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Police anti-corruption unit uncovers fuel fraud scheme

A new Czech police unit called "Kobra", designed to investigate financial and tax criminality, has announced the uncovering of a fuel tax deception scheme. According to David Chovanec, a representative of the Czech police's customs directorate, who announced the operation on Friday, CZK 650 million of damages were prevented and 700,000 liters of petrol seized. Although specific details of the case have not been made public, police allege that the chief suspect began importing large quantities of fuel from Germany with a view to committing VAT fraud.

Annual report warns of growing toll of drug dependency

A newly published annual report commissioned by Prague City Hall has warned of the growing costs of drug dependency in the city's capital. According to the report, next year, 16,000 Prague citizens will be addicted to narcotics, many of whom will be unemployed, homeless and in poor health. Experts writing the annual report also expressed concerns over ongoing resistance by local districts to create local drug treatment centres for addicts.

17,000 attend Prague Pride march

A march by attendees of Prague Pride, the summer festival celebrating LGBT culture, has been attended by an estimated 17,000 people. The event kicked-off at Wenceslas Square and proceeded to Letenské Sady park on the other side of the Vltava river. Prague Pride is held under the auspices of the Mayor of Prague Tomáš Hudeček and Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier. Additionally, it enjoys support from the US Embassy and countless corporate and cultural partner groups. Reports had emerged of ultra-conservative and nationalist groups calling for concurrent counter-demonstrations to fight so-called "homosexualism". According to Novinky, only one incident caused concern - a small group of protesters deliberately blocked the path of the march near Nemocnice na Františku hospital on Saturday afternoon and were subsequently removed by the police.

German news wire: Czech radicals among pro-Russia separatists

Far-right nationalists from countries such as Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have joined pro-Russian rebels in fighting Ukrainian authorities in the far east of the country, reports the German Press Agency (DPA). According the to wire service's report, far-right radicals have volunteered to assist the separatist movement. It cites an example of a Brno-based man - Iva Stejskal - who decided to fight for the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic in order to prevent a "genocide" perpetrated against the Russian population. The Czech intelligence service, BIS, has said it has no information on the claims, writes ČTK.

President Zeman threatens veto of civil service reform compromise

President Miloš Zeman may decide to veto the current compromise version of civil service reform if it reaches his desk, according to Castle spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček. In an effort to win broad parliamentary support, including the backing of the opposition ODS and Top 09 parties, the coalition agreed last week to alter certain provisions of the draft law, designed to remove political influence in the state bureaucracy. Critics have said that the compromise, which removes a controversial independent civil service directorate chief, weakens the reform package. However, in comments reported by ČTK Saturday, the president stated that he believes that MPs will "see reason" and further amend the proposals.

Young Christians stage rival march in Prague

Members of the Young Christian Democrats, allied to the Christian Democrat party, staged a small march in Prague to promote what they described as "traditional families" and associated values. Several dozen marchers assembled at noon at Washingtonova Street, marching to Skořepka Street in the centre of Prague. The marchers were addressed, among others, by Christian Democrat head Pavel Bělobrádek.

Health minister wants e-cig exemption to blanket public smoking ban

Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček is currently preparing draft legislation that would impose a blanket ban on smoking in public places, reports Novinky.cz. The legislation, to be readied by December at the latest, would come into effect as of 2016 if approved by parliament. One notable exception is that as presently conceived, an exception would be made for use of electronic cigarettes in places such as pubs and restaurants.