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23-06-2015

Czech Republic rejects draft conclusions of EU summit allowing for refugee quotas

The Czech Republic has rejected part of the draft conclusions of a European Union summit on illegal migration, the country’s foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said after a meeting of EU ministers on Tuesday. Mr. Zaorálek said Prague continued to insist on the voluntary acceptance of asylum seekers and would not agree to a system under which states were allotted a number of refugees on the basis of quotas. The Czech foreign policy chief said he had supported the defence of the EU’s external borders and the creation of a mechanism for returning asylum seekers. Mr. Zaorálek told reporters that Spain, Portugal, the Baltic States and the other Visegrad countries were also against quotas. Under the proposed system the Czech Republic would have to take in 1,300 refugees.

Chechen president says sanctions affecting stable in Czech Republic breach horses’ rights

The Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, says EU sanctions that cover his stable of racehorses in the Czech Republic represent a breach of horses’ rights. On Monday the Czech Ministry of Finance said the stable could continue functioning but profits it made would be seized as part of sanctions targeted against Russia; any winnings must be put back into its operation. Mr. Kadyrov’s stable was registered with the Czech Jockey Club in 2012. The Chechen leader has been a long-term supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has backed his actions relating to Ukraine.

Supreme Court quashes decision allowing extradition of three to US

The Supreme Court in Prague has quashed a decision on the admissibility of the extradition to the United States of three men wanted on charges of collaborating with terrorists. The news was relayed to the Czech News Agency by a spokesperson for the Prague Municipal Court, which had agreed to the extradition in April. The Supreme Court upheld complaints from the accused, who said the US had not provided sufficient guarantees they would not be subject to inhumane treatment. The Municipal Court must now request specification from the US authorities. The US says the three – two are from the Ivory Coast and the other is Lebanon-born with Ukrainian citizenship – attempted to sell weapons and cocaine to its agents posing as Colombian FARC rebels.

Zeman’s chancellor presents declaration of assets to TOP 09 after criticism

The property declaration of President Miloš Zeman’s chancellor has been made public. Vratislav Mynář presented the document to TOP 09 and Mayors MP Věřa Kovářová on Tuesday and she posted it on the web with his permission. However, there has been a surprised reaction to the lack of information in the declaration, which states that in 2013 Mr. Mynář did not buy property, have debts or receive any gifts. His move came days after the TOP 09 and Mayors parliamentary group criticized the president for his support for a government bill on the declaration of assets; it said Mr. Zeman’s move was hypocritical given that Mr. Mynář had failed to produce a property declaration after more than two years at Prague Castle.

Amazon hiring IT, HR specialists as well as warehouse staff

The US firm Amazon is hiring around 500 people, mainly IT and human resources specialists, for a corporate centre that it has just opened in Prague’s Dejvice district. The internet retailer is also continuing to recruit staff for a warehouse it has built at Dobrovíz in Central Bohemia. Dozens of managers for the Dobrovíz centre are currently undergoing training in the United States. The ceremonial opening of the Dejvice office building was attended by the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, and Amazon’s vice president for Europe, Roy Perticucci.

“Great success” after Brussels makes funding available for protection of Czech landmarks

The Czech Republic will be able to access over CZK 11 billion of European Union funding for the protection and repair of historical landmarks in the next five years, the Czech News Agency reported. The money is available as part of an Integrated Regional Operational Programme approved by the European Commission at the start of June. The Czech Ministry of Culture has drawn up a list of monuments for which it hopes to acquire funding. A ministry spokesperson said the Czech Republic’s negotiations with the European Commission can be regarded as a great success because the latter had not identified cultural heritage as a priority in the budgetary period in question.

Czech police uncover counterfeit gold bars

The Czech police’s anti-corruption unit has uncovered counterfeit gold bars in an investigation into VAT fraud of almost CZK 500,000. A spokesperson said more information on the case would be made public at a news conference on Wednesday. The police – who have uncovered the workshop where they were produced – are hoping that drawing attention to the matter will alert people who may have purchased the faked gold bars, which only experts can tell apart from the real thing; they come with certificates and weigh the same as real gold bars.

Prague 10 nixes plan for new City Hall

City councillors in the district of Prague 10 have killed a controversial plan by the previous administration for a new City Hall building which would cost the district 775 million crowns. In the autumn, councillors will look into new possibilities. The former plan for a new administrative building drew sharp protests from some locals, who held demonstrations and signed a petition. A local referendum was also held on the issue last year, but not enough residents took part for the results to be binding.

Unknown perpetrators hold up motorist transferring company funds

Unknown perpetrators held up the driver of a Škoda Fabia in Hradec Králové on Monday, tasked with the transfer of cash for a local firm, the police say. The vehicle was purposely struck by an assailant backing up a Mitsubishi; he and an accomplice then used a tear gas spray on their target to wrestle away a bag with money. They then made their escape. The Mitsubishi as well as the bag were later found and witnesses said the accomplices made off in another vehicle. The police have not revealed how much money was taken.

Gott sings for German coach on eve of U21 clash in Prague

The veteran Czech singer Karel Gott sang for the manager of the German Under 21 soccer team, Horst Hrubesch, in Prague on Monday. The coach and former German international, who is 64, said at a news conference that he had known Gott for 25 years and had welcomed the invitation to his home. The Czech Republic play Germany at the European Under 21 Championship in Prague on Tuesday evening in a game that the hosts need to win to ensure qualification for the semi-finals. Hrubesch said Gott had told him both teams had a place in his heart: the Czech Republic was home, but Germany, where he has sold millions of albums, meant a lot to him.

23-06-2015