A Prague court has refused bail for former Ukrainian economy minister Bohdan Danylyshyn who was detained in Prague earlier this year on an Interpol arrest warrant. The former minister, who is accused of abuse of office at home, had offered 250,000 crowns in bail and a pledge that he would not try to leave the country. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg recently confirmed that Mr. Danylyshyn has asked for political asylum in the Czech Republic.
Danylyshyn is not the first member of the former administration to face such charges – several other former high ranking-officials have been the target of similar accusations since Yulia Tymoshenko’s long-time opponent Viktor Yanukovich defeated her in a tight presidential race in January of this year. The opposition says the charges are part of a political vendetta against Tymoshenko’s party.
Prague councilor Lukáš Plachý has resigned from office following allegations of corruption. The Social Democrat councilor offered his resignation just days after being sworn in, after being accused of having offered another party member a bribe. Mr. Plachý claims he is innocent and wants to clear his name. The mayor, Bohuslav Svoboda, has welcomed the decision saying that the post would remain unfilled until the matter was resolved.
The situation on Czech roads is slowly returning to normal following two days of severe problems due to heavy snowfall. The vast majority of roads have now been cleared and traffic along the country’s highways is slowly returning to normal. Prague’s main international airport is fully operational. Complications are expected in the eastern part of the country, Moravia, which may get another 20 centimeters of fresh snow in the course of the day. Meanwhile the western part of the country is bracing for an Arctic weekend with temperatures expected to drop to minus 25 degrees Celsius.
The bout of freezing cold weather this week claimed two lives in the Czech Republic, both of them homeless people in Prague. Altogether six homeless people have frozen to death in the big cities since the onset of winter. In view of the sub-zero temperatures over the weekend police officers have been ordered to make frequent rounds of the usual sites where homeless people gather and take them to shelters.
President Václav Klaus on Friday met with Interior Minister Radek John to discuss the situation in the country’s police force and the minister’s reasons for demanding the resignation of the police president. The interior minister said at a press briefing in Prague last week that he was highly dissatisfied with the way the country’s elite police units were functioning and put the blame on the police president for reportedly not being in control of the situation. The criticism came shortly after Police president Oldřich Martinu’s chief deputy resigned, citing constant discord between the country’s elite police units.
Jan Kasič, a mayor for the Social Democrats, who is charged with corruption, has curtailed his party membership and resigned from all his posts. The mayor of Pardubice 3 was secretly filmed as he offered journalists for commercial TV Prima a bribe to prevent them running an investigative report about his past in the communist secret police. The journalists said Mr. Kasič had tried to threaten them and when all else failed had offered them money.
The Builders’ Association has warned there will be more lay-offs in the sector due to waning demand. According to the head of the association, Vaclav Matyas, up to 70,000 construction workers may be laid off next year. The latest figures suggest there are approximately 450,000 people working in the construction business at the present time.
Czech agriculture will show a profit of only around one billion crowns this year, which is the worst result since the Czech Republic's entry in the European Union in 2004, according to estimates of the Agricultural Association. In 2009, Czech farmers generated a profit of 2.6 billion. The drop in profit, which farmers will see despite higher purchasing prices, is mainly ascribed to the lower volume of government subsidies. Agricultural unions plan to block one of the motorways leading to Prague on December 8th, the day of a trade union strike in protest of low wages in the public sector. If their demand for higher subsidies is not met after the blockage, farmers say they will block all motorways to Prague on December 10.
The police said on Friday they had detained a 14-year-old youth who brutally beat up and robbed a 30-year-old man in a wheelchair. The boy allegedly attacked the man after he refused to hand over all his valuables and cash. He overturned the wheelchair and when the man fell to the ground kicked him several times before taking his wallet and mobile phone. The boy was found to have previously robbed an 83-year-old woman. Since he is underage he will be sent to a correctional centre for juveniles. Growing incidents of violence committed by juveniles has led the justice minister to propose harsher punishment for underage criminals.
Sales of new passenger cars in the Czech Republic grew by 5 percent to 154,107 vehicles in the period from January to November, the Car Importers Association said on Friday. In November alone sales of passenger cars increased by almost 2 percent. Company cars account for 60 percent of the sales. The favourable development was influenced by a change in the law on value added tax last year which enabled companies to deduct VAT when buying passenger cars.
Football club Sparta Prague made it through to the next round in the Europa League after tying with Palermo on Wednesday evening. The Czech side, playing in Italy, twice came from behind to tie 2:2 in their Group F match. Second-half strikes from Jiří Kladrubský and Juraj Kucka cancelled out goals from Nicola Rigoni and Mauricio Pinilla respectively – assuring Sparta a place in the round of 32. Their hosts ended with nine men following the dismissals of Dorin Goian and Javier Pastore. Sparta Prague is the only Czech team still in European competition.
The coming weekend is expected to be extremely cold with daytime temperatures dropping to minus 20 degrees Celsius in places. More snow is expected in the southern and eastern parts of the country.