President Miloš Zeman on Thursday formally asked Social Democrat leader
Bohuslav Sobotka to start negotiations on forming a new government, Mr
Sobotka told reporters. The Social Democrat chairman said he expected a new
government could be formed before the end of the year. However, the
president had earlier said he would only appoint Mr Sobotka prime minister
after he fully recovers from a recent injury.
The Social Democrats came first in last month’s general elections. They have already began talks with the ANO party and the Christian Democrats on forming a coalition government; however, negotiations were on hold for some time due to a crisis within the Social Democrat party when some of its leaders sought to oust Bohuslav Sobotka as party chair.
The Social Democrats on Thursday failed to reach agreement with
representatives of Czech churches and religious societies on cuts to a
major property restitution deal. Ahead of the elections, the Socials
Democrats promised to change the settlement, mainly to lower the financial
compensation churches are set to receive as part of the deal. Both sides on
Thursday agreed to form an expert team to review the Social Democrats’
Under the terms of the controversial property restitution settlement approved by the previous lower house, Czech churches are to get back property confiscated by the Communist regime worth 75 billion crowns, as well as another 60 billion crown as compensation for property that cannot be returned.
Former MP Petr Kott was on Thursday released from police custody, 18 months after he was arrested on corruption charges. Mr Kott faces trial along with former prominent Social Democrat David Rath and other people who allegedly manipulated public contracts in central Bohemia. After his release, Petr Kott told reporters he was going to resume his original profession and work as a doctor in Prague’s Bulovka hospital.
The Czech interim government will consider abolishing limits imposed on brown coal mining in north Bohemia, Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said. Speaking during a visit to the northern Most region, Mr Rusnok said the limits were obsolete and threatened to increase unemployment in the region. The mining limits were imposed in the early 1990s to protect some north Bohemian communities from destruction. Proposals to abolish them have since been regularly discussed among Czech politicians and industry leaders.
Arraignments against the wife of former prime minister Petr Nečas and military intelligence officers she is alleged to have ordered to spy on his former wife will not be ready until January at the earliest, the head of the police’s organised crime unit, Robert Šlachta, told Thursday’s edition of Mladá fronta Dnes. Jana Nečasová (formerly Nagyová) is accused of directing three senior figures in the country’s military intelligence service to monitor Mr. Nečas’s then wife, with the revelations in part leading to his resignation as prime minister. Mr. Šlachta said there had been delays in gathering evidence in the case though he did say that it pointed to a deep-rooted system of clientelism.
The Irish low-cost air carrier Ryanair will resume flights from Prague to Dublin and London, the airline said in a press release on Thursday. Beginning in April, Ryanair plans to operate five weekly connections between the Czech capital and Dublin; flights to and from London Stansted should be scheduled every day of the week. The company hopes to annually transport 180,000 passengers on the two connections. Ryanair stopped offering these connections in 2010, after Prague airport refused to lower its fees for the low-cost airline.
The firm MND has started seismic exploration of potential deposits of oil and gas in south Moravia, the company said in a press release. MND, a subsidiary of the investment group KKCG, has invested over 200 million crowns in the operation, and hired the German firm DMT to do the job. Seismic surveys will take place in an area of some 150 square kilometres near the town of Mikulov, and should conclude next April, the company said.
The Czech Transport Ministry will next year open access to its public transport timetables database, the website lupa.cz reported. The ministry has drafted legislation that will end the monopoly of the firm Chaps which has been administering the database since 2001. The ministry has come under criticism for allowing the monopoly to continue; the Czech anti-monopoly agency has also launched a probe into allegations the Chaps company allegedly abused its dominant position. The company runs the popular website IDOS which offers online searching for municipal, bus and train connections.
Trading firms’ obligation to check their business partners’ VAT records has won the Absurdity of the Year award, the organizers said on Thursday. The respective legislation, which came into force last year, was supposed to curb tax evasion. However, critics say the state in fact transferred its responsibility for tax collection onto private companies which have to make sure their business partners have paid the value added tax. If they fail to do so, the companies face the risk of themselves having to pay VAT for their business partners. The 7th annual Absurdity of the Year awards also highlighted the fact that the Czech authorities reject tax returns in the pdf format.
A Norwegian TV series set in the time of the Second World Ward has begun filming in Prague, a Czech film production company said. The show entitled The Heavy Water War focuses on the secret development of Nazi nuclear weapons; it stars, among others, the British actress Anna Friel. The Czech production firm said filming in Prague would take 40 days; the producers are to spend 95 million crowns in the Czech Republic out of the show’s total budget of 275 million.