The Czech government at its first 2011 meeting on Wednesday adopted the main lines of an anti-corruption strategy. Details of the road map of how to tackle graft will, however, be filled out by a special working group of party leaders. They will follow the lines set out for them by Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. The final draft of the strategy including five reworked points of the 58-point programme should be adopted in two weeks.
Tension between coalition partners has mounted over the proposed strategy. The biggest government party, the Civic Democrats, and junior party, Public Affairs, clashed over the proposal drawn up by Public Affairs leader and Minister of the Interior Radek John. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Tuesday that he wanted the proposal reworked to incorporate observations about it from the economic advisory council, NERV. He also expressed reservations about the idea of police being given greater access to corruption suspects’ tax records. In the end, only a special police unit will have access to these tax records. Mr. John accused the prime minister of trying to ‘mutilate’ his proposal.
The new US ambassador to the Czech Republic should take up his posting in the second half of this month, the Czech News Agency reported on Wednesday citing diplomatic sources. US president Barack Obama’s ethics advisor, Norman Eisen, was appointed to the post at the end of last year taking advantage of a loophole allowing the president to push through nominations while Congress is in recess. The appointment of Eisen had faced opposition, notably from one mid-west Republican. The post of US ambassador will have been vacant for two years on January 20th.
The head of the Czech Energy Regulatory Office said 1650 MW of solar power was connected to the grid shortly before the end of 2010. Office chairman Josef Firt the figure was valid for December 29 and the final figure for the end of 2010 will vary by just a few kilowatts. The regulator had cleared 1780 MW of capacity but some investors will clearly fail to complete by the end of 2010. Solar power in the Czech Republic climbed around fourfold over the year compared with the 463 MW connected at the start of 2010.
Mr. Firt said that he expected a further rush to connect solar facilities before the March 31 deadline for facilities over 30 KV on open ground to continue getting more advantageous feed in tariffs.
Government ministries only sacked a fraction of the officials they originally promised by the end of 2010, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Wednesday. It pointed out that some government departments originally said in September that around 6,000 staff would be sacked. The paper says it turns out that nine ministries have so far got rid of 1,704 staff with just under 4,000 job losses notified. The Finance Ministry and Ministry of Interior have been the most hesitant about axing staff with each sacking around 140 of the declared 900-1,000 initial target. The government says that the main object for ministries is to save 10 percent of staff cost and that they are given leeway how to make those savings.
Police have revealed that a Czech national killed his Czech girlfriend at her apartment in north London before jumping under a subway train at Finsbury Park Tube station on New Year’s Day. The woman, in her late twenties, had been stabbed multiple times; her body was found by emergency services the next day. Reports say that the police were not aware of any previous violence between the couple; they are now trying to locate the woman’s relatives in the Czech Republic. Police said no one else was suspected of any involvement in the man's suicide or the woman's murder.
The acting head of the main opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, has said the party will weigh up an offer to take part in the selection of a new head of the police force. Interior Minister Radek John announced on Tuesday that a 10-member committee will decide on a successor to Oldřich Martinů, the police president who stepped down at the end of December.
Two of the places on the committee were offered to former interior ministers: Martin Pecina and Frantíšek Bublan, both members of the opposition Social Democrats. The departure of the police chief is thought to have been to be at the centre of a deal between the coalition government parties which helped them survive a vote of no confidence. Individual candidates will be able to apply until Monday, the interior minister said. So far two people have publically expressed interest in the job: deputy police chief Ivan Bílek and Deputy Interior Minister Viktor Čech.
The project of renowned Czech architect Jan Kaplický for a new and futuristic national library building in Prague has been rejected by the new head of the library. Director Tomáš Böhm said that money for such a building, nicknamed the blob, was simply not available. He added that the library’s biggest priority at the moment was to tackle the shortage of storage space for its collection. A new library building might be thought about in five to 10 years with a new competition likely launched for the design, he said.
Czech Tatra truck racer Marek Spáčil and fellow team members Vodrhánek and Vršecký have withdrawn from the Dakar Rally underway in South America. They took the step after crashing in the second stage, the Czech Dakar Team reported its website on Tuesday. Unofficial reports said the truck flipped over onto its roof; none of the crew members were injured. On Sunday, following the opening stage from Victoria to Cordoba, Spáčil and co. had been in sixth place, 13 minutes off of the leader.
The most promising Czech contender in the Truck category, Aleš Loprais, is currently in second place, seconds behind leader Firdaus Kabirov of Russia. Quad rider Josef Macháček, meanwhile, has widened the gap between himself and other opponents following a second-place finish in the second stage. After winning the first, he leads the Quad category over all and now has a five minute gap between himself and nearest rider Alejandro Patronelli.
The Czech Republic’s hockey team has finished in 7th place at the Junior World Championship after beating Slovakia 5:2. It is the second time the Czechs and Slovaks – former compatriots – have faced off at the Juniors and the second time in a row the U20 team has finished in 7th spot. In the tournament the Czech Republic fared well against Norway, Germany and Slovakia, but were badly beaten by Russia, Sweden and Canada.
Freezing conditions will continue until Thursday with a sharp thaw expected to start on Friday. Daytime temperatures will rise as high as four degrees Celsius.