Daily news summary


WikiLeaks founder and fugitive tells Czechs US is biggest producer of secrets

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has defended the whistle blowing site in a video conference appearance at Jihlava’s documentary film festival on Thursday night. Assange, currently a virtual prisoner in the Ecuador embassy in London, brushed off charges that WikiLeaks concentrated solely on US and Western secrets. He told his Czech audience that US authorities were the biggest generator of secrets in the world. WikiLeaks had revealed secrets from Russia, China, Peru, and Kenya as well, he said, admitting thought that the site’s main language is English. Russian member of the punk band Pussy Riot, Maria Aljochina, also took part in the debate saying she hoped Assange would be released soon from his three years in the embassy evading an extradition order to Sweden.

Czech Cabinet to discuss increased aid for refugees

The Czech government is planning to release 100 million crowns by the end of this year to help countries worst hit by the refugee crisis. A further 68 million crowns for the same purpose should be found for next year according to a proposal to be put to the Czech Cabinet on Monday. Part of the money will contribute to EU funds established to help refugees in Syria and Africa. Fund will also be directed towards the World Food Programme and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which is providing a large part of the help in Syrian camps.

Talks over Prague coalition break up

Recriminations have followed the break up of talks aimed at salvaging the three-way coalition currently governing Prague City Hall on Friday. Talks collapsed Friday after the grouping of three smaller parties quits talks with ANO representatives and those from the Social Democrats. The reason given was the non-appearance of Prague mayor Adriana Krnáčová, who is ill. Three coalition leaders said they would give time for the ANO party mayor to recover. Negotiators from the other parties said this was a sign that the grouping of Greens, Christian Democrats and the STAN party, were already in talks over an alternative coalition. The latest crisis in Prague’s coalition was sparked last week when four members of the ruling executive were sacked.

Czech household and company debts climb during September

Czech household and corporate debt rose by the end of the September, according to the latest figures from the Czech National Bank. Household debt climbed to just over 1.3 trillion crowns, around 70 billion crowns more than a year earlier. Company debt stood at 1.1 trillion crowns, up from 999 billion crowns in September 2014. On the other side of the equation, household savings with banks and other financial institutions rose by the end of September to just over 1.5 trillion crowns.

Worst Czech aircraft disaster recalled after 40 years

The worst aircraft accident in Czechoslovak history is being recalled on its 40th anniversary today. The accident happened on October 30, 1975, in thick mist when a Yugoslav passenger aircraft approached Prague airport to land. Around a dozen kilometres short of the landing strip, the DC-9 crashed with 79 of the 120 passengers killed. The circumstances of the crash were never fully cleared up but a faulty altimeter is believed to be one of the main causes. Most of the passengers on the plane were Czechs and Slovaks returning from holidays.

Prague losing out millions through low cost rental agreements: planning institute

Prague City Hall is renting out a large part of its real estate portfolio at prices below their market value. That finding has been arrived at by the Institute for Planning and Development. The report by the institute said that Prague is losing out between 100 and 300 million crowns a year through cut price rents for office, commercial, and retail real estate that it owns. Prague city authorities own around a thousand non-residential properties with around half of them unused. The institute is the capital’s main body for urban planning and architectural development.

State rail track company says no trace of contract with ANO politician

The Czech state-owned rail track authority has said that it can find no record of the influential Prague politician Radmila Kleslová being paid by it. The announcement follows news that the former head of the ANO party In Prague was paid to the tune of 95,000 crowns a month for her consultancy services. Czech Radio cited an agreement in its possession showing Kleslová worked directly for a former director of the rail authority. Former director Jiří Kolar said the lack of documentation might have been the fact that most of the reports by Kleslová were given in face to face meetings. Kleslová stepped down as deputy chairwoman of the ANO party last week and has signalled she want to resign her top position in the Prague party organisation as well. She has been subject to criticism for the series of high paid consultancy positions accumulated with state companies during her political prominence.

Czech pop singer recovering from abdominal surgery

Czech pop singer Karel Gott is recovering from abdominal surgery at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, not heart surgery as previously reported, the singer’s spokesperson told journalists on Friday. Reports on the singer’s health have been filling the Czech media since he collapsed in his Prague villa on Sunday. Gott, 76, is known to be suffering from heart arrhythmia which may have led to the misleading information regarding his current health problems.

Engine driver killed in freight train collision

Two freight trains collided near the town of Velvet in north Bohemia in the early hours of Friday. One of the engine drivers was killed in the accident. According to early reports the collision was caused by human error. Several carriages were derailed and work on clearing the tracks is expected to take up most of the day. Czech Railways have arranged replacement busses on the Ustí nad Labem-Bílina line until approximately 4pm.

Petra Kvitová qualifies for Singapore WTA semi-finals in spite of loss

In tennis, Czech women’s number one Petra Kvitová has qualified for the semis of the WTA finals in Singapore in spite of losing her last match. Kvitová has fellow Czech Lucie Šafářová to thank for the semi final place against Maria Sharapova after she beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber in straight sets. Kvitová earlier lost to Spaniard Garbine Marguruza 4:6, 6:4, 5:7 and had to wait for the last group game to know her fate.