Anti-trust officials from the European Commission have carried out surprise inspections at energy giant ČEZ and other power companies in the Czech Republic. The raids took place as part of an investigation into suspected anti-competitive behaviour, the European Commission said on Tuesday. It said it was looking into whether ČEZ had worked to block competitors in order to boost its own position as the country’s dominant wholesale power supplier, either acting alone or in conjunction with other firms. Counterparts from the Czech anti-trust body took part in the raids alongside European Commission officials.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation is to begin an inquiry into the privatisation of a Czech bank, the news website aktualne.cz reported. The investigation into the year 2000 sale of Česká spořitelna to Austria’s Erste Bank has been sparked by allegations made by two former executives at the latter institution. The two, who were fired by Erste this year, say the bank paid bribes to local politicians and officials when buying banks in the central and eastern Europe region. They told aktualne.cz that in the Czech Republic the bribery concerned leading politicians. The former bank officials are planning to file lawsuits against Erste in the US. For its part, the Austrian bank has rejected the allegations, while former ministers who served under then Czech prime minister Miloš Zeman have also denied any wrongdoing.
Six people were injured when a tram crashed into a bus on Prague’s Náměstí Míru square on Tuesday morning. A spokesperson for the city’s emergency services said the passengers affected had mainly suffered bruising in the accident, which occurred at a stop shared by trams and buses at around 8.30. Three people were taken to hospital, none of them with life-threatening injuries.
Initial investigations suggest the shooting of a Czech soldier in Kosovo was the result of a colleague’s inability to handle his gun correctly, a Czech army spokesperson said on Tuesday. A special commission sent to Kosovo to investigate the incident, which occurred on Saturday, has just returned to the Czech Republic. Two superior officers of the soldier suspected of being responsible for the shooting have been recalled to Prague. The victim is in a stable condition in hospital. An officer in the KFOR mission who caused a car crash on Sunday has also returned to the Czech Republic.
If reforms are not carried out next year, the state will have to bail out the Czech healthcare system in 2011, says the head of the country’s biggest insurer VZP. Pavel Horák told Tuesday’s edition of Hospodařské noviny that otherwise there was a danger limits would have to be placed on free health care. VZP is set to end this year with a deficit of CZK six to eight billion, a shortfall that is likely to be repeated at the end of 2010.
Some 128 new cases of HIV have been recorded in the Czech Republic since the beginning of this year, the state health care institute said on Tuesday. The total number known to be infected now stands at 1,315. However, the Czech News Agency reported that the real number of residents with HIV could be 10 times as high. Since 1986 152 people have died of AIDS in the Czech Republic.
Chef Tomáš Vaníček of Prague’s InterContinental hotel came first in a national bread dumpling making contest on Monday evening. The event was hosted by the InterContinental and was being held for the third time. Among the judges was former foreign minister Jiří Dienstbier, who is himself a keen cook. Mr Dienstbier said increasing numbers of Czechs were aware of the dumpling competition, which he joked was making more headlines than the congresses of political parties.
Slavia Prague football club are in talks with Spartak Moscow over a deal which could see Slavia captain Marek Suchý join the Russian side on a one-year loan deal. However, a representative of Spartak denied media reports that they would pay one million euros for the services of the 21-year-old defender for a 12-month period.
The Czech football league leaders Teplice, who have been hit by a possible outbreak of swine flu, were beaten 6:2 by Sigma Olomouc on Monday evening, in the last game of the 15th round. One Teplice player is confirmed as having the H1N1 virus while another is suspected of having the illness and others have reportedly displayed flu symptoms. The club had an appeal to postpone the game turned down by the Czech football association, who cited UEFA guidelines.
Doctors across the Czech Republic began to vaccinate nationwide against
swine flu on Monday. The government has around 95,000 doses of vaccine
earmarked for doctors to use on high risk and priority groups such as the
chronically sick and health workers. The State Institute for Drug Control
said on Monday that a single dose of the vaccine could also be given to
children over 10.
Chief hygiene officer Michael Vít has said the virus has changed little since April so the vaccine has a high chance of being effective. Some doctors have called for the government to give additional legal safeguards that they will not be liable for prosecution if patients suffer severe side effects from the vaccine.
Swine flu is believed to have claimed its fourth victim in the Czech Republic on Sunday. Around 1.0 million Czechs should be vaccinated against swine flu with around 2.5 million receiving the flu anti-virus.