The European Union must reinforce its outer borders in order to be able to cope with the refugee crisis, the Czech and Austrian foreign ministers, Lubomír Zaorálek and Sebastian Kurz, agreed during talks in Linz on Friday. They also stressed the need for the EU to concentrate more on the so called West Balkans route via which thousands of illegal migrants are pouring into central Europe. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said it was important to help the EU buffer states secure the alliance’s outer borders and noted that the Czech Republic was in negotiations with Hungary and Macedonia on providing technical and material assistance.
The State Attorney’s Office in Prague has filed charges against six people in connection with serious irregularities at the Czech Export Bank. The case pertains to ill-advised and risky loans granted for projects in China and Tunisia in violation of banking regulations. Among those charged are former members of the bank’s executive board. According to the police the damage to the state was over half a billion crowns.
Czechs are marking the 47th anniversary of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. Speaking at a commemorative ceremony outside the Czech Radio building, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the lessons of the past remain pertinent to the present day. He drew a parallel between the 1968 invasion and Russia’s invasion of Crimea and its policy in Eastern Ukraine.
Numerous other events are taking place to mark the anniversary, including a concert on Prague’s Wenceslas Square and an exhibition of photos capturing the events of 1968. Over 100 Czechs and Slovaks were killed in the invasion, when an estimated 500,000 soldiers invaded the country in the early hours of August 21 1968 in order to supress the Prague Spring reform movement.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has stressed the need to move ahead with the transformation of the former Soviet military base in Milovice, which he described as the biggest brownfield in the Czech Republic. During talks with the governor of the Central Bohemia region, Miloš Peterka, the prime minister said the government and the region must reach agreement on the transformation of the former military site. The area is to serve as a big investment zone but many questions remain unresolved, such as whether the former military airfield should be preserved and reconstructed.
The Czech Film and Television Academy has joined the wave of international support for Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov. Sentsov was arrested by the Russian police in Crimea in May of this year and is being tried on charges of terrorism. The Russian authorities accuse him of preparing a terrorist attack in Crimea. A verdict is expected next week. Human rights groups say the case against Oleg Sentsov was fabricated as a payback for his vocal opposition to the Russian annexation of Crimea. If found guilty, the film director could face up to 23 years in jail.
Slovak President Andrej Kiska who on Thursday underwent hip joint surgery at the Plzeň Teaching Hospital is reported to be recovering well and has started rehabilitation exercises, his spokesman told the ctk news agency. If all goes well the Slovak president should be released from hospital on Saturday. The president is said to have suffered from a painful chronic joint infection for some time. His spokesman rejected allegations that the Slovak head of state mistrusted Slovak specialists, saying that he had come to the specialized clinic in Plzeň on the advice of Slovak doctors.
The transparent management of the state-owned company Czech Post is being obstructed by pressure from various individuals, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after a meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday evening, held over allegations of corruption surrounding Czech Post and the Social Democratic Party. According to the allegations, a member of the Social Democratic Party requested a three million crown bribe, of which one million was to be for Interior Minister Milan Chovanec. The prime minister said on Thursday that Mr Chovanec should not be intimidated by the pressure. Politicians have called for the matter to be investigated as soon as possible.
The Czech police are reported to have cracked down on an eight member gang which smuggled cocaine from Peru to the Czech Republic. According to a police spokeswoman the arrests took place in July. The gang smuggled the drug diluted in wine bottles flying from Peru to Vienna and then driving to the Czech Republic. During the raid the police confiscated 1.3 kg of cocaine with a street value of 10 million crowns and four illegally held weapons. If convicted of drugs smuggling and illegal sale of narcotics the group’s members could each face up to 18 years in jail.
A former officer of the country’s anti-organized crime squad has committed suicide in prison, the internet news site novinky.cz reports. The former high-ranking officer of this elite unit was sentenced to six years in jail for taking bribes. He is reported to have accepted money in return for classified information on selected cases.
The web page of Prague City Hall has been inaccessible to users since early Friday morning. A spokesman for Prague City Hall said this was due to technical problems on one of the servers and apologized for any inconvenience to users. In April the city hall’s web page was inaccessible for several days. According to Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová this was due to the fact that the previous management had neglected the city hall’s IT services.
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