Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek confirmed on Monday that neither Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg nor Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek were going to leave his government over the issue of Mr Čunek’s personal finances. An audit of Minister Čunek’s finances, commissioned by Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg and carried out by the US investigation agency Kroll, did not substantiate charges of alleged corruption, PM Topolánek said. Jiří Čunek was accused of taking bribes in 2007. His case was later shelved for lack of evidence by the prosecution but doubts over the case remained and made Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg commission a private probe into his finances.
Russia announced on Monday that a sharp cut in deliveries of crude oil for the Czech Republic was caused by technical problems. Russian trade envoy to Prague Grigori Sarishvili told Czech Trade and Industry Minister Martin Říman that the decrease in deliveries of crude oil for the Czech Republic happened because of problems with oil extraction as well as of changes to the structure of Russian oil companies, rather than by a political decision in retaliation for last week’s signing of a Czech-American treaty on positioning a US tracking radar base on Czech territory.
Several former Czech dissidents and politicians expressed their sympathies over the death of Poland’s Bronislaw Geremek, an anticommunist dissident and one of the founders of the Solidarity movement, who died in a car crash on Sunday. Former Czech President Václav Havel said that “Geremek’s death is not only a loss for Poland, but for all of us who strive for a free and decent world”. Former Czech dissident and later the first post-communist foreign minister of Czechoslovakia Jiří Dienstbier said that Mr Geremek was “a great personality who understood very well what needed to be done to rid Poland of various burdens of its nationalist past and to become a prominent and active member of the European family”. Czech European Affairs Minister Alexander Vondra said he was profoundly shaken by Mr Geremek’s death and that it was a great loss for Europe.
A poll by the Eurobarometer agency suggested on Monday that most Czechs don’t think their voice is heard in the European Union. According to the poll, 82 percent of Czechs are generally satisfied with their lives, which is five percent more than the EU average. Some 39 percent of Czechs are concerned about health care, while 38 percent about inflation and rising prices of goods. Fifty-three percent of Czechs also favour the adoption of euro in the country. While satisfaction of Czechs with their lives has been stable in the last three years, the number of people who consider unemployment a serious problem dropped from 54 percent in 2004 to the current 12.
The prices of petrol and diesel have dropped slightly in the past week, the Czech petrol seller CCS said on Monday. While the average price of petrol dropped by 6 hallers to 32.54 crowns, or 2.21 US dollars, per litre in the Czech Republic, the average price of diesel decreased by 5 hallers to 34.85, or 2.38 US dollars, crowns per litre. Analysts cite the strengthening crown against the US dollar as the main factor behind the drop, and expect fuel prices to keep decreasing in the coming weeks.
Creamfields Central Europe, an open air dance music festival that took place near Břeclav, South Moravia over the weekend, was hit by a sudden storm on Saturday night. The two main stages collapsed and a DJ suffered light injuries as a result. The storm, which lasted for some two hours, made the majority of the 7,000 or so visitors leave the venue and also marred many of the performances. The organizers said they lost millions of crowns in consequence.
A strike by Hungarian railway workers which began at midnight on Sunday has affected several trains passing through the Czech Republic. Most trains with destinations in Hungary will terminate in Slovakia, a spokesperson for Czech Railways said on Monday, while Czech-bound trains leaving from Hungary will be dispatched from Slovakia. It is not clear when the Hungarian railway strike will end.
The police are still looking into the case of former nurse Petr Zelenka, who was found guilty of seven murders and sentenced to life in prison earlier this year, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday. The police are trying to establish whether he killed or attempted to kill more patients at a hospital in Havlíčkův Brod, eastern Bohemia, by giving them lethal doses of a blood-thinning drug.
A probe into Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek’s private finances has revealed no irregularities, according to Green Party leader Martin Bursík. Mr. Bursík made the statement on Czech Television on Sunday, amidst growing speculation as to the audit’s outcome. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who commissioned the investigation by the US private detective agency Kroll met with Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and Green Party leader Martin Bursík late on Saturday to inform them about its outcome. Mr. Bursík said during a televised debate on Sunday that its results provided no reason to demand Mr. Čunek’s dismissal or for the Greens to quit the government. Jiří Čunek was accused of bribery in the spring of 2007 and although his prosecution was later halted for lack of evidence, he never quite managed to clear his name. There were fears that if the audit produced evidence of corruption it could lead to a major government crisis. Mr. Čunek himself has been unavailable for comment.
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