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Czech counter intelligence to be given wider access to information

Access to information about suspect bank accounts and phone numbers will be possible for the Czech domestic security service, BIS, under a proposal approved by the government, the news agency ČTK reported on Monday. Until now, only the tax inspectorate could seek information about private bank accounts. The proposal, aimed at culling information about terrorist networks and organized crime, forms part of a raft of measures aimed at bolstering the capacity of the domestic counter intelligence service, the Security Information Service, in the face of the perceived increase risk of terror attacks.

Face recognition system approved for Prague airport

Face recognition system approved for Prague airport Prague’s Václav Havel airport will be equipped with face recognition security systems for recognizing passengers, the government decided on Monday. The new system, costing around 150 million crowns, should be operational by the end of 2016. Regional airports handling international flights such as Karlovy Vary, Ostrava, Pardubice, and Brno, will later be equipped with similar systems. Face recognition systems are already used at airports in Britain and Germany and by some police forces worldwide to deal with terrorism and international crime.

New nuclear plants seen constructed by ČEZ or consortium

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has released a proposed programme for the future development of nuclear power which favours either state-controlled power company ČEZ or a consortium of companies building new nuclear plants. A third option, under which a new state company would be created and tasked with construction and operation, is described as very much a last choice. The development programme, which must be approved by the government, counts on at least two new nuclear reactors being constructed at the existing Temelín and Dukovany sites with a possible extra plant at either location.

Police claim success against international drugs rings

Czech police have announced two separate international successes in the fight against drugs. In the first case they say they have intercepted a mainly Bulgarian ring which imported the drugs needed to produce methamphetamine (or pervitin). The drugs were sourced from ordinary on sale drugs in Turkey and shipped either directly to the Czech Republic or through Poland. The drugs could be bought for half the price in Turkey compared with Poland. In a separate case, they pounced on a ring selling meth and marijuana, partly based on indoor cultivation of cannabis plants in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Czech foreign minister cautions over change in EU-Russia relations

Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said Monday that the situation in Ukraine has not evolved in such a way that should result in a change in the European Union’s relations with Russia. Zaorálek was speaking at the start of a meeting of an EU foreign ministers gathering in Brussels to chart the future strategy with Moscow. The EU council’s head of foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, said there was no question of altering the existing sanctions but rather evaluating what long term tools the EU has at its disposal.

Spending watchdog says pensions system unsustainable

The state’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, has raised the alarm about what it describes as the non-sustainable deficit being run up by Czech state pensions systems. It pointed out that the overall deficit ballooned by 12 percent between 2009 and 2013. A reserve created in 1995 to cover spending shortfalls which now stands at 22.6 billion crowns should be twice as high, it added. More and longer living pensioners as well as automatic increases in pensions are at the root of the shortfall in funds, the office says.

ANO leader Andrej Babiš says he could seek changes to coalition agreement

Finance minister and leader of the ANO party, Andrej Babiš, says he could seek a revamp of the one year old coalition government agreement. Babiš said he is annoyed by so-called ‘socialist’ measures such as the proposal from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to provide substitute alimony for children if the parents default and the proposal to increase tax on banks and banks if tax revenues come in below expectations. Government leaders are due to discuss changes to the agreement on Monday evening. Neither the Social Democrats of prime minister Bohulsav Sobotka or the Christian Democrats are said to be seeking changes.

Miner dies in Karviná while repairing mining shearer

A miner died at a mine in Karviná in the Moravia-Silesia Region on Sunday while repairing the hydraulic system on a mining shearer, a machine that cuts coal from the coal-face. The tragedy occurred at about 750 metres below the ground. The man, aged 44, was dead on arrival at a mine rescue centre, a spokesman for the mine’s operator, OKD, told reporters. Eight people died in mines owned by OKD, the country’s only producer of black coal, in 2014.

Dozens of bus and tram connections to change with opening of new Prague Metro station

The opening of a new Metro station in Prague in early April will result in the most changes to the city’s public transport system at one time since 2012, the news website iDnes.cz reported on Monday. When an extension of the A (green) line from Dejvická to Motol is launched, around 80 bus and 14 tram connections should follow different routes, while some new routes will be created and others discontinued, iDnes.cz said, quoting Ropid, the operator of Prague’s public transport system. Town Halls in Prague’s districts have until February 6 to question the proposed changes.

Lucie Hradecká creates upset at Australian Open

In tennis, Czech Lucie Hradecká has created a major upset in the first grand slam tournament of the year, the Australian Open, by knocking out fifth seed Ana Ivanovic. Hradecká had to play in the qualifications to get into the tournament. The Czech lost the first set 6:1 but stormed to a 3 game lead in the second and eventually took that 6:3. She rounded off the 90-minute match with a 6:2 win in the third set. There were also first round wins for Tomáš Berdych, Karolína Plíšková, and Lukaš Rosol.