The Interior Ministry is assessing the applications of twenty-one contestants for the post of deputy interior minister responsible for the civil service sector. This “chief-bureaucrat”, as he has been dubbed by the press, would be responsible for the planned overhaul of the country’s state administration system as outlined in the civil service law approved late last year. The ministry has stressed the importance of selecting a highly-qualified and reliable person for the job and decided to scrap the first round of the open competition because none of the applicants appeared suitable. The name of the new deputy for civil service is to be known next week.
The Czech Muslim community is considering making a criminal complaint against the leader of the Dawn party Senator Tomio Okamura for hate speech. On his Facebook page the senator recently endorsed a contribution by the party’s deputy Jiří Kobza who encouraged Czechs to insult Muslims, suggesting they walk pigs in the vicinity of mosques and boycott Muslim-owned businesses in order to protect their democratic way of life. The head of the Czech Muslim community Muneeb Hassan Alrawi told Czech Radio that this is not the first time the party leader has presented anti-Muslim views and that community leaders are debating the best possible course of action.
The Czech Republic currently has the fifth lowest price of petrol in Europe, the ctk news agency reports. Petrol is currently cheapest in Estonia and Sweden has seen the biggest price slump over the past year. The price of the best-selling petrol, Natural 95 has dropped by over 4 crowns over the past year in the Czech Republic to the present average of 31.7 crowns, while diesel has dropped by 3.7 crowns to an average 32.1 crowns per litre. Significant price reductions have also been registered in Greece, Denmark and Norway.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Prague has responded to controversial statements
made by President Miloš Zeman over the weekend. In a statement on its web
page the embassy said that in bilateral relations the decisive voice in
Prague was that of the Czech government which had made it clear that it
fully respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and
supported its reform efforts.
In an interview for the Czech daily Pravo published on Saturday President Zeman described the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, as a “war premier” saying that Kiev was following a two-faced policy, with President Petro Poroshenko representing a “man of peace” while Mr. Yatseniuk wanted to resolve the situation by force rather than accepting a European Commission peace deal.
The Czech head of state likewise spoke about fascist tendencies in Kiev, saying that a recent Banderite march through the city reminded him of the Nazi torch marches of the 1930s. The Ukrainian Embassy said in its statement that despite the controversial views on Stepan Bander to most Ukrainians today he was a symbol of the fight for freedom and independence.
The Czech Republic´s state budget ended in a 77.8 billion crown deficit last year, lower than the approved 112 billion crown gap for the year, the Finance Ministry announced on Monday. The deficit was lower mainly thanks to the collection of corporate income tax and VAT on the side of revenues. On the side of expenditures, savings were reached in particular by non-investment purchases and related expenditures, social allowances and potentially also by tying expenditures in the General Treasury Administration chapter, the ministry said.
Lower house deputy for the Dawn party, Milan Šarapaka has distanced himself from the anti-Muslim statements made by party leader, Senator Tomio Okamura. On his Facebook page the senator encouraged his followers to insult Muslims, suggesting they walk pigs in the vicinity of mosques and boycott Muslim-owned businesses in order to protect their democratic way of life. Deputy Šarapatka, a former diplomat, said he had repeatedly tried to temper the senator’s radical foreign policy views without success and was no longer willing to take part in setting the party’s foreign policy line. He will however remain a member of the party’s deputies group in the lower house. The Dawn party has 14 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Its leader, Czech-Japanese politician Tomio Okamura, is known for making controversial statements with regard to foreigners and the Romany minority.
The traditional Three Kings charity collection organized by the non-profit organization Charita, which was launched with a celebratory mass at St. Vitus Cathedral on Sunday, is now underway around the country. Last year this popular nation-wide charity collection brought in over 80 million crowns in aid of physically, mentally and socially disadvantaged persons. Around 60,000 volunteers are taking part, going from home to home dressed as the three kings, singing carols and asking people for donations. The collection, now in its fifteenth year, is open until January 14th.
The blood plasma company Diag Human which has unsuccessfully sued the Czech state in several foreign countries for allegedly failing to protect its investment in the Czech Republic says the protracted court battle is not over. The company is reportedly filing fresh suits in Belgium and the Netherlands. Diag Human has already lost suits filed in Austria, France, Switzerland, Great Britain and the United States. It claimed eight billion crowns plus interest for a marred deal in the 1990s.
The Supreme Court has abolished a lower court verdict according to which an internet pirate would have to pay eleven million crowns in compensation for illegally downloading 372 films and 33 CDs onto file hosting servers for general use. The Supreme Court said it was not possible to set the amount of compensation to be paid by simply multiplying the price of the product by the given number of downloads because this did not reflect the real damages caused to copyright owners. Rene Rozmahel who was ordered to pay this sum by the Brno Municipal Court appealed the verdict on the grounds that it was an exemplary rather than just punishment.
The Anti-Monopoly Office has ordered the Brno University of Technology to pay a one million crown fine for mishandling a public tender for the construction of its Information Technology Research Centre. The centre cost over 150 million crowns and the Anti-Monopoly Office claims that the conditions according to which the university selected the winner of the tender –IMOS Brno – were intransparent. The university has not so far commented on the issue.