The organizers of the prestigious German Quadriga Prize cancelled on Saturday this year’s award ceremony following an outcry by a number of international figures including former Czech president Václav Havel who protested against Russia’s Prime Minister Vladmir Putin receiving the award. Mr Havel, who received the prize in 2009, had threatened to return his award if the Russian official is given the prize, the German news website Deutsche Welle reported on Saturday. Mr Havel has reportedly asked the Quadriga jury to reconsider their decision which had surprised and disappointed him. The Czech daily Lidové noviny reported on Saturday that another Czech recipient of the prize, the head of the humanitarian NGO People in Need Šimon Pánek, was considering the same move.
The Czech government might increase the VAT rate to 19 percent, while at the same time retaining a lower VAT rate for medicines, books and other printed materials including newspapers, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Saturday. The government is considering the move to make up for lower tax revenues that have been collected so far this year. The prime minister said the hike could be temporary until a balanced state budget is reached by 2016. While supported by Mr Nečas’ party, the Civic Democrats, as well as the coalition TOP 09 party, the junior coalition partner Public Affairs oppose the idea. The centre-right Czech government originally planned to introduce a single VAT rate of 17.5 percent to pay for an overhaul of the pension system.
All Czech MPs and government ministers have filed their income declarations for last year with the lower house of Parliament, as required by law, the news agency ČTK reported on Saturday. Some politicians reportedly had to correct their declarations, the agency said. The declarations will now be reviewed by the lower house’ immunity and mandate committee; its chair, Social Democrat Jeroným Tejc said he did not expect any penalties would have to be handed out. The most indebted Czech MP is Public Affairs member Michal Babák who is also reportedly under police investigation for money laundering,
Environmental activists continue on Saturday their campaign of physically blocking certain areas of the Šumava National Park to prevent the logging of bark beetle infested trees. The Czech branch of the Friends of the Earth, which organizes the protest, says the park management has failed to obtain an exemption required to cut in the most protected parts of the park but it had some 3,000 trees marked in the area for logging. The campaign began on Friday; however, no loggers reportedly showed up to fell trees in the areas in question.
The Czech Republic’s anti-monopoly watchdog has cancelled a 400-million crown tender to repair bridges in the Liberec region in the north of the country, the daily Mladá fronta dnes reported on Saturday. The winning bidder would land a deal to repair more than 50 bridges on lower class roads across the region. However, the tender’s criteria were discriminatory, the anti-monopoly authority said. The head of the Office for the Protection of Competition, Petr Rafaj, said that according to the criteria, the successful bidder would have to prove a turnover of up to 80 percent of the deal’s value, which was against the law. Regional authorities have accepted the verdict and opened a new tender.
Two people died in a railway accident that occurred near Rudná, just west of Prague, on Friday night. A 47-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl were killed when their car was crossing the railway tracks and was hit by a train. Police said the man ignored a stop sign and drove straight into the coming train. Traffic on the railway line has been suspended, and won’t resume until 11 PM on Saturday.
Czech motorbike racer Karel Abrahám finished 13th in Saturday’s qualification in Moto2 class for the German Grand Prix in Sachsenring on Saturday, after two falls during his practice session. The Czech member of the Cardion AB Motoracing said both falls could have been avoided but also complained about problems with his bike’s front wheel. Another Czech in the circuit, 120 ccm rider Jakob Kornfeil, only finished six measured laps during his practice and will be 30th on the grid.
The weekend will see mostly clear skies with occasional rain showers. Daytime highs will range between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius.