Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for August 23, 2021

President accuses counter-intelligence of wiretapping, dramatic finale at Czech Masters, Dukovany nuclear tender could be announced in the fall. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 23.08.2021 09:57:00 (updated on 23.08.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Zeman accuses Czech counter-intelligence chief of wiretapping

Czech President Miloš Zeman has accused counter-intelligence (BIS) chief Michal Koudelka of ordering wiretapping on Presidential staff several years ago. Zeman said that, as he has no mobile phone, the wiretapping was a way of targeting him personally. Zeman claimed a BIS senior officer as the source of his knowledge regarding the wiretapping. BIS responded to the allegations by saying that it always acts in accordance with the law, while refusing to comment on Zeman’s particular accusations. Zeman said he told Prime Minister Andrej Babiš about the wiretapping and that Babiš claimed to have put a stop to the monitoring of phones, but Zeman says the wiretapping continued even after this. BIS wiretapping is alleged to have targeted Zeman’s economic advisor and others. Zeman said he will not release more information ahead of October’s elections as long as Koudelka loses his position at the top of BIS.

Dramatic finish to Czech Masters sees Johannes Veerman take home title

U.S. golfer Johannes Veerman won his first European Tour title at the Czech Masters on Sunday after late errors from overnight leader Tapio Pulkkanen. Finland’s Pulkkanen led with two holes to go, but bogeyed on the 17th hole before landing in water on the 18th. The mistakes allowed Veerman to finish two strokes ahead of Pulkkanen in the Czech Republic’s most prestigious golf tournament at Vysoký Újezd. Former Open champion Henrik Stenson finished in a tie for fourth place after earlier sharing the lead. Along with his first European title, Veerman will take home the €1 million winner’s prize for the tournament.

Dukovany nuclear tender may be announced in November

The tender for the major nuclear development project at Dukovany may be announced before the end of the year, said Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček. The announcement of the tender may come in November or December depending on legal approval and the completion of safety questionnaires by the three candidates competing for the contract. The participants in the tender will be EDF from France, Westinghouse from the USA, and KHNP from South Korea. Russian and Chinese companies have not been included in the tender process. Havlíček said the total evaluation time for the offers will be 28 to 29 months, including a qualification round and the tender itself. The Minister said the price of the construction should be between CZK 140 and 160 billion, depending on the strength of the Czech currency and the method of raising money for the project.

50 percent stake in Leo Express bought by Spanish state provider

The Spanish Ministry of Finance has allowed state railway company Renfe Operadora to buy a 50 percent stake in the private Czech railway company Leo Express. The acquisition was agreed in March, but approval was not granted for the deal until now. The value of the purchase was not disclosed. Renfe said that the acquisition is part of the company’s international expansion efforts. The company is looking abroad for more business opportunities and expects that by 2028, 20 percent of its business will be abroad. Leo Express operates in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, and will soon enter Germany too. The successful private railway and bus carrier was founded in 2010.

Air accidents over the Czech Republic decrease by a third

As a result of the Covid crisis and associated restrictions on air traffic, the number of air accidents in Czech airspace fell significantly last year. A total of 73 air or parachute accidents were recorded over the Czech Republic in 2020, which is a decrease of almost a third year-on-year. The number of all reported incidents also fell by a similar amount. The reduction in accidents was proportionally less, however, than the reduction in flights over Czech airspace, which was 58 percent lower than the previous year. Most accidents concerned small aircraft up to 2,250 kilograms, mainly small or ultralight aircraft, gliders, helicopters and balloons. Air traffic and accidents have fallen the world over. In the last year, there were eight major aircraft accidents across the globe, resulting in a total of 314 casualties.

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