Changes in the police force are the domain of the police president and the minister of the interior, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday. The prime minister said such changes were a highly specialised matter that politicians should not become involved in. Following demands from ANO, he has called a special coalition meeting before a cabinet session on Wednesday. ANO says plans to merge the forces’s organised crime and anti-corruption units are political and the party’s minister of justice, Robert Pelikán, has threatened to resign if the merger goes ahead. The head of teh organised crime unit, Robert Šlachta, has asked to be released from the service over the planned change.
Russia is attempting to “divide and conquer” the European Union by supporting right-wing populist politicians, says the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek. In an interview for the Financial Times, Mr. Zaorálek said Russia was taking advantage of the EU’s weakness and a response ought to be found. The foreign policy chief warned that Russian-backed right-wing populism could destroy the European mainstream. Speaking in connection with the UK’s upcoming EU referendum, Mr. Zaorálek said he was very afraid of the tendency toward fragmentation and warned against a repetition of the events of the 1930s.
The Czech Republic is set to reject an amendment to the European Firearms Directive aimed at making it harder for terrorists to acquire weapons. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said he would do his best at a meeting in Luxembourg on Friday to persuade the backers of the proposal that it would not produce positive results. Both houses of the Czech Parliament have rejected the change, stating that terrorists use illegally acquired firearms, not legally held ones. The Czech Ministry of the Interior has produced a report suggesting that the amendment could impact the security of the country and cost thousands of jobs.
Police in Prague have recommended that charges be pressed against a City Hall official in connection with the Blanka tunnel construction project, Czech Television reported on Thursday. Jan Beránek, the one-time head of a City Hall investments department, is accused of agreeing to an overpriced contract that caused over CZK 30 million of damage to the city. The Blanka tunnel was opened last year, four years behind schedule and around CZK 10 billion over-budget.
Thursday sees the launch of the Gulag Online virtual museum created by the Czech association Gulag.cz. The group mapped abandoned Gulag camps in remote parts of Siberia on three expeditions and used the material gathered to create the internet museum, which includes a tour of a 3D Gulag camp, panoramic photographs and the testimonies of Czechoslovak survivors of the Soviets’ system of labour camps.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague has issued recommendations for Czech football fans going to the European Championship in France, which begins on Friday. The ministry pointed out that security had been stepped up in the country following terrorist attacks in November and recommended that fans register with a database of Czech citizens travelling abroad. It said they should follow all instructions from local officials closely and arrive early for games. A team of Czech police officers will be in France for the tournament.
The Brno Regional Court has suspended the prison term of businessman Roman Janoušek for six months on health grounds, Czech Television reported on Thursday. The Prison Service had recommended a year-long suspension. Mr. Janoušek received a sentence of four and a half years for seriously injuring a woman in a hit and run incident while under the influence. Wiretaps published in the Czech media created the impression that he at one time held considerable influence over politicians in Prague.
The national stud farm in Kladruby, Central Bohemia is a step closer to being included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Czech News Agency reported. The minister of agriculture, Marian Jurečka, and the minister of culture, Daniel Herman, on Thursday signed an agreement to set up a committee to coordinate the bid. The farm should file an application with UNESCO next year but winning a place on the list would take several more years. Founded in 1579, the Kladruby stud is known for its Kladruber horses, one of the oldest breeds in the world.
A Czech plane with almost 200 people on board was forced to make an emergency landing in the south of France on Wednesday. The Travel Service plane was on a flight from Prague to Seville in Spain. It was forced to land at Toulouse after a loss of cabin pressure in the aircraft. Technicians are now trying to pinpoint the fault. It was not immediately clear if passengers would use the same aircraft to continue the journey.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech has warned that Spain’s 1:0 loss in their last warm up game against Georgia will serve as a wake up call for the Czech team’s first opponents in the Euro 2016 competition. Čech said he would have preferred if the Spanish would have calmly won 5:0. The defeat means they will focus on any problems and be determined not to repeat them again, he said. The Arsenal goalkeeper pointed out though that Spain often had a stuttering start to big competitions with one draw and two defeats in the opening games in the last three major tournaments. The Czech Republic faces Spain on Monday. The Czech squad arrived at their French base outside the city of Tours on Wednesday afternoon and have already held their first training session.