Minister of Defense Martin Barták on Monday met with Prime Minister Jan
Fischer and other members of the government to discuss a scandal over
alleged corruption in his ministry. The scandal involves a 14.4 billion
crown contract to buy armored personnel carriers for the Czech army that
was given to the Austrian company Steyr. Mladá fronta Dnes reported last
week that the company Steyr had hired lobbyist Jan Vlček on the explicit
promise that he would deliver meetings with particular Czech politicians
and senior military figures to help the company win the tender.
Mr. Barták, who has strongly denied allegations of corruption, said at a press conference later that the prime minister had welcomed the information he was given and deemed it factual.
Supporters of the far-right Workers’ Party, which was banned by a court ruling last week, are planning to protest against a Communist Party gathering in the North Bohemian town of Teplice on Wednesday. Former Workers’ Party member Petr Kotáb told the Czech news agency ČTK that he believes the Communist Party planned this February event to commemorate its seizure of power in Czechoslovakia in February 1948. The head of the Communist Party’s local branch denied the allegation saying the party holds similar events three times a year. Local police are preparing for a possible confrontation.
Czech speed skater Martína Sáblíková earned bronze in the 1500 meters race on Sunday at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. This is the second medal that the Czech athlete has won, after last Sunday’s gold in the 3000 meters. The 22-year-old Czech was sent to compete in the race by her trainer Petr Novák who believed that she would be successful in it. Sáblíková delivered the fastest closing lap of all competing athletes, earning two seconds over runner-up Margot Boer, who represented the Netherlands. Sáblíková told journalists after the race that she was shocked to have won the middle distance race. The medal is a big surprise, given that the Czech speed skater was competing against athletes whose specialty is the single distance.
Author and journalist Zdena Vrýbová died on Sunday night aged 75 years. The popular writer published a number of books on psychological, scientific and health issues. Mrs. Vrýbová was also the author of the humorous dog novel Robin, a book that ranks in the top hundred most popular books in the Czech Republic. She intentionally avoided writing about political topics under the communist regime After the Velvet Revolution, Mrs. Vrýbová published books that focused on debated issues in Czech society.
A new survey published by the European Commission’s Eurobarometer on Monday suggests that Czechs and Slovaks are amongst Europe’s biggest consumers of soda beverages. In the survey, 31 percent of Czechs said they often consumed lemonades or colas, compared to an EU average of only 19 percent. Bulgaria tops the list with 40 percent. The survey also found that Czechs have more daily meals than other nations in the EU, consuming on average seven meals per day as opposed to the EU average of about five meals a day.
German rapper Bushido has announced a concert in Prague’s Lucerna Music Bar, scheduled to take place on April 21. The 32-year-old rapper has been the subject of many scandals, such as a violent dispute with a fan in Austria and his lyrics are by some considered sexist. Bushido has also collaborated with Czech pop icon Karel Gott on his single “Für immer jung“ or “Forever Young” in English. Gott may appear at the concert to perform the song live together with the German rapper. Gott, who is well-known in Germany for the titles song to a popular children’s cartoon, also appears in Bushido’s film “Zeiten Ändern Dich“ or “Time changes you.”
Energy supplier RWE announced on Monday that its gas prices in the Czech Republic were going to increase in the spring. In January 2010, the company expanded its services in the country to include electricity. To date, electricity from RWE is only available for companies, but the energy and gas supplier plans to soon offer it to households as well. According to the company’s CEO, RWE is planning to double its share of the Czech electricity market over the next few years. RWE is one of the biggest energy companies in Europe and the main supplier of gas to Czech households.
On Monday, five out of eleven flights scheduled from Prague’s Ruzyně airport to Germany were cancelled due to a strike by Lufthansa pilots. Lufthansa connections to the German hub airport of Frankfurt are the most affected by the strike. A spokeswoman for Prague airport told the Czech news agency ČTK that at Ruzyne Airport things were running smoothly despite the cancellations. The German pilot strike has lead to an increase of passengers on competitors’ planes. Czech Airlines alone have seen hundreds of new passengers, with reservations for flights to Germany doubled for this week.
Head of the Civic Democrats and former prime minister Mirek Topolánek was officially divorced from his ex-wife Pavla Patáková by a Prague court on Monday. The two former spouses came to a mutual divorce agreement. Mr. Topolánek told journalists that the divorce had taken place in a civil and dignified manner and that the two were able to agree on everything from property to custody questions. The couple has three children; the youngest son is seven years old. Mr. Topolánek announced his divorce last year before Christmas. He had been living with his new partner, the deputy chairwoman of the Chamber of Deputies Lucie Talmanová, since 2007.
On Monday, a second baby box was installed in Prague. The baby box provides a place where mothers can safely put newly born babies that they see themselves unwilling or unable to care for. The newest one is located at the Prague 2 town hall. It is the first in the entire Czech Republic located outside of a hospital. Prague’s first baby box was installed in 2005. Since then, 15 babies have been placed in it - to date the highest number at any location in the country. The new baby box site will be functional from March 8.