The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, has expressed concern about the high number of new ministry officials who came from the largest private Czech security firm, ABL. The agency was until recently owned by Transport Minister Vít Bárta, a founder of Public Affairs, one of the coalition parties of the centre-right cabinet. The Public Affairs party now controls the ministries of interior, transport, education and regional development; four deputy ministers had previously worked for ABL. Mr Nečas told Czech TV on Sunday the number of these officials was unusual, but that his coalition partner, Public Affairs, assured him that no conflict of interest would occur. The prime minister said he would “vigorously intervene”, should such a conflict appear.
In related news, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told Czech TV on Sunday that a new budget supervisory body would be established by the end of September. The National Budget Council should have seven to eight members, and will assess the impact of individual bills on the state budget. Mr Nečas said the new body would be non-political, and could also include a representative of the opposition Social Democrats, an idea rejected by Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka. Prime Minister Nečas also said he would revive the government’s consulting economic board, known as NERV, which was first set up last year by former PM Mirek Topolánek.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the Austrian daily Die Presse on Sunday that the post-war Beneš decrees, which legalized the expulsion of around three million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, could not be abolished. Mr Schwarzenberg admitted however the decrees were a breach of human rights, but could not be lifted retroactively. The Czech foreign minister also said it was not necessary for the Czech Parliament to pass a resolution about the decrees as a symbol of reconciliation but that the Czech society was engaged in a public debate about sensitive issues in recent Czech history.
Storms, torrential rain and strong winds that hit the Czech Republic over
the weekend have swollen rivers and caused local flooding across the
country. Some two thousand households in western Bohemia remain without
electricity supplies after falling trees broke transmission lines. In
southern Moravia, fire brigades pumped rainwater from some 50 houses. Heavy
rain has swollen rivers in several places around the country, with flood
alerts declared in several parts of southern Moravia, eastern Bohemia and
other regions. Temperatures dropped by around 10 degrees Celsius over the
A night storm interrupted the music festival Colours of Ostrava on Saturday night when organizers turned off electricity for an hour for safety reasons. The performance by the headliners, the Irish band The Cranberries, was delayed by an hour, while the show of UK’s Brendan Perry was cancelled.
The number of counterfeit banknotes intercepted by the Czech National Bank doubled over the first six months of this year, according to a report by the bank released on Sunday. The central bank intercepted over 3660 counterfeit and altered banknotes, compared to around 1700 forged legal tenders intercepted in the same period last year. Most counterfeit banknotes were Czech crowns, followed by the dollar and the euro. The central bank also registered an increase in the number of imitations that are used in advertising, as film props or for instruction purposes.
Speeding in built-up areas is the most common traffic violation by Czech drivers, accounting for 25 percent of all traffic violations, according to a report by the Czech Interior Ministry released on Sunday. It is followed by disrespecting traffic signs and failure to fasten seat belts or wear helmets. Other frequent violations include driving without headlights on and making phone calls while driving. Since July 2006, where a points system was introduced in the Czech Republic, some 26,000 drivers lost their licences because of traffic violations. Most drivers who scored 12 or more points are 21-years-old and younger.
Czech tennis player Radek Štěpánek, the world’s number 29, married former Czech player, Nicole Vaidišová in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague on Saturday. Štěpánek, who is 31, and Vadišová, 21, said they originally planned to get married in Florida, where they live, but then decided for Prague which they feel to be their real home. The Catholic service, attended by several dozen guests including hockey star Jaromír Jágr, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech and others, was followed by a wedding reception in Prague Castle gardens. The newlywed couple then left for a brief honeymoon in Greece.
Defending champions Sparta Prague lost to newcomers Hradec Králové in the first round of the top Czech football division on Saturday. Visitors Sparta conceded an early goal and only managed to equalize in the 55th minute. The hosts Hradec Králové were defending throughout much of the second half but surprisingly took a 2:1 with half an hour to go. The goal upset the title holders who were unable to come back; the game was Sparta’s first defeat in 15 months, and only third season opening loss in 17 years.
Agnes Szavay from Hunagry beat Czech Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová 6:2, 1:6 and 6:2 in the final of ECM Prague open to clinch her second WTA title in a row. The eighth-seeded Czech played the first WTA final in her career. After the game, the 24-year-old Záhlavová-Strýcová said she played great throughout the tournament, and that she was sorry she did not do that well in the final.
The region of Western Bohemia was hit by a strong windstorm in the early hours of Saturday that broke trees and left some 4,000 households without electricity, the authorities said. One person was killed by a falling tree near Karlovy Vary on Saturday afternoon. The energy producer ČEZ said around half of its customers in the area were cut off, and declared state of emergency in three districts. Falling trees also obstructed roads and railways. The authorities said that several houses were flooded by rainwater but no one was injured in the storm.