Deputy chair of the junior coalition party Public Affairs, Jaroslav Škárka, allegedly admitted having received payments from party officials in return for loyalty and keeping silent on matters of financing, the weekly Respekt reported on Monday. Mr Škárka has denied the report, and said he was purposefully not telling the truth during the interview that also has him stating that he knows of party sponsors that only exist on paper. Leading party figures called the allegation shocking and absurd; party chair and interior minister has filed a lawsuit in connection with the case, and the party’s group of deputies is set to discuss the issue at its session on Thursday
More than 26,000 officers out of the 43,000-strong police force have singed a petition calling on the country’s interior minister, Radek John, to step down, police trade unions said on Monday. Around 4,500 fire fighters and civilian employees of the police force also signed the petition; the signatories blame Mr John for a bigger drop in their salaries than originally planned. In January, salaries in the police force were expected to decrease by 10 percent as a result of the government’s austerity package; however, the unions claim the decrease was bigger. Interior Minister Radek John said an average salary in the force only decreased by 7.7 percent. Police trades union leaders are set to hand the petition to Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Tuesday.
The Czech education minister, Josef Dobeš, of the Public Affairs party, has appointed the controversial political figure Ladislav Bátora his economic advisor. Mr Dobeš told reporters on Monday that his new advisor’s first task would be to audit the ministry’s real estate property. Ladislav Bátora, who in 2006 ran for a seat in the lower house on the ballot of the extremist National Party, was originally considered for the position of deputy education ministry. But Prime Minister Nečas rejected the idea although President Václav Klaus came out strongly in Mr Bátora’s support.
The Education Ministry is planning to start testing new contracts between schools and parents in the autumn of this year, minister Josef Dobeš told reporters on Monday. The new, UK-inspired contracts should make parents more responsible for their children’s behaviour at school, Mr Dobeš said, adding that children’s conduct at school became one of the most pressing issues. The contracts should also allow teachers to temporarily confiscate pupils’ mobile phones, expel troublesome students from the class, and send them to the school psychologist for counselling.
For the first time in 17 years, more than 50 percent of Czechs trust the army, police and courts, according to a survey by the CVVM agency released on Monday. More than half of those polled also said they trusted the country’s media, while two thirds of them expressed trust in the public broadcaster, Czech Radio. Less than 50 percent of Czechs who took part in the survey trust banks, NGOs and trades unions, while only around 25 percent trust the country’s churches. Over 1300 Czechs took part in the poll that was carried out in March.
For the second consecutive year, Czech nationals have topped the list of foreigners smuggling drugs to the German state of Bavaria, according to statistics by the Bavarian Interior Ministry released on Monday. Last year, Bavaria’s police and security forces investigated 289 Czechs on suspicion of drug trafficking and trading. Their number dropped slightly compared to the previous year but was still the highest of all foreign nationals. Overall, Bavarian authorities investigated over 1,900 Czechs last year on suspicion of crime.
The share of Czech households that own computers rose to 59 percent last year, the Czech Statistical Office reported on Monday. Two years ago, less than half of household in the Czech Republic had one or more computers. Around 56 percent of them are also connected to the internet, compared to 42 percent in 2008. However, the Czech Republic lags behind the EU average of 74 percent of households with computers, and 70 percent of household with internet connections.
Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa unveiled on Monday a plan to curb pollution in the Ostrava region, in the north of the country. The plan combines measures to limit emissions from industry, transportation, private stoves and furnaces as well as pollution from neighbouring Poland. Mr Chalupa, who failed to mention any details of the plan, said that if implemented correctly, it could help improve the environment before the start of the next heating seasons. The ministry has also extended the period during which local firms and municipalities in the region can apply for grants to carry out environmental projects.
Former Czech president Václav Havel’s sister-in-law, Dagmar Havlová, has won a legal case over ownership of half of Prague’s Lucerna Palace. A court in Prague excluded on Monday the property from the bankruptcy estate of the firm Chemapol Reality. The Lucerna Palace, built between 1907 and 1921, was returned to the brothers Václav and Ivan Havel in 1992. Ivan Havel gave his part of the building to his wife, Dagmar; Václav Havel sold his to the Chemapol firm in 1997 for 200 million crowns. However, the firm later sold the property to Dagmar Havlová at a lower price. After Chemapol went bankrupt in 1999, the authorities claimed the firm should have never sold its part of the palace, a view rejected on Monday by the Prague Municipal Court.
The hockey extraliga final begins on Monday with Třinec pitted against Vítkovice. Třinec, which was the best team during the regular season, defeated Slavia in the seventh game of the semifinal series, will host Vítkovice which finished third in the regular season and overcame reigning champions Pardubice in the semis. The best-of-seven final series will see a regional derby between two neighbouring clubs. Třinec, which is slightly favoured by bookmakers, has never won the title before, while Vítkovice won the top Czechoslovak division in 1953 and 1981.
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