Court hands sentences in fraudulent building company H-System
A court in Prague on Monday sentenced two managers of the fraudulent building company H-System to nine and eight years in jail, respectively. The men were convicted of taking part in multi-billion crown fraud. In the early 1990s, their company promised new apartments and took advance payments from its clients; by 1997, however, the company went bankrupt and more than 1,000 of its clients lost their money. Monday’s ruling was the final verdict in the case; in 2002, the man who masterminded the fraud was sentenced to 12 years in jail.
Brussels assesses compliance with recommendations in EU audit on Babiš10/24/2020
Brussels has sent Prague a new assessment pertaining to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s possible conflict of interest.
According to the news site Neovlivní.cz, the European Commission remains convinced that this is so, despite Czech officials‘attempts to refute that claim.
The current report now assesses the Czech Republic’s compliance with the recommendations made and whether they are sufficient, according to a source familiar with the document Neovlivni writes.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution in June saying it is inadmissible for the Czech prime minister to partake in decisions on EU funds, while continuing to exert control over the multi-billion crown Agrofert conglomerate he founded, despite having placed it into trust funds.
It concluded that the only solution is for the prime minister to sell his business interests, stop receiving any public subsidies including EU funds, or step down from office.
The Czech prime minister maintains that he has no conflict of interest and fully complies with the Czech conflict of interest law.
Czech landmarks to be lit up in blue in honour of United Nations10/24/2020
Landmarks around the Czech Republic will be lit up in blue on Saturday night to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.
In Prague it will be Petřín Tower, the Dancing House, the Žižkov transmitter and the British Embassy.
The city of Olomouc will light up the Cathedral of St. Wenceslas and Ostrava its New City Hall building.
The tradition of lighting up iconic landmarks in blue is observed around the world.
October 24th marks the 75th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter in 1945.
Switch to winter time due at 3 am tonight10/24/2020
People across the Czech Republic will join millions of others on the Continent in switching to winter time on October 27. Clocks will be set back one hour at 3am.
The last changing of clocks has been scheduled for October 31, 2021, but EU member states have so far failed to agree on whether they will adopt summer time or winter time and it is not clear if the pandemic will not interfere with these plans.
Surveys have shown that 80% of people in the EU oppose the time switch.
The switch to summer time will take place on March 28.
NATO and EU allies sending Czechia ventilators and medics10/24/2020
As the coronavirus crisis in the Czech Republic deepens the country’s NATO and EU allies are sending aid to see hospitals through the worst of the crisis.
Hungary is sending 150 ventilators, The Netherlands is sending 100 ventilators and more are expected to arrive from Austria and NATO’s central reserves.
Earlier this week EC President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU would send 30 ventilators from rescEU - the common European reserve of medical equipment.
A team of 28 military doctors from the Texas and Nebraska National Guards is expected to arrive in the country at the end of next week to help handle the crisis, as a growing number of Czech medics have contracted the infection.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček have both expressed gratitude for the assistance.
Record number of Covid-19 infections registered on Friday10/24/2020
The Czech Republic registered 15,252 new cases of Covid-19 infections on Friday; the first time that the daily increase has crossed the 15,000 mark.
Close to 145,000 people are currently fighting the infection, over 5,000 are hospitalized, of those 751 in a serious condition. The death toll is close to 2,000.
Although the majority of people have mild or no symptoms the number of hospitalized and those in a serious condition is growing steeply.
Community transmissions are now taking place around the country and hygiene offices are having increasing problems tracing contacts.
PM sacks health minister, proposes replacement10/24/2020
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš proposed the dismissal of Health Minister Roman Prymula and named his choice of successor for the post in a meeting with President Miloš Zeman on Friday.
Mr. Babiš said the president had accepted his decision and would meet with the given candidate on Tuesday. He said he hoped to see the new health minister appointed next Thursday.
Health Minister Roman Prymula was hit by scandal on Friday morning, when the daily Blesk published photos of him leaving a Prague restaurant that should have been closed due to anti-coronavirus measures.
M. Prymula refused to resign, saying he had not breached the restrictions he himself ordered, since the meeting with another politician and the head of a hospital had been private and the facility had been closed to the public.
The prime minister has apologized on his behalf.
Prymula: I broke no rules and so will not resign voluntarily10/23/2020
Health Minister Roman Prymula, under pressure to resign after having been photographed leaving a Prague restaurant that should have been closed due to anti-coronavirus measures, told reporters on Friday he had done nothing wrong.
"I stand here looking like a person who is preaching water but drinking wine. … Based on the photos that appeared in [the tabloid] Blesk today, it looks like I broke some rules. I'm honestly saying that I did not,” Prymula told a press conference at which questions were not allowed.
Prymula told reporters he had met MP Jaroslav Faltýnek (ANO) and the Ostrava University Hospital director Jiří Havrlant in a private setting and wore a facemask in line with government restrictions. Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said if Prymula did not resign he would be recalled.
Restaurants in the Czech Republic were ordered closed last week and people are required to wear facemasks even outside if within two metres of another person. Opposition politicians criticized Prymula’s decision not to resign, saying it undermines public confidence in the government and its ability to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
President Zeman again rejects promoting spy chief Koudelka10/23/2020
The Office of President Miloš Zeman has released a list of people he plans to promote to the rank of general ahead of the anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s founding next week. Yet again, Michal Koudelka, head of the counter-intelligence service BIS, is not on it.
The president has been highly critical of the BIS in highlighting the activities of Russian and Chinese agents on Czech territory. Zeman has five times rejected the government’s proposal to name Koudelka a general.
Zeman has accepted other nominees on the government’s list, including Police President Jan Švejdar and Prison Service head Petr Dohnal.
Hackers increasingly target Czech schools’ online sessions10/23/2020
The number of cyberattacks on online teaching and other videoconferencing sessions is growing, Czech authorities have warned.
The Ministry of Education is instructing schools to use guidelines prepared by the National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NÚKIB) for holding secure videoconferencing sessions. These include not giving login details and personal data to others.
According to a report by Check Point Research, cyberattacks have grown by 24 percent in Europe in recent months, as more people use technology at home due to anti-coronavirus measures.
Football: Martin Hašek must pay Sparta CZK 22 mn for breaking contract10/23/2020
The Czech Football Association has announced that midfielder Martin Hašek must pay 22 million crowns to his old club Sparta Prague for violating his contract.
Hašek had signed a 2.5-year contract with Sparta in December 2018, which he unilaterally terminated in March. This January, he refused to travel with the first team to train in Spain and was later moved to reserve team.
Hašek is the son of the Czech international footballer of the same name, and the nephew of former ice hockey goalkeeper Dominik Hašek.