Czech Environment Minister Jan Dusík stepped down on Thursday over a conflict with the energy giant ČEZ. The Environment Ministry was due to issue an environmental impact assessment concerning the modernisation of the ČEZ-run coal power plant Prunéřov. However, a study commissioned by the ministry and released on Thursday showed that ČEZ was not going to use the best available technology. Mr Dusík told a news conference that his ministry refused to issue the permits, and was going to ask the energy producer to review the project. But Prime Minister Jan Fischer told him to allow ČEZ to go ahead with the existing project. Minister Jan Dusík, who was nominated for the post by the Greens, then decided to step down.
The police in Ostrava re-qualified on Thursday a recent firebomb attack on
a local Romany family as attempted murder. The crime was originally
investigated as a threat to public safety. The offenders will now face up
to 15 years in prison. The police said the arson attack was re-qualified
over suspicions it may have been racially motivated. The police have also
set up a special unit to investigate the case, composed of specialists who
worked on similar cases in the past.
The attack took place in Ostrava on Saturday when a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the home a local Romany family. The bottle landed in the bedroom of a 14 year old girl who was able to extinguish the burning bottle before it caused further damage. In April of last year, a Romany family in the Moravian town of Vítkov was victim of a racially motivated arson attack, and another such incident took place in September in Mikulov, southern Moravia.
The European Commission has criticized the Czech Republic for insufficient safety checks on aircraft. The commission said on Thursday that the Czech Republic and Greece were the only EU countries that have failed to incorporate EU laws concerning safety checks on airplanes into their legislation. The EU directive, covering aircraft inspections, possible measures for unsafe aircraft and standards for the training and qualification of inspectors, should have entered Czech law by October 2008. However, the Czech Republic only implemented parts of the EU directive. The Czech Republic now has two months to comply with the request; the commission warned that if Prague fails to do so, it will file a complaint with the European Court of Justice.
The Czech minister for European affairs, Juraj Chmiel, has outlined
country’s priorities for the upcoming EU summit that should deal with the
bloc’s economic strategy entitled Europe 2020. Speaking at the Senate on
Thursday, Mr Chmiel said these priorities included employment, qualitative
economic growth and competitiveness. Minister Chmiel also criticized the
European Commission for the lack of emphasis on structural reform, and for
not taking into account the national specifics of individual EU member
The European Union is set to debate the Europe 2020 strategy document at a summit in Brussels next week. It proposes a number of goals the EU should meet in ten years’ time. Some Czech senators, including the former deputy prime minister for European affairs Alexandr Vondra, criticized the proposal on Thursday for being too vague and for not providing concrete ways of meeting its targets.
The Czech Defence Ministry signed on Thursday two arms contracts worth over 1.23 billion crowns, or nearly 66 million US dollars. One of the deals is for the delivery of 8,000 ČZ 805 assault rifles for the Czech army that will be supplied by the Czech arms producer, Česká Zbrojovka/Meopta. The new rifles will replace the obsolete Vz. 58 that have been used for more than 50 years. The ministry also bought 5,500 semi-automatic pistols ČZ 75 and nearly 600 Škorpion sub-machine guns from the same producer that should be delivered between 2010 and 2011.
The Czech Medical Chamber unanimously apologized on Thursday for a decree
adopted in October 1938 that banned Jews from working in the medical
professions. A spokesman for the doctors’ group said the decree was
anti-Semitic and discriminatory. Members of the Czech Jewish community
welcomed the motion, but noted that the apology comes from people who did
In October 1938, just days after the adoption of the Munich Agreement, associations of Czech doctors, lawyers and engineers called on the government to limit the numbers of Jews in these professions. The Czech Bar Association issued an official apology last year.
One in ten pubs in the Czech Republic has been forced to close during the last year, the president of the Czech Association of Hotels and Restaurants, Pavel Hlinka, told Thursday’s edition of Lidové noviny. The closures are blamed on the financial crisis and increased taxes. Meanwhile, the head of brewers’ group the Czech Beer and Malt Association, Jan Veselý, told the newspaper that its members expect a 4.5 percent fall in sales in 2009 to be repeated this year.
Czech police inspectors investigated 264 police officers suspected of committing criminal acts in 2009, which was 4.2 percent more than in the previous year, a spokeswoman for the force said on Thursday. Most of the crimes committed by police officers last year included abuse of authority, traffic crimes, fraud and corruption. State prosecutors filed charges against 94 police officers in 2009.
The One World festival of human rights documentaries concluded in
Prague’s Světozor cinema on Thursday with awards presented to the
winning films. The Best Film Award will go to the British-Cambodian
documentary Enemies of the People, which follows the journalist Thet
Sambath as he tracks down former members of the Khmer Rouge in his native
Cambodia. The Polish film Chemo about patients at a Warsaw oncology clinic
will receive the Best Director Award. The Rudolf Vrba Award for the best
film in the Right to Know category and the Václav Havel Special Award for
films that uniquely contribute to the defence of human rights will both go
to the Indian documentary The Sun behind the Clouds about the Chinese
occupation of Tibet.
The One World festival was held in Prague between March 10 and 18. More than 32,000 people saw at least one of over 100 films screened at the festival, which will now move to some 30 cities and towns around the Czech Republic.
Mission from the Kontinental Hockey League visited the city of Hradec Králové, eastern Bohemia, on Thursday to inspect the local hockey arena. Although no official report has been released, vice president of the KHL’s executive committee Vladimir Shalayev said he saw no reasons why KHL games could be played at the local arena. The hockey club Lev Hradec Králové applied to join the KHL, starting with the next season. If successful, it would be the first Czech hockey club to join the competition, considered to be strongest hockey league in Europe.