Daily news summary Daily news summary

24-02-2020

Police raid Labour Ministry, accuse officials of corruption over IT tender

Police have accused two officials at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in connection with a public tender to provide IT services.

The Prague Prosecutor General’s office announced the police action on Monday following separate raids at the ministry and an IT company called OKSystem, carried out by the police anti-organised crime and corruption unit (NCOZ).

The main focus of the police investigation is a 1 billion crown order for a new internal computer system not yet up and running.

Coronavirus: Czechs to convene commission following spread to Italy

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch has said he will convene a special commission on Thursday in the wake of news that the coronavirus has spread from China to Italy.

In early February, the Czech government banned direct flights from China. Vojtěch said further restrictions and measures could be introduced.

No-one has tested for positive for the coronavirus in the Czech Republic to date. A plane with Czech humanitarian aid for China took off from Vienna on Sunday, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said via Twitter.

Prague approves renaming Russian Embassy address after Boris Nemtsov

Prague City Council has approved a proposal to rename the square outside the Russian Embassy after Boris Nemtsov, a prominent Kremlin critic slain five years ago.

City councillors say the move to rename Pod Kaštany square is a gesture of solidarity with Russian pro-democracy and human rights campaigners.

Five Chechen men were found guilty of having gunned down Nemtsov on 27 February 2015. But his family say those who ordered the assassination have not been brought to justice.

Prague City Council also voted in favour of renaming a promenade in the Bubeneč district after investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, slain a decade earlier.

CzechTrade, CzechTourism agencies to move into CzechInvest headquarters

The Czech government has backed a proposal to move the CzechTrade and CzechTourism agencies into the CzechInvest headquarters.

The cabinet also is considering later merging the three agencies, which aim to boost activity in their respective sectors. Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček says a merger would save 138 million crowns over the next three years.

The Czech Chamber of Commerce (HKČR) argues simply merging the agencies without overhauling their activities is mere window-dressing.

Czech gov’t supports bill to facilitate class action lawsuits

The government has backed a bill to introduce class action to Czech law, thereby allowing people with identical or similar claims to assert these in court jointly, in single proceedings.

Czech law to some extent already de facto allows for jointly asserting claims, for example in consumer disputes, but current regulation is rather fragmentary.

The Ministry of Justice, which drafted the bill, says it will reduce costs for all parties concerned, and reduce the administrative burden on courts.

WWII-era bomb found in Moravian town Kuřim, hundreds evacuated

More than 300 people were evacuated from the Moravian town of Kuřim on Monday morning following the discovery the night before of an unexploded 50kg bomb dropped during World War II.

Specialists dug up the unexploded bomb on Monday morning and evacuated buildings along the route of its transport to a special site to be detonated. It was discovered by a man equipped with a metal detector.

Mene Tekel festival gets underway on Monday

Mene Tekel, a week-long festival focused on the totalitarian regimes of the past, gets underway in Prague on Monday. The main theme of this year’s 14th edition of the festival is the memento of George Orwell.

Among the many festival events taking place in different parts of Prague is the premiere of the film Orwell Project or 2 + 2 = 4?.

The festival is organized by the civic association Art Without Barriers, the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian regimes and the Confederation of Political Prisoners.

Thousands of homes remain without electricity after windstorm

Emergency services, energy providers and fire fighters are dealing with the damage caused by the gale-force winds that hit the Czech Republic on Sunday afternoon and evening.

The highest wind speed was recorded at the peak of the country’s highest mountain, Sněžka, in the Krkonoše Mountains, where it reached 223 kilometres per hour.

Fallen trees complicated rail and road traffic in many parts of the country and thousands of households still remain without electricity, mainly in the west of the country.

Weather

Tuesday should be cloudy but relatively warm throughout the country, with daytime highs ranging from 7 to 10 degrees Celsius.

24-02-2020