Daily news summary


Swiss High State Attorney’s Office claims Czech MEP has been charged with fraud

The High State Attorney’s Office in Zurich says charges have been brought against Czech Communist Party MEP Miloslav Ransdorf and three Slovaks arrested in a Swiss bank on suspicion of attempted financial fraud last Friday. Although the Czech MEP has not received official notification of this, the spokeswoman for the office, Corinne Bouvard, said this was due to the differences in the Czech and Swiss legal system where the state attorney’s office launches criminal proceeding upon receiving a police file.

Embattled MEP Ransdorf presents his case to party leadership

Embattled Communist Party MEP Miloslav Ransdorf met with his party leadership on Tuesday to explain the circumstances of his arrest in Switzerland last Friday. The MEP, who has not been charged, denied involvement in attempted financial fraud, saying he had only attempted to mediate with the bank on behalf of a bank client in the matter of a family inheritance. The MEP said he would now fight to clear his name. The head of the Communist Party Vojtech Filip said he was satisfied with the explanation and documents provided by Mr. Ransdorf.

Lower house debating anti-smoking bill

The lower house is debating a bill aimed at banning smoking at pubs and restaurants in the Czech Republic. The bill, now in its first reading, would radically change the pub scene in the country and there has been strong lobbying against it. All previous attempts to push through an effective anti-smoking law have failed and this bill’s passage through the lower house has been slower than expected. The chances of it coming into effect in January as planned are now practically nil.

Czech Chamber of Commerce setting up fund in aid of refugees

The Czech Chamber of Commerce and the Association for Integration and Migration have announced they are setting up a fund in aid of migrants. The initiative came from the Chamber of Commerce which approached Czech firms with the idea and 738 of them responded positively, promising to make a donation or provide jobs for refugees. According to the head of the chamber Vladimir Dlouhy there would be around 2,000 job openings. The fund is to be administered by the Association for Integration and Migration and the money is to be used for the education of children, Czech lessons and requalification courses.

Catholic Church to reclaim rare 14th century painting

The Prague Municipal Court has ordered a rare painting dating back to 1350, Madona z Veveří, to be returned to the Czech Catholic Church. The verdict upholds an earlier ruling by a Prague 1 court. The National Gallery which currently holds the painting, had refused to give it up on the grounds that the Catholic Church lost it before the onset of the communist regime, so it could not be reclaimed within the church restitution law. The Municipal Court ruled that the state could not lay any claim to the painting.

Hygiene officers close down 40 pubs and restaurants

The Czech Food Inspection Office has closed down 40 pubs, restaurants and food stores around the country in the past ten weeks due to poor hygiene, Czech Radio reported. The most common transgressions are dirt, mice droppings and insects in kitchens or storage facilities. A complete list of the institutions that failed to comply with health norms can be found on the web page of the food inspection office.

Dukovany unit closures could last until February

Three reactors at the ČEZ-operated nuclear power plant at Dukovany could stay shut until January next year or even February, according to a spokesman for the plant. He said that checks on welds on pipes at the reactor are taking a lot longer than expected. The three units have been closed since mid-September when flaws in X-ray safety checks on pipes by a sub-contractor working for Czech utility CEZ were revealed. CEZ general director and board chairman Daniel Beneš had said that he expected the closed units to be up and running by Christmas.

Majority of Czechs are against fur farming

The vast majority of Czechs are opposed to fur farming, according to the outcome of a poll conducted by the CVVM agency. According to the poll data, released a press briefing in the Senate on Tuesday, 70 percent of respondents would like to see fur farms banned. Senator Ivana Cabrnochova of the Green party said the poll results should be a signal for Czech lawmakers to amend the law respectively. There are ten big fur farms in the Czech Republic breeding some ten thousand animals, mainly foxes and chinchillas.

Central Bank: No forex interventions made in October

The Czech National Bank made no interventions on the forex market in October, according to data on the central bank's forex deals released by the bank on Tuesday. The central bank last intervened against the firming crown in September. The aim of the interventions launched in Nov 2013 is to keep the crown's rate below 27 crowns to the euro. The crown has approached this mark several times in the past months. The bank’s board recently said it may extend its forex interentions beyond 2016.

Prague-Shanghai air link to launch in April

A direct airline link between Prague and Shanghai should be launched by China Eastern Airlines on April 2 of next year, a spokeswoman for Prague airport’s operator announced. The flights should take place three times a week. Direct flights to Beijing were launched at the end of September this year by Hainan Airlines. The start of flights to Shanghai isregarded as further proof of the Czech Republic’s stepped-up business and economic links with China.