Hundreds of people, including politicians and foreign guests, took part
in a ceremony Saturday to remember the Nazi massacre that levelled the
central Bohemian village of Lidice 64 years ago. The ceremonies
included the opening of an updated and expanded exhibit at the
newly-reconstructed Lidice Memorial Museum. The original museum, opened
in 1962, began to undergo extensive reconstruction last year.
In addition, former Czech Cultural Minister, Pavel Dostal, was awarded honorary citizenship by the town of Lidice, in memoriam. Mr. Dostal died in 2005 and during his time as cultural minister, he worked to revitalize the Lidice Memorial.
The village of Lidice was crushed by Nazi forces on 10 June 1942 in retaliation for the murder of the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. 340 villagers were murdered by the Nazis in Lidice.
The Social Democratic Party continues to take the position that one of
its members should become the new chairman of the Chamber of Deputies.
The Social Democrats came second in the recent elections, and say that
they deserve to fill this important administrative post. The Social
Democratic leadership says that it will not exchange this position for
support of Mirek Topolanek's proposed Civic Democratic-led coalition
According to deputy party leader Zdenek Skromach, the Social Democractic leader, Jiri Paroubek, is considered a front-runner for the chairman's post by his own party. Czech law does not allow for the posts of prime minister and chairman of the lower house to be held simultaneously, which is something that Mr. Paroubek does not consider problematic. Until a new government is formed, Mr. Paroubek remains the Prime Minister.
With the World Cup underway in Germany, Czech - German border crossings are registering a marked increase in traffic volume. The Saturday edition of the daily Pravo reports that in addition to football fans travelling to Germany by car, the Czech border police are also encountering many suspected prostitutes who are crossing the border into Germany, many of them from poorer states in central Europe. Customs agents at the west Bohemian Rozvadov crossing are registering approximately 25 Bulgarian women per day, the majority of them thought to be prostitutes. Border guards have tightened control measures, conducting thorough searches for drugs and weapons. Czech customs agents are also checking to make sure that football fans from the United Kingdom who have been banned from match attendance are not attempting to enter Germany by car from the Czech Republic.
All 74 newly-elected Social Democratic MPs have vowed not to support a
government coalition made up of the Civic Democrats, the Christian
Democrats, and the Green Party if such a coalition is led by the Civic
Democratic Chairman, Mirek Topolanek. This declaration has been signed by
all the new Social Democratic MPs and is important because Mr. Topolanek
needs to push the balance of support to 101 seats, rather than the
proposed coalition's current mandate of 100 seats in the Chamber of
Social Democratic leader, Jiri Paroubek, is in favour of a caretaker government, though he admits that if he were entrusted with forming a government he would aim for a political government, and not the caretaker variety. Meanwhile, deputy chairman of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, has said that the Civic Democratic Party should rid itself of the illusion that it will secure the number of votes possible to govern.
A vote-of-confidence in the new government is expected to take place on June 27th.
The Social Democratic Party will most likely not appeal the election
results, as its leader Jiri Paroubek suggested last weekend after the
votes were counted. In an unexpected speech on election night, the
defeated Mr. Paroubek refused to acknowledge that the Civic Democrats
won the elections, and he likened the results to an "assault on
democracy not seen since February 1948," when the Communists took
power. After meeting with President Klaus at Prague Castle on Thursday,
Mr. Paroubek made a public apology for his emotionally-charged speech.
Now one week after the elections, Mr. Paroubek says that it is unlikely that his party will file an appeal with the Supreme Court. Eleven appeals have already been filed during the past week, and Mr. Paroubek is satisfied that the courts will be busy enough with this matter.
The outgoing Defence Minister Karel Kunhl has signed a major deal between the Czech Republic and Austrian manufacturer Steyr for some 200 armoured personnel carriers. The deal is worth around 1 billion US dollars and is the most expensive order in the Czech military's history. The deal was expected to be signed earlier in the year but was postponed due to legal complaints by an unsuccessful bidder. Now, the signing by an outgoing minister whose party, the Freedom Union, failed to get re-elected to the lower house, has been criticised by the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. The party's deputy leader Petr Necas has nevertheless said that the Civic Democrats will respect the venture.
The Social Democrats have confirmed that they will not support a centre-right government led by the Civic Democratic Party, which won last week's general election. Members from both parties met officially for the first time on Friday to discuss possibilities for the country's future. The Civic Democrats have been negotiating to form a centre-right government with the Christian Democrats, and the Greens, but any such coalition will be one mandate short of the majority needed in the lower house. After coming in second in the election last week the Social Democrats under Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said that they would only be willing to support a caretaker government, and on Friday Jiri Paroubek reiterated that the party had not changed its stance. Mirek Topolanek, the head of the Civic Democrats, has pointed out that Friday's meeting was only the beginning of negotiations.
A forty-year-old man from the Czech Republic has been arrested on the border between Turkey and Greece, apparently smuggling some 30 kilograms of heroin, worth the equivalent of around 1 million US dollars on the Czech black market. The drug was reportedly hidden in sixty packets in his car. The discovery was made by customs officials using a specially-trained sniffer dog.
The Supervision department of the Interior Ministry will review all charges pressed in the so-called 'Kubice case'. Four days ahead of the general election Jan Kubice, a highly placed police official from the country's squad against organised crime, presented a confidential report in the lower house suggesting that organised crime was gaining influence in the state administration. Parts of the report were leaked to the media. Mr Kubice has denied any role in that leak or any wrongdoing, but he is being sued, for instance, by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek for speculation allegedly in part of the report that Mr Paroubek had sexually-abused the daughter of a family friend.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill on that would have substantial changes in the health care sector, the president's spokesman Petr Hajek said on Friday. Mr Klaus was reportedly critical of the bill - backed by health Minister David Rath - because in his view it would have unjustly centralised key decisions on agreements between health facilities and health insurance companies in the hands of the health minister - denying contractual freedom. The bill is the fourth that Mr Klaus vetoed in recent days; following general elections his decision can not be overridden by the lower house.
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