Police chief Petr Lessy has announced that he wants to put an end to what he calls the ‘artificial inflation’ of police salaries, the daily Právo writes on Saturday. He said that this year, he introduced a new policy under which the total amount of bonuses and other payments beyond the regular monthly wage a member of the police can receive in a year may not exceed 100,000 Czech crowns. Previously, such payments could reach up to several hundred, in some cases even a million crowns. Some high-ranking officers received inflated pensions as a consequence, since they continued to hold and be paid for administrative posts after they retired from active police duty. In some cases, pensions of several tens of thousands of crowns per month were paid out. This sum that widely exceeds the average pension of around 10,000 crowns.
The Czech army paid four times as much for its armored Pandur vehicles as
the Portuguese army, the daily Mladá front dnes writes on Saturday.
Quoting a contract between the Portuguese army and the Austrian firm
which provided the vehicles to both countries’ armed forces, the daily
writes that the armored personnel carriers purchased by the Portuguese
were extremely similar in their equipment to the 199 carriers that the
Czech army bought in 2009. The price of 135 million Czech crowns per
vehicle, which has been quoted by Czech politicians, is inflated, since
Portuguese only paid 35 million for each of the Pandur vehicles it
purchased, the daily writes. A Czech-Austrian police team launched an
investigation into possible corruption in the Pandur public tender awarded
by the Czech Defense Ministry a year ago.
In February, the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes suggested that members of the Ministry of Defense, which in 2009 had signed a 14.4 billion crown contract with the Austrian company Steyr to buy armored personnel carriers, had earmarked two to three percent of the tender as kickbacks for the two strongest political parties. The report caused a scandal and some politicians called for far-reaching reforms that would create greater transparency of public tenders.
According to some experts, President Václav Klaus is not fully abiding by the constitution, the daily Lidové noviny writes on Saturday. This week, Mr. Klaus decided not to endorse two bills: the government’s ‘minor pension reform bill’ and another piece of legislation concerning biofuels. Constitutional law expert Jan Kysely says that the president is legally bound to sign off on bills that have passed through the legislative process. He adds that both Mr. Klaus and former president Václav Havel have often expressed their opinions regarding certain bills rather than merely fulfilling the formal act of signing of on them. This, he says, is unconstituional and inappropriate, since it demonstrates the president’s disregard of the country’s constitution.
The American astronaut Andrew Feustel, who took a stuffed animal version of the famous Czech cartoon mole Krteček with him when he left on NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour mission in April, will be visiting the Czech Republic on July 29. Pavel Suchan of the Academy of Sciences, which invited the astronaut to the Czech Republic, said that a visit with the creator of the famous cartoon mole, Zděnek Miller, was also on Mr. Feustel’s agenda. Mr. Feustel chose the little mole as a mascot on his mission because of his indirect Czech roots. His wife’s mother comes from the south Moravian town of Znojmo and his wife owned many books featuring the mole when she was a child.
The 46th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will come to an end on Saturday night, when the winner of this year’s main competition is announced at the closing ceremony. In addition, the American actor John Turturro will be given the President’s Award. This year’s closing movies is Woody Allen’s comedy Midnight in Paris. In the festival’s non-official categories, the winners were already announced Saturday afternoon. The Slovak film Cigán, by director Martin Šulík, won the festival’s Best European film award, as well as the international film federation‘s Don Quijote award.
A man was killed in a car crash in Prague on Saturday. The accident occurred when two cars collided head-on in the early hours of Saturday morning, a police spokeswoman said. Paramedics attempted to rescue one of the drivers, who had been trapped inside his car, but the man had been killed by the impact of the accident. Another two persons were injured in the accident and are being treated at hospital.
A boarding-house in the village of Oskava, in the Moravian Olomouc region, burned down early on Saturday morning. The wooden construction was empty when the fire started spreading, and no one was injured. However, the fire caused damages of over 10 million Czech crowns. Fire-fighters who arrived at the scene were not able to extinguish the fire that had spread quickly and destroyed the building. The family-owned boarding house was built 3 years ago and cost 14 million crowns to construct. Police are investigating the cause of the fire.
The new Czech ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovič, has offered his credentials to the American president and may now assume his duties. Mr Gandalovič met with President Obama at the White House on Thursday, roughly a month after arriving in the United States. The issues likely to dominate his agenda in the US are a lucrative tender for further construction on the Temelín nuclear power plant and economic and scientific collaboration between the countries. Petr Gandalovič is a former government minister and former deputy chairman of the centre-right Civic Democratic Party. He also served as Consul General of the Czech Republic in New York between 1997 and 2002.
A Czech soldier, who was shot during an attack on the Czech army base in Afghanistan’s Vardak province on Wednesday, has been transported back to the Czech Republic for treatment. He arrived on Thursday and remains in very serious condition. He and two other men who had been injured in Afghanistan in late June will be treated in Prague’s Central Military Hospital. Several Czech soldiers have been injured in Afghanistan in the last month, in those cases due to mines and IEDs. To date, four Czech soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, most recently in late May.
President Václav Klaus, after deciding not to endorse the government’s ‘minor pension reform bill’, has withheld his signature from a second piece of legislation, this time covering biofuels. The bill will require sellers to have certification proving that the bio component added to fuel meets ecological criteria. The certification is required by the European Union and new certificates are to be issued annually. In a letter to the chairwoman of the lower house, Mr Klaus expressed dismay over the new regulations within the Czech legal system, suggesting further debate was needed; the president is a vocal critic of ‘Green politics’, including environmentalists' stance on global warming. While the president criticised the law, he did not veto it, so it will come into effect.
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