is outside the top 100.
To prevent the spread of the coronavirus epidemic the Czech government has
approved the cancellation of direct flights to and from China for an
indefinite period. The new measure will come into effect on Sunday,
February 9, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told Czech Television.
The start date is adjusted so that around 100 Czech citizens, who are in China and want to return home, have the opportunity, Mr Babiš said. If some Czechs do remain stranded in China, the state is ready to send a government plane.
Prague Airport currently runs 12 direct flights a week with China, which transported 188,000 passengers in 2019.
Czech researchers develop top-grade respirator for 3D printing
Why Chinese masks destined for Italy were seized (not ‘stolen’) by Czech authorities
A mask-tree as a form of solidarity
Economist Tomáš Sedláček: A positive look at the coronavirus crisis
Government to extend restrictions on movement until April 1st