Daily news summary

Russia wishes to split EU and latter must take unified position, says Czech industry minister

The minister of industry and trade, Jan Mládek, says the Czech government wishes to see the European Union take a unified position on Russia after its military incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea region. Speaking on a TV debate show on Sunday, Mr. Mládek said the worst alternative would be for the EU to adopt a radical policy pushed by some states but then not to adhere to it; Russia wishes to see a split between European states, he said. The minister also said he saw a parallel between the situation surrounding Crimea and Kosovo’s split from Serbia; this view is opposed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who is also chair of Mr. Mládek’s party the Social Democrats.

West’s good will policy towards Russia a failure, says TOP 09’s Kalousek

Miroslav Kalousek of the opposition TOP 09 says the West’s hitherto policy of good will towards Russia had definitively failed following the latter’s military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region. Speaking on a TV debate show on Sunday, the former finance minister said that the Czech Republic ought to push for the toughest possible policy toward Russia within the framework of the European Union and NATO. The country should act in concert against the “aggressor” with the other Visegrad Four states, which fall within Russia’s imperial interests, Mr. Kalousek said.

Nečas says police chief was about to be sacked before ordering operation that led to his downfall as PM

Former prime minister and Civic Democrats chairman Petr Nečas says that the head of the police’s organised crime unit, Robert Šlachta, was about to be sacked shortly before he ordered an operation that included a raid on the office of the government and precipitated Mr. Nečas’s downfall. He told the weekly Euro that Mr. Šlachta was facing the axe for failing to combat the trade in illegally produced alcohol. Mr. Nečas said the organised crime unit had become chiefly interested in hounding politicians. For his part, Mr. Šlachta describes Mr. Nečas’s comments as completely untrue.

Last June members of the unit arrested on bribe-taking charges three former Civic Democrat MPs who had received lucrative posts at semi-state enterprises after agreeing not to bring down Mr. Nečas’s government. They have since been exonerated but Mr. Nečas himself is still facing bribery charges, as are his former chief aide and current spouse Jana Nagyová and a number of others.

Czech Republic will have to return CZK 60 billion in EU subsidies next year, says minister

The Czech Republic will have to return around CZK 60 billion in European Union subsidies next year, the weekly Euro reported, quoting the minister for regional development, Věra Jourová. Her ministry is therefore drawing up an inventory of projects that are failing to draw properly on EU funds in an effort to increase efficiency. Ms. Jourová said it was becoming more likely that fears of potential funding going to waste would come true. Last year CZK 10 billion was not accessed, while this year the figure will evidently be CZK 24 billion and next year even higher at CZK 26 billion, the minister said.

Halík to donate much of Templeton Prize windfall to initiatives promoting dialogue

The Czech priest and academic Tomáš Halík says he will put most of the CZK 36 million he received this week with Templeton Prize into initiatives involved in interfaith dialogue and dialogue between believers and atheists. His involvement in such discourse was one reason that he received the religious award. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Monsignor Halík said he had a concrete project in mind to donate the money to. He will also give some of the monetary award to charity. Previous winners of the Templeton Prize include the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Strong winds cause disruptions around Czech Republic

Strong winds have caused disruptions around the Czech Republic, with the North Bohemia region particularly badly hit. Gales have knocked down trees in several places, interrupting service on a number of railway lines. Ski resorts have also been affected, with the final day of the Ski Flying World Championships in Harrachov having to be abandoned. Forecasters said the winds should ease by around 8PM on Sunday.

Sparta extend league lead with win over Příbram

Sparta Prague have extended their lead at the top of the Czech soccer league after a 1:0 away win over Příbram on Saturday evening. The leaders found the net 10 minutes from time when captain David Lafata converted a penalty. It was the striker’s 133rd goal in the Czech top flight, equalling a record set by Sparta legend Horst Seigl. However, Seigl scored a total 176 goals if his career in the previous Czechoslovak league is also counted. With 10 games remaining, Sparta are now 11 points clear of second-placed Viktoria Plzeň, who take on Slovácko on Sunday.