The speaker of the Czech Parliament’s lower house, Social Democrat Miloslav Vlček, stepped down on Thursday over breaching money laundering laws. Mr Vlček admitted he had returned a 1.1 million crown loan to his assistant in 2005 in cash which was illegal as Czech legislation only permits bank transfers of financial sums higher than 500,000 crowns. He came under pressure of his own party that convened on Thursday an extraordinary session of the party leadership. Miloslav Vlček also stepped down as MP and the leader of the Social Democrat ballot in the Olomouc region for May’s general election.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement has accused the Czech Republic of helping
Israel's intelligence in running its agents inside Lebanon, the daily
Haaretz reported on Wednesday quoting Lebanese press. The Czech embassy in
Beirut reportedly granted entry visa in 2008 to an agent, Abu Jureish, who
was then trained in the Czech Republic. Last year, he was one of 20
Lebanese nationals arrested on charges of spying for Israel.
The Czech Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the issue. The Czech Republic is considered one of Israel’s closest allies within the European Union; the two countries closely cooperate in military, scientific and other areas.
The police have accused two people, a woman and her son, of attempted
murder in connection with March’s arson attack against a Romany family in
the north-eastern city of Ostrava, Czech TV said on Thursday. A police
spokeswoman said five people had been detained but three were later
released for lack of evidence. According to local inhabitants the accused
were neighbours of the attacked family.
In March, a bottle of flammable liquid was thrown into a Romany family’s house where a 13-year-old girl managed to put out the fire, preventing any serious damage. The most vicious of these attacks, which took place in Vítkov last year, left a two-year old girl injured and scarred for life.
Prague’s Ruzyně airport resumed regular air traffic on Thursday, for the first time since Friday’s closure of Czech air space due to the eruption of an Icelandic volcano. A spokeswoman for the airport said out of 440 flights, only three– to Helsinki and Munich – had to be cancelled on Thursday, which routinely happens even without extraordinary circumstances. Air carriers had to cancel more than 1660 flights since Friday. Traffic at Ruzyně was partially restored on Monday while two days later it serviced 80 percent of regular flights. The airport authorities estimated daily losses at 12 million crowns, or more than 630,000 US dollars.
Czech President Václav Klaus told the Czech weekly Euro on Thursday that the Eurozone project had failed. The single European currency did not bring the desired effect by failing to accelerate economic growth. Mr Klaus said a lack of homogeneity in the Eurozone became obvious with the onset of the economic crisis. However, the Czech head of state said he believed that the Eurozone will continue to exist at extremely high costs for all its member states and other EU countries. The Czech Republic should not hurry with the adoption of the euro, Václav Klaus added.
Czech President Václav Klaus will attend the celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the victory in Second World War in Moscow on May 9, the daily Právo reported on Thursday, citing a Kremlin advisor. However, the Czech president’s spokesman, Radim Ochvat, has not confirmed Mr Klaus’ journey. According to the Kremlin, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also attend the event.
Representatives of the Czech government, employers and trade unions agreed on Thursday on 13 steps that should help the country’s economy recover from the crisis. These include the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant, reconstruction of the coal-powered plant in Prunéřov, the construction of weirs on the Labe River as well as a review of government expenditures. Prime Minister Jan Fischer said these measures should re-initiate economic growth, improve the corporate environment in the country and lay the ground for the completion of transport and industrial infrastructures. Representatives of all three branches will meet again in early June to evaluate the implementation of the measures.
The remains of Czech-born cardinal and Jesuit theologian Tomáš Špidlík, who died in Rome on Friday at the age of 90, have arrived in Olomouc. The cardinal’s remains were transported to the Czech Republic after a requiem mass was held for him at the Vatican on Tuesday. His remains will placed in the crypt of Olomouc’s St Wenceslas Cathedral on Wednesday and will remain there until next week when Tomáš Špidlík will be buried at nearby Velehrad, a popular pilgrimage destination for Czech Roman Catholics.
The Czech anti-corruption police is to look into a 1.1 billion crown public contract to build a new campus of Brno’s Technical University, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Thursday. The paper said an employee of the winning firm, OHS-ŽS, participated in the preparation of the competition. The Czech Finance Ministry said that EU funds, that were to cover the building costs, were going to be withheld until the dubious contract is reviewed. The chair of the construction firm’s board of directors, Michal Štefl, is also a member of the university board of trustees.
About 200 Czech children die of accidents each year and another 3,000 suffer permanent disabilities, Jan Kostner from the Czech NGO Childhood without Accidents told reporters on Thursday. The death rate is double in comparison to other developed countries. The NGO said most of these accidents can be prevented; in 1997, the Czech Republic ranked 22nd with more than 490 accident-related children deaths, while in 1998, around 180 children died of accidents, and the country ranked 8th. Mr Kostner said the accident-related death rated could further be lowered by prevention programmes. The major Czech health insurer, VZP, will this year spend some 15 million crowns on such campaigns.