Daily news summary Daily news summary

16-02-2015

President sends condolences to Queen of Denmark

President Miloš Zeman has sent condolences to the Queen of Denmark Margrethe II in connection with terrorist attacks in Copenhagen at the weekend in which two people were killed. In the letter, the head-of-state expressed regret that Denmark had suffered such an attack and condemned the incidents. On Sunday, the Czech prime minister also sent condolences, saying the attacks by what appeared to be a lone gunman – who was later shot and killed by the police – had targeted the principles of freedom and the values of democratic society.

Convoy, carrying humanitarian aid, departs for Ukraine

Four trucks, an ambulance, and support vehicles transporting 40 tonnes of humanitarian aid departed for Ukraine from the Czech Republic on Monday. The convoy is transporting medical supplies, sleeping bags, blankets and other equipment, destined for Kiev and other parts of the country, to help those displaced from their homes in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists. The convoy, organized by the Czech government, the Czech Red Cross and the NGO People in Need is expected to arrive by Tuesday night.

Act of vandalism targeting Arab store being treated as misdemeanour

An act of vandalism by an unknown perpetrator targeting an Arab grocery store in Teplice at the weekend is being treated as a misdemeanour by the police, at least for the time being. The qualification could yet change, depending on findings, a police spokesman said. The storefront late Friday or early Saturday was splashed in places with an as yet unknown red liquid, which the store owner maintained was blood. Police are still waiting for test results.

Czech major takes over as commander of Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron in Afghanistan

The Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron in Afghanistan, commanded by Americans until now, is being led its first Czech commander, Major Miroslav Šajban, the spokeswoman for the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces Jana Růžičková told the Czech News Agency. Major Šajban took over the command at a ceremony at the international airport in Kabul on Saturday. The post is seen as recognition of the work of Czech pilots after eight years of deployment as well as an expression of trust, the spokeswoman said. Major Šajban will coordinate the activities of Afghan, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian and US members of the squadron. The Czech Republic has a 150-member unit in Afghanistan where it guards the Bagram air base. More than 100 other Czech soldiers train Afghan pilots, are in charge of logistics for Czech personnel and guard the Czech embassy.

Three methanol affair suspects released pending re-trial

Three men originally convicted to between 16 and 21 years in prison for their roles in the Czech Republic’s “methanol affair” were released last week pending a re-trial. The High Court in Olomouc allowed the release after their case was returned to the regional court in Zlín. Previously, they had been remanded in custody for fear they could try and flee from justice but the High Court found that circumstances have since changed. The three - Viktor Koláček, Martin Jirout and Libor Vanderka - are accused of having mixed and helped distribute deadly batches of bootleg liquor. In the methanol affair, almost 50 people died from drinking the laced alcohol. The first poisonings appeared in September 2012, leading the goverment to temporarily introduce partial prohibition. In February of this year, a court handed the two main perpetrators in the affair life sentences.

Outgoing justice minister lashes out at opponents

Outgoing Justice Minister Helena Válková, who is due to step down on March 1st, has hit back at political opponents, telling the Czech daily Právo that no one had the right to pretend her resignation was of her own free will. The minister, who indicated at the weekend she had not felt support from fellow members of the ANO movement headed by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, said she had proposed a later date to step down than in roughly two weeks’ time, in order to complete unfinished work. She told the daily she did not sign a document which had been sent to her, but wrote her own letter of resignation. On Monday, leader Andrej Babiš reacted to her words, writing that he and Ms Válková had discussed her resignation several times. He added that she had been ANO’s most-criticised minister and not undeservingly. Had she not agreed to step down, he made clear, ANO would have proposed that she be recalled from her post.

eMoneyServices issues proposal on money owed

The company eMoneyServices on Monday issued Prague City Hall a proposal for payments owed for its services running the Opencard transit pass system in the years 2014 and 2015. City Hall is ready to negotiate but is also preparing its own version, which should be passed by councilors next week, Mayor Adriana Krnáčová said. The proposal only covers some outstanding debts, not an additional 170 million crowns being contested in court. The mayor said that the City of Prague wants to improve relations with EMS, comparing the situation to a divorce. She made clear that matters needed to be resolved before new professional commitments could be made. She declined to say whether Prague could enter a new agreement with EMS.

Czech Republic could lose 1.5 billion crowns in oil dispute, warns State Material Reserves Administration chairman

The Czech Republic could lose up to 1.5 billion crowns in a dispute over diesel oil in German storage tanks of Viktoriagruppe, Pavel Švagr, the chairman of the State Material Reserves Administration said on Sunday. The diesel oil stored in Krailing, Germany alone was worth one billion, he explained in a debate programme on Czech TV. The dispute over ownership started after the launch of insolvency proceedings with the company. A preliminary insolvency administrator issued a verdict in January which said the diesel oil stored in Germany was not owned by the Czech state. According to Švagr, the potential damage is related to the loss of the diesel oil itself stored in the Krailing facility, plus claims on Viktoriagruppe due to unpaid invoices, worth around 200 million. During a meeting with Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, the German Ambassador to Prague last week Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka asked German authorities for help with shipping the oil from Viktoriagruppe´s stores to the Czech Republic.

Greenhouse gas emissions fell by 33 percent between 1990 and 2012

Emissions of greenhouse gases decreased by 33 percent in the Czech Republic from 1990 - 2012 as the result of industry upgrades and is fulfilling Kyoto Protocol commitments, experts maintain. Climatologist Radim Tolasz told The Czech News Agency that almost all of the whole former eastern Bloc has met commitments without difficulty thanks to the restructuring of industries after the fall of communist regimes. But critics point out the environment in the country is still burdened by a prevalent dependence on fossil fuels and that excessive road traffic had also contributed strongly as an air pollutant. Vratislav Vozńik, the spokesman for the NGO Arnika criticised measures to save energy as inefficient and called the pace of decreasing greenhouse gases "slow". More than 80 percent of the gases come from energy, transport and industry, the rest from wastes and agriculture. The Environment Ministry is now preparing two new strategic documents aimed to further cut emissions and adapt the country to climate change. It is to submit them to the government in the latter half of the year.

Poll: 28 percent of Czechs who come down with flu continue to work

A new poll by STEM/MARK suggests that only a third of Czechs who come down with the flu go to their doctor while 28 percent do not take time off but continue to work. According to the survey, those who do not opt for rest, do so to avoid a drop in their monthly salary. Two out of five of those who come down with the flu take official sick leave, while 17 percent make use of holiday days instead, not going to see their doctor. More than half of those asked said they did not think flu vaccines were effective.

Woman charged with murders of newborns

Police have charged a 25-year-old woman from the area of Břeclav suspected of having murdered three newborn children since 2012; if found guilty, she faces a sentence of life in prison. Last Thursday, medics who had been called to the woman’s home contacted the police after learning she had given birth only shortly before but were unable to locate the baby. Police found the newborn dead as well as the remains of two other babies (not twins). Investigators learned that her partner had apparently not known about any of the pregnancies. Besides the murder, the police are investigating whether the couple was involved in the production of methamphetamine in their home.

Tennis: Berdych slips to eighth spot in rankings

Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych slipped to eighth spot in the ATP rankings after failing on Sunday to defend his title from Rotterdam. He was defeated by Swiss player Stan Warinka, who moved up to seventh spot. The Swiss is ahead by 90 points.

In women's tennis, Petra Kvitová has moved to third in the WTA rankings.

16-02-2015