The Finance Ministry has broadened a criminal complaint it has taken in connection with the privatisation of the coal-mining company Mostecká uhelná společnost, it said in a statement said on Tuesday. The ministry asserts that the defendants in a case surrounding the selloff had control of the firm over a year before they said they had. That information influenced the price paid to the state for its stake and also influenced the government’s decision to sell, the ministry said. A number of former managers and owners are facing charges of insider trading and fraud over their part of the privatisation in 1999. They are alleged to have swindled the state out of CZK 1.6 billion.
Speaking on a four-day state visit to Israel, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, thanked his counterpart Shimon Peres for using the country name Czechia rather than the Czech Republic. Mr. Zeman said he himself preferred to use Czechia as it was nicer, shorter and less cold than the Czech Republic. After the breakup of Czechoslovakia some people began using the name Czechia, which is analogous to the popular Czech-language name Česko. However, it has not really caught on.
Czechs have above average skills in mathematics, according to an OECD study of 16- to 65-year-olds in two dozen states conducted in 2011 and 2012. Czechs ranked ninth in maths among 22 OECD states, Russia and Cyprus. When it comes to literacy and computer literacy they achieved average placings. An official at the Czech Ministry of Education said the results of the survey gave the lie to suggestions that the country’s level of education had fallen.
The Czech Republic’s official entry for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film looks set to be the Jiří Menzel picture Donšajni (The Don Juans). The Czech Film Academy had selected a film adaptation of the TV mini-series Hořící keř (Burning Bush) helmed by Polish director Agnieska Holland. However, it apparently does not meet the criteria for the Oscars. Donšajni, a comedy set against the backdrop of a small town opera company, had been second on the list of Czech nominations.
A new permanent exhibition has opened in the building in the East Bohemian town of Česká Skalice where Václav Havel shot the film Leaving. The garden of the Villa Čerych was used by the late president and dramatist in summer 2010 as the setting for his only movie, which was based on his play of the same name. His actress wife Dagmar took the lead female role in the film and donated some of the costumes and other items that are now on show.
The Czech ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr has scored his first goal since joining the New Jersey Devils and ended a barren streak lasting 26 games. The forward, who is 41, got the opening goal of a game against Edmonton, though the Devils eventually lost 5:4 after penalties. The last time he had found the net was for Boston in April. Interestingly Jágr got his first ever goal in the NHL on the same date, October 7, 23 years ago, as a rookie with Pittsburgh Penguins.
President Miloš Zeman met with his Israeli counterpart Simon Perez on Monday at the start of a four -day state visit to Israel. The heads of state praised their countries’ above-standard relations and discussed the Middle East peace process. President Zeman said it is the duty of the international community to fight terrorism, because negotiating with terrorists only made them stronger. Mr. Zeman described Israel as an island of democracy in the Middle East. The Czech president is also due to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu and is expected to deliver a keynote speech in Jerusalem.
The Czech president on Monday toned down his controversial proposal that the Czech Embassy in Tel Aviv should be moved to Jerusalem. In response to outraged reactions from Palestinian leaders and criticism at home, Mr. Zeman told journalists he had envisioned such a move only after the conclusion of the Middle East Peace process and the construction of a residential quarter for foreign diplomats in Jerusalem.
The Czech Republic will fail to draw 30 to 70 billion crowns from EU funds in the 2007 to 2013 period. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said on Monday this was due to the somewhat complicated EU mechanism of fund drawing and the inability of many Czech public officials to present long-term projects and goals. The prime minister said he ascribed this failure to all post-2007 governments which had underestimated the task of drawing EU funds and closed their eyes to weaknesses in strategic planning.
Former president Vaclav Klaus on Monday launched his new book The Czech Republic at a Crossroads. The book is his fiercest criticism of the EU to date, in which the president claims the EU contributes to everything bad in Czech politics, society and the economy and says the country cannot make a headway and effect structural changes unless it makes a radical cut and leaves the EU. The country’s leading Eurosceptic said at the book launch in Prague that the Czech Republic was now at a crossroads and had two options: either to try to reform the EU from within or leave its ranks. He said there was no reason to fear a clean break from Brussels, since such a move would be akin to the Czech-Slovak divorce: trams would still run, water would flow and the lights would still shine.