President-elect Miloš Zeman received nearly 1.5 million crowns in campaign donations in cash, the news site Aktuálně.cz reported. By comparison, donors gave his rivals for the post of head of state sums totaling tens of thousands of crowns. Some of the donations to Mr. Zeman’s campaign, which were lodged in his campaign account in person, were in the hundreds of thousands of crowns. The head of the Czech branch of the corruption watchdog Transparency International, David Ondráčka, told Aktuálně.cz that the sums created considerable suspicion as they left no traces in the banking system. Mr. Zeman’s campaign team refused to make any comment on the matter.
The German police and customs officers have arrested a four-member Berlin-based group that was smuggling marihuana from the Czech Republic into Germany. Three men and a woman had been under surveillance for several months prior to being arrested on Monday evening while returning from the Czech Republic with 50 kilograms of marihuana. The Bavarian and Saxon officials have criticized the allegedly lax Czech drug regulations many times in the past.
The Czech branch of the PEN club has issued an open letter calling on the Czech President Václav Klaus to refrain from attacking his predecessor Václav Havel. President Klaus, whose second and last term in office will end in less than a month, has made a number of public statements recently that expressed disrespect for the former president, playwright and lauded dissident. In an interview for a Polish newspaper, the current president referred to the late Mr Havel as a leftist extremist.
Scientists have discovered a new type of fly that is believed to inhabit only the Podyje National Park in the southwestern Moravian Znojmo region. The fly is from the moth fly family and was given the name trichomyia hardeggensis. Entomologists Markéta Omelková and Jan Ježek from Brno’s Masaryk University were in charge of the fly’s classification. Over 70 species of flies in Moravia are currently endangered, because of the disappearing wetlands that the species are dependent on.
Largely due to heavy snow, Tuesday saw the most car accidents on Czech roads in more than four years. The police registered 521 accidents - a sad daily record that was last surpassed on three separate days in the fall of 2008. Last year, the highest number of accidents in one day was 482 on 15 February. There were two fatalities during the day on Tuesday.
The World Radio Day is being celebrated all over the worldthe for the second year on Wednesday. The day marks the occasion of the founding of the United Nations radio in 1946. Several Czech Radio stations prepared special programming for the occasion. Czech Radio, a public broadcaster, is also celebrating its 90th birthday this year.
The Czech Constitutional Court has rejected a proposal from the Prague Municipal Court to throw out in its entirety an amnesty declared by the president, Václav Klaus, on New Year’s Day. The court is still considering a previously filed challenge to the amnesty by a cross-party group of senators. It rejected the Prague court’s appeal for two reasons. First, because the senators had been the first to challenge a plank of the amnesty halting cases running for over eight years that could have resulted in jail terms of 10 years or less. Second, because the Prague court didn’t have the right to propose the abrogation of the whole amnesty. President Klaus said he was declaring the controversial amnesty to mark 20 years of the independent Czech Republic.
President Václav Klaus says he regrets the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to step down. In a statement, the Czech head of state said he and the pontiff had been close in their outlooks and that the latter had, unlike others, not ridden the cheap bandwagon of “progressivism”. Mr. Klaus said Pope Benedict had been aware of the dangers arising from the loss of traditional values and the breakup of institutions such as the family and the nation state, as well as headlong European integration.
A court in Ostrava has issued a European warrant for the arrest of former Social Democrat deputy Petr Wolf, who three weeks ago failed to turn up to begin serving a six-year jail term for fraud. A spokesperson said that the police had told the court there was a realistic suspicion that Mr. Wolf was no longer in the Czech Republic. There have been reports that the former politician had drawn substantial amounts from his bank account and last week the newspaper Právo said that it had received a text message from his mobile phone saying that he was disguised as a tree and was being bothered by a nesting woodpecker.
The Czech Republic has strongly condemned a nuclear test carried out by North Korea. In a statement, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the test was an irresponsible and regrettable move that threatened peace and stability in the region and was in contravention of international treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions. Tuesday’s nuclear test, the third carried out by North Korea, has been met by international condemnation, including from its ally and neighbour China.
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