The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has expressed concern over the fact that the Czech Republic cancelled at short notice a working visit by an international anti-corruption team. An OECD team of experts in fighting corruption were expected to make a routine fact-finding mission to several Czech ministries and key institutions in the first half of October. The visit was cancelled by the Czech authorities citing technical problems. The OECD has asked for a new date as soon as possible. A recent report published by Transparency International suggests that the country has a serious problem fighting corruption. The Czech Republic's Corruption Perception Index has not improved in recent years and the country is believed to the third most corrupt state of the European Union.
Pavel Mokry was elected president of the Czech Football Federation in a vote in which he narrowly beat former international Ivan Hasek. Mokry, 51, previously vice-president of the federation, is a former player in the fourth division, who turned referee and then football official. Friday's vote was the third attempt at selecting a replacement for the former president Jan Obst.
The Czech born financial magnate Viktor Kozeny who is wanted for extensive fraud and bribery both in the Czech Republic and the United States will remain in custody in the Bahamas. A local court judge refused to release Kozeny on bail and set December 5th as the deadline by which the Bahamian Foreign Ministry is to submit evidence in support of a US request for Kozeny's extradition. The Czech born fugitive billionaire faces prosecution in the USA after squandering millions of dollars from American investors in Azeri privatization schemes. The Czech Republic failed in its efforts to get Kozeny extradited and tried in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Agriculture Ministry has stepped up bird-flu controls, introducing a series of new measures effective immediately. The ministry announced a ban on the sale of poultry and live birds at markets and exhibitions and has cancelled pigeon racing contests and budgerigar exhibitions across the country. Czech breeders have also been requested not to take part in any international events. There is a ban on outdoor breeding for poultry farms and small breeders.
The clash of wills between the president and prime minister over who should lead the health sector continues. President Klaus refused to appoint the Prime Minister's nominee David Rath on Thursday, citing conflict of interests since Mr. Rath heads of the main doctors' association, the Czech Medical Chamber. The Prime Minister first sought a way around the rejection, appointing Mr. Rath deputy health minister, then re-nominated him for the post of health minister on Friday, threatening legal action to push the appointment through. Both the prime minister and president have said they are ready to call in the Constitutional Court to resolve the dispute.
Some Czechs have started destroying the nests of migrating birds such as swallows and house martins for fear that they could spread the lethal strain of bird flu. The Czech Ornithology Society has attempted to curb the panic saying that these birds do not present a significant risk in transmitting the disease. Like other European states the Czech Republic has taken a series of preventive measures including a ban on imports of poultry from high risk countries, a ban on outdoor breeding for breeding farms and small breeders, as well as a ban on all exhibitions and sales fairs of birds and poultry.
Sixteen black buck antelopes died in a fire that broke out overnight at a zoo in the west Bohemian town of Pilsen. The fire killed the whole breeding herd, apart from one animal that had been kept in a separate sty. It was the biggest herd of black antelopes in the country. A spokesman for the zoo said the fire may have been caused by a fault in the heating system. Police are still investigating the cause.
The clash of wills between the Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and
President Vaclav Klaus over who should head the Czech Health Ministry
continues. President Klaus refused to appoint the Prime Minister's nominee
David Rath on Thursday, citing conflict of interest since Mr. Rath heads of
the main doctors' association, the Czech Medical Chamber.
The Prime Minister first sought a way around the rejection, appointing Mr.
Rath deputy health minister. On Friday he re-nominated him for the post of
health minister, threatening legal action to push the appointment through.
Meanwhile, the Czech Medical Chamber has said it will amend its statutes to allow Mr. Rath to suspend his chairmanship temporarily.
After a five year trial period, Czech public television, commercial TV Nova and Czech public radio have launched digital broadcasts. In the first phase of going digital, digital broadcasts should be accessible to an estimated 19 percent of Czechs, that's over one million people, on 13 percent of Czech territory. By next spring digital broadcasts should be available to viewers and listeners in Brno and Ostrava.
The Ceska Sporitelna bank has issued a report which foresees the country will not be able to adopt the Euro before 2013. It furthermore expects a rate of 25,50 crowns to the euro; the current rate stands at a little under 30 crowns. The Czech government has been working with a plan that sees the adoption of the single European currency three years earlier, by 2010 at the latest. The bank report also says Slovakia is the only member of the Visegrad Group, which also includes Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, whose planned date - 2009 - is realistic.