Parliament’s Security Committee failed to hear two elite police chiefs and Olomouc’s high state prosecutor Ivo Ištvanon on Thursday evening. After two hours of debate the committees members failed to approve a procedural order and the meeting was terminated.The hearing was requested by the head of the squad for fighting organized crime Robert Šlachta who said he had evidence of links between the police and the criminal underworld. Mr. Slachta resigned from office over a planned police reform which he believes is being undertaken to bring his team of investigators under greater control and undermine their independence.
The Czech Republic wants to post agricultural attachés with diplomatic status in three more countries in the coming months, the Czech Agriculture Ministry confirmed on Thursday. Prague already has agricultural attachés in Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and Serbia and wants to post them in the US, Japan and Lebanon in the near future. Their main task is to assist Czech firms in finding new export opportunities.
Transport Minister Dan Tok is insisting that the landslide which buried part of the under-construction D8 highway, linking Prague with Saxony in Germany, was caused by negligence in the operation of a nearby quarry. The minister cites an expert study commissioned by the Czech Transport Ministry, on the grounds of which the ministry is now claiming billion crown damages from Kamen Zbraslav, the company operating the quarry. However experts from the Czech Academy of Sciences who worked on the study say its conclusions did not point to a single culprit. The slope landslide buried part of the highway near the town of Litochovice in June of last year following heavy rainfall.
The Social Democrats have edged ahead of the ANO party in popularity ratings for the first time in six months, according to the outcome of a public survey conducted by the CVVM polling agency. If elections were held today the Social Democrats would win with 24.5 percent of the vote, their main rival ANO would get 23.5, a drop of 4.5 percent from the previous month. The Communist Party would come third with 16 percent, followed by the Christian Democrats of the ruling coalition with 9 percent. The leading right wing parties – the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 – would get 7 percent each.
The 2016 fruit harvest is expected to see a 28 percent drop year-on-year due to the late frosts which hit the country at the end of April. Fruit growers estimate losses of around 400 million crowns. According to the head of the Fruit Growers Union Martin Ludvik the fallout should not affect prices on the market. The most severe damage is reported in southern Moravia.
Meteorologists have issued a heatwave warning for the entire country over the next three days during which temperatures are expected to reach 36 degrees Celsius. The heatwave should break on Saturday afternoon with severe storms, and hailstorms in places. People have been warned to stay out of the sun, increase their intake of fluids, and reduce consumption of alcohol.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Thursday attended the launch of a direct air-link between Prague and Shanghai which is expected to increase tourist traffic between the Czech Republic and China. Last year the Czech Republic attracted 280,000 Chinese visitors: this year their number is expected to cross the 300,000 mark. China Eastern has launched direct flights three times a week and says the first flights are already 80 percent booked. Growing traffic between the two countries also stems from closer business ties.
The Czech Republic is firmly convinced that the EU will be stronger with Britain, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement published by the ctk news agency on Thursday. Mr. Sobotka expressed the hope that Britain’s vote would swing in favour of membership, saying that, today more than ever, when Europe needed to respond to common threats its fragmentation would be a big mistake. Given the war against terror, the migrant crisis and climatic changes Europe needs to unite rather than give way to nationalism, the prime minister said.
The police have launched criminal proceedings against five people in connection with the Ševětín photovoltaic power plant, charging them with fraud. The Prague High State Attorney’s Office published the news on its website. If found guilty, the suspects could face between five to 10 years behind bars; the power plant belongs to partly state-owned energy giant ČEZ.
Florida Panthers’ forward Jaromír Jágr has become the first Czech to be awarded the Bill Masterson Trophy recognizing outstanding sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. At 44, Jágr is the oldest player in the NHL but is known for training tirelessly; he led his team last season with 66 points and helped the club set a franchise record of 47 wins and 103 points. Jágr could not attend the award ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday as his father is ill, but said on Florida’s website that it was an honour to receive the trophy. He called hockey “a passion he was motivated to excel at each day”.