The Czech government has rejected an opposition call for a parliamentary investigation into alleged corruption linked to purchases by the Ministry of Defence. A Czech newspaper this week reported that a former head of Nato had warned Czech officials that the country risked tarnishing its reputation over the background to the purchase of armoured personnel carriers, while the police are currently investigating a former deputy defence minister over alleged bribe-taking linked to a contract for mortars. MP Petr Gadzík of coalition party TOP 09 told reporters that the opposition Social Democrats’ call for an investigation was motivated by upcoming Senate and local elections.
Petr Nečas is beginning his first visit to Brussels since being appointed Czech prime minister at the end of June. On Wednesday evening Mr Nečas will hold talks with the president of the European Commission, Jose Barroso, and the commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn. During a three-day visit to Brussels, the Czech prime minister will also take part in a European Union summit and meet the secretary general of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Prime Minister Nečas says he plans to raise the question of Canada’s visa requirement for Czech citizens at Thursday’s EU meeting, which will also be attended by the bloc’s foreign ministers. Mr Nečas told reporters on Wednesday that Prague regarded the matter as one of European solidarity. The Canadian government introduced visas for Czechs in July 2009 following an increase in the number of asylum applications from Czech Romanies. The European Commission floated the idea of imposing a visa requirement on Canadian diplomats, but as yet has not done so.
The Czech government has approved a draft law that would reduce subsidies for new solar energy power plants, in an attempt to reign in the booming sector. Generous feed-in tariffs helped make the Czech Republic Europe’s third largest solar market in terms of new capacity last year. Many fear the boom could lead to a marked rise in energy prices in 2011, which could hurt competitiveness. Under the new legislation, high fixed tariffs would not apply to new solar plants built on land – only those on the roofs of buildings.
Michael Kocáb has been dismissed as government commissioner for human
rights. Mr Kocáb had already tendered his resignation, but said he
to stay on as human rights commissioner until a successor was installed.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas announced on Wednesday that the cabinet had
voted to remove him with immediate effect, saying a number of names were
contention for the post.
In the early 1990s Mr Kocáb, then best known as a rock musician, became an MP and oversaw the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia. In more recent times he served as minister for human rights in a caretaker Czech government.
The government is committed to introducing legislation aimed at giving those who took part in the resistance to the Communist regime the same status as war veterans, Prime Minister Nečas told a conference organised by the Confederation of Political Prisoners on Wednesday. Previous efforts to bring in such a law have failed. However, given the new coalition government’s strong majority, the legislation now has a greater chance of succeeding. It would be up to the Ministry of Defence to decide who had been taken part in the resistance during four decades of Communist rule.
The quality of life in Hradec Králové is higher than in any other city in the Czech Republic, suggests a new survey. Prague came second in the study looking at 50 towns and cities, followed by Pardubice. Eleven factors were considered, including the rate of unemployment, property rental prices and life expectancy. Most in northern Bohemia came last in the survey.
A Czech company has come up with a novel method of protection against being overcharged by a taxi driver, an experience common to visitors to the Czech Republic. The firm Et netera has created a mobile phone application that uses a global positioning system to allow passengers to measure the distance travelled and calculate the correct fare. It is offering the system to the authorities in Prague, who have been taking measures to combat overcharging by the city’s taxi drivers for some years.
The Czech table tennis team have taken the bronze medal at the sport’s European championships being held in Ostrava in the northeast of the Czech Republic. The “home” team failed to reach the final after being beaten 3:1 by Belarus in Tuesday’s semi-finals. Belarus will now face Germany, who beat France in the other semi.
Midfielder Radek Šírl has left the Russian club Zenit St Petersburg for Mladá Bolesav in the Czech football league. The 29-year-old joined Zenit from Sparta Prague in 2002, helping the club win the Russian league title in 2007 and the UEFA Cup the following year. However, after problems with injuries he was recently released by Zenit. Šírl, who can also play as a full-back, has eight caps for the Czech national side.