Police have filed a charge of breach of trust against 10 of a total of 11 Prague councillors in connection with the Opencard, a card-based electronic system used for public transport and other services. Among the 10 is the mayor of the city, Bohuslav Svoboda of the Civic Democrats. Officers delivered the indictment to a meeting of the council on Tuesday morning. The charge concerns the awarding of a contract to operate the system to the company Haguess, the only name considered in a closed tender process. The controversial Opencard system was previously found to have been massively overpriced.
Reacting to the indictments at City Hall, the leadership of TOP 09 described the move as an incomprehensible criminalisation of political decision-making. The party said it guaranteed the integrity of its members, adding that the current council had been attempting to rectify the extensive corruption committed by the previous city government. A councillor from TOP 09, which is in coalition in Prague with the Civic Democrats, said Haguess was the only company capable of operating the system. Meanwhile, some opposition Social Democrats have called on Mayor Svoboda to step down.
President Miloš Zeman has announced the names of four lawyers he plans to nominate to the Constitutional Court. Speaking on a visit to the country’s highest court in Brno on Tuesday, Mr. Zeman said he would ask the Senate to approve the candidates Milada Tomková, who is a judge at the Supreme Administrative Court, and law professors Jaroslav Fenyk, Vladimír Sládeček and Jan Filip. The president said he had discussed the names with the chief justice, Pavel Rychetský. He also said he wished to see next parliamentary elections take place on the same day as elections to the European Parliament in May next year.
An agreement has been signed in Prague on the creation of a new Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. Jointly created by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation, the award will be presented every October to a group or individual that has been strongly engaged in the defence of human rights. Václav Havel, who died in 2011, led Czechoslovakia’s peaceful Velvet Revolution and was an active defender of freedoms in many parts of the world.
The governing Civic Democrats have unveiled “Agenda 2014”, a policy document outlining their priorities for the period between now and the end of the coalition’s term of office. The measures include tax reliefs for employers, support for small businesses and a reduction in bureaucracy. Recent opinion polls indicate that support for the Civic Democrats stands at between 9 and 15 percent. Parliamentary elections are expected in June next year, while 2014 will also see European, Senate and local elections in the Czech Republic.
A three-day disaster training exercise has got underway at the Dukovany nuclear power station in south Moravia. The drill, entitled Zone 2013, is intended to test emergency procedures and the preparedness of personnel by simulating the leak of radiation from the plant. The exercise involves over 1,500 people and around 100 pieces of equipment.
A copy of a Baroque Marion column pulled down in 1918 should be erected on Prague’s Old Town Square next year, after the city council voted in favour of the move on Tuesday. The original column was torn down in November 1918 following the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia by Czechs who felt it stood for defeat at the battle of Bílá Hora and the centuries of Habsburg oppression that followed. The Krocín Fountain, which was removed from the square in 1862 in connection with the construction of the Old Town Hall, should also be replaced under the plan.
The Czech Republic’s footballers beat Armenia 3:0 away in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday evening. The goals came from 20-year-old Matěj Vydra (who was named English Championship Player of the Year on Sunday) with a second-half brace and Daniel Kolář, who found the net in the dying seconds. The Czechs now have eight points from five games and still have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Tomáš Berdych has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters in Florida. The Czech men’s tennis number one had a lot of work to do to get past Alejandro Falla on Tuesday in a match lasting two and a half hours; Berdych went behind to the Colombian after losing the first set 2-6, but rallied to take the next two sets 7-6 and 6-4. The last remaining Czech in the women’s draw, Klára Zakopalová, exited the tournament after a 2-6 2-6 fourth-round defeat to Maria Sharapova of Russia.
A new poll carried out by the Academy of Science’s Public Opinion Research Center (CVVM) has shown that 89% of Czechs are not happy with the work of the current government, while 82% are unhappy specifically with Prime Minister Petr Nečas. This is another tough blow for Mr Nečas, whose party, the Civic Democrats, have fallen drastically in the polls in the past few months, getting weaker voter preferences than the Communist Party last week. The CVVM poll also revealed that 70% of people are unsatisfied with the platform of the current government, all pointing to the fact that this is the least popular cabinet since 1998.
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