The police on Thursday arrested former transport minister and Public Affairs leader Vít Barta together with the head of the information division of the anti-corruption police Jan Petržílek. According to the internet news site Ceskapozice.cz the arrests were made in connection with an ongoing investigation into information leaks from the ranks of the police. Earlier speculation in Novinky.cz which broke the story that the arrests were linked to the appointment of Petr Lessy police president has proved unsubstantiated.
The Globe and Mail has voiced reservations regarding the appointment of Czech-born Otto Jelínek as Canada’s ambassador to the Czech Republic. The paper says the communist refugee, world-champion figure skater and Mulroney era cabinet minister returned to the Czech Republic in 1994 where he spent 18 years and developed a wide range of business and personal connections which questions his ability to represent and advocate for Canada. The Globe and Mail moreover points out that Mr. Jelínek was associated with a still unresolved corruption scandal linked to the suspect acquisition of fighter jets for the Czech military.
The Interior Ministry wants to station specially trained police officers in the country’s slums, according to a report presented to the government on Friday. The move comes in the wake of rising petty crime in poverty-ridden areas of the country and growing tension between its inhabitants and the majority population. There are presently between 300 and 400 slums in the Czech Republic with an estimated 80,000 inhabitants, the greater part of them Romanies. It is not clear how many specialists would be needed but the ministry envisaged training around 50 a year.
There is controversy at Czech public television following claims of censorship made by a number of employees. Twenty-one journalists, including the news deputy head Adam Komers have sent a letter of complaint to the Czech TV council, claiming that news bulletins and current affairs reports are censored in favour of President Miloš Zeman and the Party of Citizens’ Rights –Zemanites. Meanwhile over 60 others, including the stations most popular current affairs anchor Vaclav Moravec, have disputed the claims signing a proclamation in which they rule out any manipulation or pressure. The head of Czech public television Petr Dvorak has said he will get independent auditors to investigate the matter.
Police around Europe have cracked down on an international ring producing false identity papers for several countries, detaining 26 people. Seven people were detained in the operation on Czech territory and six have been charged with forgery and money-laundering, including three Armenian nationals who reportedly headed the operation. False IDs were sold to Germany, Austria, France, Norway and Sweden for the price of 300 to 600 euro apiece.
The South Moravian branch of the Social Democrats will meet on Monday to discuss the fate of three of the five party rebels who publicly lied about a meeting with President Miloš Zeman at which they are believed to have planned to oust party leader Bohuslav Sobotka. The attempt to remove Mr. Sobotka from the head of the party failed and the rebels involved were publicly humiliated. The governor of South Bohemia Jiří Zimola has already resigned from the party leadership, the others say they want to defend themselves on home ground and will respect the recommendation made by their regional party branch.
The Czech state budget deficit grew to 47.7 billion crowns in October from September´s 38.2 billion, according to a Finance Ministry report released on Friday. It is the best result for October since 2008. The state budget deficit for 2013 has been projected at 100 billion crowns but Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said last month that thanks to money from EU funds, the budget gap this year could be much lower than projected.
The late Jiří Hájek, a leading member of the Czech dissent and one of the first spokespersons of Charter 77 was not decorated on October 28th as planned because his son refused to take part in the official ceremony and to receive the decoration from President Miloš Zeman, the Office of the President confirmed on Friday. The president’s spokeswoman said the president considered Jíří Hájek Jr’s request that it should be sent by post insulting. Hájek Jr made it clear that he did not want to participate in the prize-awarding ceremony at the Prague Castle because he was critical of President Zeman's activities. Rock singer and musician Vladimir Mišík also refused to receive the state decoration from the president.
Police in Blackburn say they prevented a sham marriage between a Pakistani man and a Czech woman on Thursday. The Pakistani whose residence permit in Great Britain had expired is to be deported. The 25-year-old Czech woman was released after undergoing police questioning. Six Czech nationals were detained in Wolverhampton this week on suspicion of being part of a sham marriage ring in the UK.
The section between Kačerov and Háje on the C line of the Prague metro will be closed for track maintenance for the first two weekends in November, the Prague city transport authority has announced. The closures will take place from Friday evening 6pm till early Monday morning. Replacement busses will be available along the given stretch. Information will be available at each station in English and German.