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Site: Purchase of property at low-seeming price could harm Mynář’s chances of getting security clearance

The chances of the president’s chancellor Vratislav Mynář receiving security clearance could be harmed by his purchase of a villa in Prague for a low-seeming price, iDnes.cz reported. The news website said if it was proved that the price of CZK 5.5 million paid for the protected property was excessively low the State Security Office would evidently not provide Mr. Mynář with the clearance. He bought the villa – which a decade ago was sold for over CZK 8 million – from a lawyer for Roman Janoušek, an influential businessman currently in prison for hit and run. Mr. Mynář, who says the villa is in a poor state, has been President Miloš Zeman’s chancellor for almost two years without top secret security clearance, meaning he cannot accompany the president at some international meetings.

Mynář should explain suspicious villa purchase in coming days, says president’s spokesman

The president’s spokesman says it is up to the president’s chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, to explain the circumstances surrounding the low-seeming price he paid for a Prague villa. Spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told reporters on Tuesday that he believed President Miloš Zeman’s chancellor would do so in the coming days. Mr. Ovčáček said the head of state had no plans at present to dismiss Mr. Mynář over the CZK 5.5 million purchase of a protected property that sold for over CZK 8 million a decade ago.

Ombudswoman’s Office receives slightly fewer complaints last year

The Ombudswoman’s Office received 8,200 complaints last year, a spokesperson said on Tuesday. The figure was 150 down on 2013. The most frequent correspondence concerned social welfare payments, followed by problems linked to the construction industry and complaints over the army, police and prison services. The Ombudswoman’s Office can only deal with state authorities and is unable to address about 60 percent of the complaints received every year.

Interior Ministry hand-picking official who will overhaul state administration system

The Interior Ministry is assessing the applications of twenty-one contestants for the post of deputy interior minister responsible for the civil service sector. This “chief-bureaucrat”, as he has been dubbed by the press, would be responsible for the planned overhaul of the country’s state administration system as outlined in the civil service law approved late last year. The ministry has stressed the importance of selecting a highly-qualified and reliable person for the job and decided to scrap the first round of the open competition because none of the applicants appeared suitable. The name of the new deputy for civil service is to be known next week.

Czech Muslim community considering criminal complaint against Dawn party leader over hate speech

The Czech Muslim community is considering making a criminal complaint against the leader of the Dawn party Senator Tomio Okamura for hate speech. On his Facebook page the senator recently endorsed a contribution by the party’s deputy Jiří Kobza who encouraged Czechs to insult Muslims, suggesting they walk pigs in the vicinity of mosques and boycott Muslim-owned businesses in order to protect their democratic way of life. The head of the Czech Muslim community Muneeb Hassan Alrawi told Czech Radio that this is not the first time the party leader has presented anti-Muslim views and that community leaders are debating the best possible course of action.

Okamura says he would not now publish anti-Muslim text

Senator Tomio Okamura says he would not now publish a call on Czechs to walk their pigs in the vicinity of mosques on a social network. The Japanese-born leader of the populist Dawn party sparked anger at the weekend by posting a text on his Facebook page saying among other things that Czechs should protect their heritage from Islam and boycott Muslim businesses. Speaking on Tuesday he said the post had made light unnecessarily of the issue of radical Islam. Dawn, which has 14 seats in the Czech lower house, says that Mr. Okamura did not write the text himself.

Plzeň preparing to launch year as European Capital of Culture next week

After five years of preparation, the West Bohemian city of Plzeň is planning to launch its year as European Capital of Culture 2015 on Saturday 17 January. Organisers said on Tuesday that the year would kick off with a three-day celebration attended by tens of thousands of people. Transport will be halted in the centre of Plzeň for events including a large video-mapping project and a tightrope walker.

Former hockey and soccer international Vlastimil Bubník dies at 83

Former Czechoslovak ice hockey and soccer international Vlastimil Bubník has died at the age of 83. Bubník was part of the ice hockey team that took bronze at the 1964 Winter Olympics and earned three World Championship medals. He played for Brno ice hockey club as well as the football club RH Brno. Between 1957 and 1960 he made 11 appearances for Czechoslovakia’s soccer team, including at the European Nations’ Cup, scoring four goals.

Czechs beat Italy for second victory at Hopman Cup

The Czech Republic beat Italy on Tuesday for their second victory at tennis’s Hopman Cup mixed team event in Perth, Australia. Lucie Šafářová overcame Flavia Pennetta while Adam Pavlásek, who is 20, notched up a surprise victory over Fabio Fognini before the Czech pair secured victory in the doubles. They will now face a USA team comprising Serena Williams and John Isner on Thursday for a place in the final.