The police are to charge two people in the case of the 2006 purchase of Tatra trucks for the Czech army, prosecutors investigating the deal said on Wednesday. They refused to specify the charges or who will be charged; according to the daily Mladá fronta Dnes, the police are going to charge former defence minister Martin Barták and arms dealer Michal Smrž.
The 2.7-billion-crown deal to buy 555 Tatra trucks for the Czech army was sealed in December 2006. The police launched investigation into the purchase last year, after the head of Tatra’s board of directors, and former US ambassador to Prague, William Cabaniss, said he was asked for a bribe by then deputy defence minister Martin Barták.
The Slovak government has asked Czech doctors to temporarily step in for their Slovak colleagues who are quitting en masse in a labour dispute over low salaries, a spokesman for the Czech Health Ministry said on Wednesday. 2,000 out of 7,000 Slovak doctors handed in their notices that will expire on December 1. Czech Health Minister Leoš Heger said he would inform Czech hospital doctors of the offer; however, most experts are sceptical about a potential influx of Czech doctors to Slovakia. For his part, the head of the Czech doctors’ labour union, Martin Engel, said he would ask medics to ignore the appeal so as not to break their Slovak colleagues’ protest.
The Czech government on Wednesday tightened the rules for calculating the volume of active ingredients in cannabis; by January 2012, the volume of active ingredients in cannabis will be calculated from the flowers of marihuana plants, rather than from entire plants. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil said this will lower the threshold for growing marihuana plants. Under Czech law, people can freely grow marihuana plants with less than 0.3 percent contents of THC and other active ingredients. Addressing complaints by Czech cacti growers, the government also took mescaline off the list of illicit substances.
The Czech government approved on Wednesday a constitutional bill slightly modifying a section of the border with Austria due to anti-flood and water management measures. The legislation will mean the exchange of some land near the South Moravian towns of Břeclav and Lanžhot with neighbouring Austria. The Czech Republic and Austria agreed on the step on November 3 when the relevant treaty was signed. The government will submit it for ratification to the Czech Parliament. Under the treaty, the border will be now be delineated on the Dyje river. The 24-hectare area is administered by Břeclav and Lanžhot. The acreage to be swapped is the same in Austria and the Czech Republic.
Czech Airlines might have to cancel dozens of flights in the coming days due to a protest by its pilots, a spokesman for the pilots’ association said on Wednesday. The pilots will co-ordinately take time off to protest against a transfer of planes to a charter carrier affiliated with Czech Airlines, a move they described as the start of the firm’s liquidation. Czech Airlines is yet to determine which flights are likely to be cancelled.
More than 90,000 Czechs have signed a petition initiated by the opposition Social Democrats in protest against the government’s reform efforts, calling on the centre-right cabinet to step down, the opposition party leader Bohuslav Sobotka, said on Wednesday. Mr Sobotka said the petition, which was launched on November 1, was a great success; however, the Social Democrats will not try to topple the government in a vote of no-confidence, the opposition leader added.
A court in Prague on Wednesday ruled to re-open the case of businessmen Radovan Krejčíř and Miroslav Provod who had been sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. While Miroslav Provod served the sentence, Radovan Krejčíř fled the country and was later detained in Switzerland where he is now held in custody, pending extradition to the Czech Republic. The court’s ruling has not yet come into effect; if it does, it will render pointless the Czech authorities’ petition for Mr Krejčíř’s extradition.
Czechs last year consumed less meat, milk products, fruit and vegetables as well as alcohol and cigarettes, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Wednesday. While a surge in the consumption of potatoes and chicken rose in 2010, the average consumption of meat dropped by 3.5 percent to less than 76 kilos per person, while the consumption of fruit and vegetables decreased by 7 and two percent, respectively.
Zdeněk Miler, the creator of the famous Czech cartoon character Krteček, or Little Mole, died in a sanatorium outside Prague on Wednesday at the age of 90, the news website idnes.cz reported. Zdeňek Miler authored more than 70 animated short films during his long career, most of them featuring the popular character of the Little Mole. A native of Kladno, central Bohemia, Zdeněk Miler attended Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design before joining the Baťa shoe company in Zlín in 1941. He made his first film in 1948; the iconic Krteček first appeared in his 1957 short entitled How the Little Mole Got His Trousers.
Prague has ranked as Europe’s ninth most attractive capital for tourists, according to a new study by the consultancy firm Roland Berger released on Wednesday. The top three capitals are Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. The head of Roland Berger’s Czech branch, Constantin Kinský, said Prague lacked a clear tourism promotion strategy, and also needed to improve its infrastructure. Mr Kinský also noted that while Prague was rich in historical heritage, it lacked live culture that makes tourists come back.
The Golden Well restaurant in Prague’s Malá Strana has won the annual Grand Restaurant poll, compiled by the respected food critic Pavel Maurer, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Wednesday. Second and third in the new poll came the Alcron and La Rotonde, respectively, both parts of the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel in Prague. The only Czech restaurant with a Michelin star, Allegro in Prague’s Four Seasons Hotel, was not included in this year’s Grand Restaurant poll as it is temporarily closed for renovation.
The next few days will be mostly overcast, with fog and occasional drizzle. Daytime highs will range between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.