Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has warned of unpleasant numbers for the Czech economy in the coming months, indicating that October’s prognosis would be bad and November’s worse. Nonetheless, he said the government would be sticking to its current budget proposal in spite of what he confirmed looks like the beginning of a trend, as it remains unclear how the debt crisis in Europe will develop. He added that he does not believe the crisis should not affect Czech banks.
The Social Democratic Party has called for a public referendum on the government’s plan for property settlement with churches. The party plans to submit a constitutional law on the poll on Wednesday, as the appropriate legislation for general referendums does not exist. In pushing the proposal, the chairman of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, referred to the recent calls of Prime Minister Petr Nečas for a referendum on whether to adopt the euro. Mr Sobotka said the church restitution would be the largest shift of property and finances since the 1990s and that it should be approved or rejected by the citizenry. The new agreement provides that the state will pay the churches 59 billion crowns over thirty years and 56% of the property in question would be restituted in kind.
The anti-trust office has suspended a major tender involving the state forestry company Lesy ČR. The company will not be able to sign contracts with the winners until the suspension is lifted. The Office for the Protection of Economic Competition has provided no insights into its decision thus far, however such suspensions are issued only when there is reasonable doubt that the party commissioning the tender has done so properly. Lesy ČR responded to the order on Tuesday, saying that the tender was based on the same material that the office reviewed last year and found to be in order.
Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra has issued a manual to help soldiers and commanders counter extremism within their ranks. The publication has been in preparation for two years and describes the indicators of extreme right and left movements. The Czech Army has faced various problems with right-wing extremism in the past, namely with soldiers displaying Nazi symbols on their uniforms or on tattoos. In 2009, another soldier was found to have helped establish a militant racist group. The army says that it is carefully monitoring the number of extremists within their ranks, and that they are in decline.
A circuit court in Olomouc has acquitted four people in a football corruption case, in which the teams Sigma Olomouc and Bohemians Prague were implicated. The court found no evidence to uphold the charges of the state prosecutor, that an Olomouc goalkeeper and three representatives of Bohemians had arranged a thrown match. Goalkeeper Petr Drobisz was accused of offering 300,000 crowns to ensure victory for Olomouc in a league match two years ago. The defendants claimed that they were each trying to expose corruption in professional football. The charges were only brought several months after the fact, however, and the court found that all objective evidence had been erased in the meantime.
The governor of South Bohemia, Jiří Zimola, has sent a message to the government that the region would reconsider its support for the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant if local road works in the area were not finished. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the governor said that the region’s patience had expired and that the state must lend its clear support to important local highway projects. The words came in response to the fact that the D3 motorway and the IV railway were removed from the 32-billion-euro project for the development of trans-European transport networks for 2014 – 2020, which is supported by the European Commission. The Ministry of Transport told the daily Právo that the money for the roads would be there, but from a different fund.
The Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan’s Logar province is constructing a honey producing centre for local beekeepers. The centre is intended as a high-quality facility for purchasing and processing honey and wax and for quality control, as well as for breeding and training purposes. Beekeeping is an important and traditional source of income for families across Afghanistan, though modern technology for processing is virtually unknown.
Fraudster and organiser of anti-Roma protests Lukáš Kohout has been sentenced to ten months in prison for breaching the conditions of his probation. According to Czech Television, Mr Kohout neither visited his probation officer nor attempted to compensate for damages after being conditionally released from prison, where he was sent for fraud and theft. He said he is unaware of the charges. Kohout has organised several of the recent demonstrations in North Bohemia, some of which resulted in clashes with police. He is known primarily for posing as a political official in 2002 and ordering several flights abroad.
The statue of Jan Žižka that overlooks Prague from Vítkov hill was officially unveiled on Monday evening upon completion of its renovation. The monument behind the statue – newly the Museum of Modern Czechoslovak history – will be draped in the lights of the Czech tricolour for the next two nights. The cleaning and repair of Bohumil Kafka’s famous work, one of the largest equestrian statues in the world, took 18 months in total. Speaking at the ceremony, National Museum director Michal Lukeš said the reconstruction and the lighting should not only highlight the beauty of the statue but emphasize important moments of Czech history.
Czech hockey veteran Jaromír Jágr has scored his first goals since returning to the NHL. In Monday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Philadelphia Flyers’ forward scored in the 17th minute on a break away during his team’s power play, and added the second goal in the 56th minute, ensuring the Flyers’ 4:2 win. The 39-year-old Jágr also got an assist and fired six shots on the net. Jágr’s breakout performance in front of 20,000 spectators came in his eight game for the Flyers.
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