Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas has revealed that a controversial public tender on removing environmental damage in the Czech Republic, which was slammed by critics as highly non-transparent and open to corruption, is effectively at an end. On Wednesday he said that the government will not name a winner in the deal, which had potentially been worth billions of crowns. The cheapest offer by firms interested in conducting the massive clean-up project came from Marius Pedersen Engineering, which asked for 56.8 billion crowns. But Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek did not recommend the deal to the cabinet, suggesting the price was less than convincing. Prime Minister Nečas repeated on Wednesday that there had always been doubts over the massive project, which he said had been confirmed by the offers received. The firms taking part in the tender will have 15 days to raise any objections.
President Václav Klaus – on a three-day visit to the region of Ústí in northern Bohemia – has slammed groups apparently trying to take advantage of social unrest in the area for their own political gain. The president accused some of purposely whipping up tensions in troubled areas, mentioning by name past fraudster Lukáš Kohout – an organiser of recent anti-Roma demonstrations. In September police officials warned that extremist right-wing groups would try and use growing social unrest in northern Bohemia to their advantage.
Later on Wednesday, the Czech president will meet with local mayors to discuss developments. But some officials have charged the president should have more specifically tailored his visit to address what was going on. One local mayor, Josef Zoser, has criticised the president for not meeting members of the public but only with elected officials.
The centre-right government, led by Prime Minister Petr Nečas, will take under consideration a proposal outlining the formation of a specialized team of state prosecutors to deal with major corruption cases and economic crime. Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake, of the Public Affairs party, told journalists on Wednesday that the proposal would see further work, indicating that one idea could be the formation of special courts. The creation of a special 15-member unit for economic crime and corruption, the Justice Ministry indicated, could help remove local ties between corrupt local prosecutors and the criminal underworld. According to Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil, who put forward the proposal, state prosecutors would also be able to work more effectively with the country’s police.
The Czech Republic and several other European countries along with Russia and the United States, sold weapons to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa, in recent years, says a report by the watchdog group Amnesty International. The report was released on Wednesday. Since 2005, weapons were shipped to countries like Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, and Syria, with some of them used to try and suppress the popular uprising the Arab Spring, Amnesty International said. On the basis of the report, the organisation is calling for the rules on arms export to be tightened to lower the risk of weapons being used in human rights violations.
Former prime minister and ex-Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolánek will reportedly attend the Civic Democrats’ upcoming party conference. The former party leader received an invitation from current chairman Prime Minister Petr Nečas, a media representative for Mr Topolánek said. He is due to give an address on Saturday. Mr Topolánek stepped down as chairman last April after making controversial statements in an interview for a gay magazine, causing a scandal. He was replaced by Mr Nečas shortly before the 2010 national election and did not attend last year’s conference. Following his departure from high politics, Mr Topolánek moved to the private sector: he was elected chairman of the executive board of the Association for District Heating of the Czech Republic in September.
A newly-founded leftist political party led by former prime minister Jiři Paroubek applied for official registration on Wednesday at the country’s Interior Ministry. Entitled the National Socialists – 21st century Left, the party will soon go online with a new website, the party’s spokesman Tomáš Sazima said. The party provided a list of statutes as well signatures by 1,200 people in the registration porcess. The team overseeing preparations include former hockey player turned politician Jiří Šlégr. Mr Paroubek’s plan, sources report, is to begin close cooperation with the existing National Socialist Party (CSNS 2005) soon and to present a joint programme in late November.
A new poll by the CVVM agency has suggested that if national elections were held today they would be won by the opposition Social Democrats who would gain around 32 percent of the vote, while the Civic Democrats, currently in government, would receive 23.5. The Communist Party would come in third – with 15.5 percent, following by right-wing party TOP 09 at 14.
According to the survey, no other party - neither Public Affairs nor the Green Party nor the Christian Democrats - would gain enough votes to pass the five percent threshold to make it into the lower house. The Christian Democrats – ousted from the lower house in the last elections – would come up just short: with 4.4 percent, the survey suggests. The poll was conducted between October 3 and October 10th, questioning more than 1,000 respondents.
A court has ordered Prague’s General Teaching Hospital to pay a former patient 25,000 crowns in damages (around 1,400 US dollars) for having conducted an oophorectomy on the woman – the surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes – without her consent. The woman had been asking for 100,000 crowns in damages. She was operated in 2002 for the removal of an ovarian tumor; the doctor overseeing her case had specified in her file that surgical removal was only to be conducted if evidence of disease was uncovered, but the patient apparently failed to understand all of the implications. Wednesday’s decision can still be appealed.
The Slovak-born, Prague-based actress and film producer Deana Horváthová-Jakubisková was involved in a traffic accident on Monday which killed a 62-year-old pedestrian, the Czech news website idnes has reported. Mrs Horváthová-Jakubisková, the wife of respected filmmaker Juraj Jakubisko, hit the man with a borrowed all-terrain vehicle on a street in Prague 4; he died of his injuries three hours later. Mrs Horváthová-Jakubisková, who expressed shock over the tragedy, told a Czech tabloid that she had maintained the speed limit and had not drunk alcohol before driving. The accident took place at around 10 in the morning at a pedestrian crosswalk; an investigation is being conducted.
Czech football champions Viktoria Plzeň face Barcelona at Nou Camp on Wednesday in their third game in Group H. in the Champions League. Practising ahead of the match, the club’s players expressed excitement and anticipation over a “wish fulfilled”, even though the game against the defending champions – one of the world’s top football clubs – will be far from easy. Coach Pavel Vrba has called it “a dream come true which might never be repeated”. Viktoria Plzeň are currently at the bottom of their group, after drawing with Bate Borisov in Game 1 but then losing against AC Milan.
Mostly cloudy conditions with showers are expected over the next few days. Daytime temperatures on Wednesday are expected to reach highs of around 8 degrees Celsius.