Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said he will not allow the outgoing Deputy Interior Minister Michal Moroz to take up a high level post in government working for his former boss Radek John who is to handle a newly established anti-corruption portfolio in the Nečas Cabinet. Mr. Moroz revealed his plan to follow his boss to a new government post less than 24 hours after Radek John was forced to vacate the post of interior minister within an effort to clean the ministry of people who might have links to the security firm ABL. Michal Moroz who said he would be leaving the ministry at the end of the month is also linked to the said security firm.
The scandal surrounding the junior coalition party Public Affairs and its alleged ties to the security firm ABL brought the government to the brink of collapse and led to a cabinet re-shuffle in which two Public Affairs ministers were replaced.
The opposition Social Democrats have proposed putting a ceiling on election campaign expenditures. According to party leader Bohuslav Sobotka there should also be a restriction on sponsorship gifts received and the number of billboards each party can put up. The opposition party is proposing a ceiling of 80 million crowns on annual party expenditures in election years. The sum would not include employees’ salaries or rent on buildings and property. The main rivals on the Czech scene the Civic and Social Democrats are still in debt after spending astronomical amounts of money on the 2010 election campaign.
Human remains are reported to have been found amidst the debris of an explosives factory damaged by a powerful blast on Wednesday. A police spokesman said it had been confirmed that the remains were human but it was still not clear if they belonged to one of more individuals. Four people were reported missing after the accident –a powerful nitroglycerin explosion – at the Explosia plant in the suburbs of Pardubice. The plant manufactures the plastic explosive Semtex, often used in terrorist attacks because of its high performance and easy use. The blast damaged only part of the building and the factory resumed operation on Friday.
A former manager with the now defunct Czech Consolidation Agency has received a high fine and an eighteen months suspended sentence for accepting a bribe. A Prague court found Radka Kafková guilty of having accepted 400 000 crowns from a company taking part in an open tender in return for giving them inside information about the competition including offers made by rival companies. She also promised to manipulate the results for which she was to receive more money.
Tests of the soil in the vicinity of the Chropyně factory for plastic waste recycling which burnt to the ground in a three day blaze last week have shown that most samples contain excessive levels of toxic substances. The town’s mayor said that tests on ground water had produced similar results. Experts have said that the degree of pollution only slightly exceeds set norms and does not present a direct threat to health. The locals have however resigned themselves to the fact that their gardens will have to serve a decorative purpose for at least a year.
Visiting Hungarian President Pal Schmitt on Friday met with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas for talks on EU matters, nuclear power and bilateral relations. The Hungarian president wound up his two day visit to the Czech Republic with a trip to Melnik north of Prague where he arranged a twin-city project with the Hungarian city Tokay, famed for its excellent wines. On a walk-about President Schmitt viewed a sculpture by a Hungarian artist in memory of Jan Palach, a student who died after setting himself on fire in 1969 to protest the Soviet invasion of his country.
The outcome of an opinion survey conducted by the STEM polling agency suggests that the majority of Czechs do not support the government’s reform plans. According to the poll 49 percent of respondents said they did not support the reforms in their present form and another 20 percent of people were radically opposed to them. Thirty percent of respondents said they supported the reforms with certain reservations.
Police statistics indicate there has been a sharp increase in the number of fictitious marriages between Czechs and foreign nationals for financial remuneration in order to help legalize their residence in the country. A police spokeswoman said that immigration police uncovered 42 fictitious marriages in 2010, up from 36 the previous year. Experts in the field say the actual number of fictitious marriages is bound to be much higher and there is now also a new trend of Czech men proclaiming parenthood of foreign children which makes them eligible for Czech citizenship and their mothers for a temporary residence permit.
Prague’s famous astronomical clock on Old Town Square is back in operation after an enforced three-week break for repairs and maintenance. Workers have been redoing walls within the Old Town Hall tower to combat dampness which has an adverse affect on the clock mechanism and experts have been repairing a mechanical golden rooster on the outside of the building in order to renew the motion of the roosters wings. The clock can once again be viewed in all its glory.
Traffic police are expected to be out in force over the long Easter weekend and will focus on speeding and drink driving, the most common cause of accidents in the Czech Republic. Police spokeswoman Eva Miklikova said a similar road-safety operation has produced results last year, bringing down the number of accidents and reducing the number of road deaths to four from 15 the previous year.
The long Easter weekend is expected to be bright and sunny in most parts of the country with the possibility of scattered shows on Monday. Day temperatures should reach 20 degrees Celsius.