Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who was in Brussels on a working visit has met with EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Mr. Sobotka declared the Czech government’s intention to bring the country back to the European mainstream and take a more constructive stand to European integration. He said the Czech Republic would join the fiscal pact and would no longer insist on an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights which was the former president Vaclav Klaus’ condition for signing the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The talks also focussed on the situation in Ukraine with the Czech prime minister stressing the need for a united EU stand, possibly the introduction of sanctions if the violence does not cease.
A group of Ukrainian nationals gathered outside Prague Castle on Thursday to demonstrate against President Yanukovych as the death toll in their country mounted. There were calls for Yanukovych’s resignation as demonstrators held up banners reading ”How many more people must die?” Another demonstration is scheduled to take place on Prague’s Wenceslas Square later on Thursday. Meanwhile Czech politicians across the political spectrum have expressed grave concern over the latest developments calling for concerted action on the part of the international community to stop the violence in Ukraine.
Ministers for the ANO party have launched in-depth audits into public spending at their respective institutions. The second-strongest party in government controls the ministries of finance, regional development, justice, defence and the environment. The audits go back over a period of five years and in addition to checking out past tenders and public spending will present an overview of the ministries’ finances and assets. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday he regretted not having been informed about the decision in advance since the cabinet could have taken coordinated action in this respect.
An inspection into institutions for patients suffering from dementia has revealed serious lapses, according to the Ombudsman’s Office. An inspection into 14 such facilities revealed serious problems in more than half of them, newly-elected Ombudsman Anna Šabatová told journalists on Thursday. There is a lack of qualified personnel and a marked lack of respect for the dignity of these patients, Mrs. Šabatová noted, adding that there was a tendency to overuse tranquilizers and not enough attention was being paid to proper food intake, with many patients being undernourished. The Ombudsman’s Office has called for the matter to be addressed without delay.
Lubomír Poul has resigned as chief of staff at the Agriculture Ministry, the ctk news agency reports. Mr. Poul, who was head of the Office of the Government under the former prime minister Petr Nečas was briefly detained last summer and questioned in connection with the corruption and spying scandal that brought down the former centre-right government. Although no charges were brought against him, his appointment to a high civil service post at the agriculture ministry came under fire from Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who called the move unfortunate”. Mr. Poul reportedly offered his resignation to Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka and it was accepted.
A court in Karvina has ordered Petr Kramný, who has been charged with murdering his wife and young daughter while on holiday in Egypt, to be remanded in custody for fear that he might influence witnesses or try to flee the country. His young wife an eight-year old daughter died of severe poisoning while on holiday in the Hurghada sea resort. Kramný himself reported the deaths, saying that all three had come down with intestinal and stomach problems. If convicted of the murders Kramný would face from 15 to 20 years in jail.
War pilot Miroslav Štandera, who flew with the RAF piloting aircraft in France and Britain during World War Two, died on Wednesday aged 95, a spokeswoman for Plzen city hall, told the ctk news agency. After the communists seized power in then Czechoslovakia in 1948, Štandera fled to Britain where he stayed in the services of the RAF for another seven years. He returned to Plzen in 1994, five years after the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. His funeral will be held in St Bartholomew Cathedral in Plzen on February 26.
Almost half of all companies in the Czech Republic - 48 percent - have fallen victim to economic crime in the past two years, according to the latest global economic crime survey conducted by company PricewaterhouseCoopers. The number of firms directly affected by cybercrime in the Czech Republic has doubled in the past two years. However, the most frequent type of economic crime in the Czech Republic is theft or embezzlement of a company's property by its employees which accounts for almost 80 percent of economic crimes. Worldwide, theft and embezzlement make up only 69 percent of cases on average.
The Czech men's hockey team was soundly defeated on Wednesday by a US squad that has continued to shine at the Winter Olympics. A day after the Czechs knocked Slovakia from the tournament, they appeared lackluster and were out-skated and outplayed by their American opponents. Goalie Ondřej Pavelec was chased from the net in the second period when the US scored their fourth goal to make it 4-1. The Czech starting goalie was replaced by Salak. The game finished 5-2. The US team faces Canada in the semi-final.