Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says he plans to rush through changes to the Czech Republic’s law on electronic communications. The move should increase the powers of regulator the Czech Telecommunications Office (CTO) with a view to increasing competition among mobile telephone operators and thus benefiting customers. The bill would also make it easier for customers to switch operators. A particular issue in the Czech Republic is the high cost of mobile data compared to in other states.
Complications have arisen in Gabriela Koukalová’s preparations for the forthcoming Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen, Germany. The Czech star was forced to return home from a training camp in Italy’s Anterselva to have a splinter removed from her right hand. Koukalová caught the splinter, which began to hurt, fester and swell up, in the palm of her hand last week.
Former Civic Democrat senator Alexandr Novák has German citizenship but that will not prevent his extradition to the Czech Republic, a Czech Ministry of Justice spokesperson said on Tuesday. Mr. Novák was arrested in Frankfurt on an international arrest warrant over charges of abuse of European Union subsidies in connection with a regional programme. The ex-politician was previously sentenced to a four-year jail term for bribe-taking.
This year’s edition of Prague’s Febiofest film festival will open with the Czech premiere of Spoor, a new film by Polish director Agnieszka Holland that was partly shot in the Czech Republic. The cult US director Abel Ferrara will receive the festival’s Kristián award for contribution to world cinema, as will the UK cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, a close collaborator of director David Cronenberg. The 24th edition of Febiofest runs from March 23 to 31.
The Ferdinand Peroutka Prize for journalist of the year 2016 has gone to Vladimír Kučera, a commentator and television scriptwriter who also presents a history show, and Petr Honzejk, a columnist with the business daily Hospodářské noviny. The two received the awards in a ceremony at Prague’s DOX centre for contemporary art on Monday evening. Ferdinand Peroutka is one of the most famous figures in the history of Czech journalism. He died in exile in New York in 1983.
Pavel Minařík, who was a spy for communist Czechoslovakia, has been sent to prison for four months for the possession of a weapon without a license, Právo reported on Tuesday. The one-time StB agent attempted to commit suicide with an illegally held weapon in 2015 while on probation for insurance fraud, the newspaper said. The court was unable to impose a fine on him as he is living without means in a Red Cross facility for pensioners. Mr. Minařík, who is now 72, infiltrated Radio Free Europe in West Germany in the mid-1970s and planned to blow up the station. He was tried in Prague and received a four-year jail term in 1993.
The Czech National Bank has spent almost as much on keeping the Czech crown weak so far this year as it did in the whole of 2016. According to data released by the central bank on Tuesday, it spent up to CZK 400 billion on the currency markets in January in an effort to keep the crown below 27 to the euro. Last year it spent CZK 455 billion buying euros. Since the policy was introduced in November 2013 it has cost CZK 900 billion. The central bank plans to abandon the policy this year but says it will not do so before the second quarter.
The Slovak Supreme Court has upheld a verdict by a lower instance court according to which Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš did not knowingly collaborate with the communist secret police in the 1980s. The court turned down an appeal by the Slovak Nation's Memory Institute, an agency overseeing former secret police files, which protested against the verdict on the grounds that members of the former secret police who gave evidence in Babiš’ favour were bound by an oath to secrecy. Babiš, a Slovak entrepreneur who now has Czech citizenship, maintains that, as an employee of a foreign trade firm, he had met with the secret police, but never pledged to cooperate.
German police have arrested former Czech senator Alexander Novák, who is one of 24 officials charged in the Czech Republic in connection with abuse of EU funds. Novak was reportedly part of a scam in the Northwest Regional Operational Programme office that distributes EU subsidies. The damage caused was estimated at close to 14 billion crowns. He was abroad at the time of the police raid last year.