Presidential candidate Jan Švejnar has made his campaign budget public on Monday. This comes in light of comments made by Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who questioned the funding of Mr Švejnar’s campaign. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Mr Topolánek said that the campaign could be linked to corruption, suggesting there was a connection between Mr Švejnar’s seat on the supervisory board of ČSOB bank and his campaign’s funding. He also suggested that Mr Švejnar must have spent much more on his campaign than the officially declared half a million crowns. Jan Švejnar, who is financing his own campaign, said the costs have so far amounted to 750 thousand crowns.
Czech Romany children living in ghettos are usually much less successful at school than other children, according to a recent study commissioned by the Foundation for Development of Civic Society (NROS). The survey conducted among 500 children in schools in the close vicinity of Roma ghettoes shows that one third of Romany children end up in special classes, compared to one in ten children in other areas. Social exclusion is said to be one of the major factors affecting children’s performance at school.
The government on Monday earmarked development funds for towns and villages located in the vicinity of a planned US radar base. The municipalities in the Brdy region are set to receive a total of 1.25 billion crowns (approximately 70 million US dollars), which is three times less than they had asked for. The money is mainly to be invested into the development of local infrastructure, and the funds will be made available even if plans to build a US radar in the region fall through.
A neo-Nazi demonstration is scheduled to take place in Plzeň on March 1. Far-right activists were originally planning to march through Plzeň on January 19, the anniversary of the first transport of Jews from the city in 1942. The town’s authorities had originally allowed the march to take place, but in the face of strong media pressure, they cancelled the event, only two days before it was due to take place. The radicals plan to march past the Great Synagogue in Plzeň, as it was planned before.
The government approved on Monday a draft amendment that would allow the dismissal of chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of courts. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil is hoping to change the current practice that makes the dismissal of court officials more or less impossible. Under the draft amendment their dismissal should be decided by the Supreme Court’s disciplinary proceedings. The draft law also includes measures which would make the disciplinary proceedings more impartial.
The Czech Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust has called on the government to find a new location for a pig farm built on the site of a wartime concentration camp for Romanies in Lety, south Bohemia. Last week, the Czech authorities were reprimanded for the second time by the European Parliament over the controversial issue. Romany organizations have been calling for the farm's relocation for many years. The committee said on Monday it would like to see a dignified monument erected on the site in honour of the camp’s victims. According to historical documents over 300 people died in the camp and another 500 ended up in the Auschwitz extermination camp.
An armed and masked man attacked a police escort in the north Bohemian town of Sokolov on Monday morning and freed the prisoner. The incident occurred in a local hospital, where the prisoner was being escorted for a medical check up. The assailant disarmed the police officer and is now on the run with the prisoner.
The case of Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, a former prosecutor who took part in the 1950s communist show trial of Milada Horáková, will probably return to the Prague City Court. Mrs Brožová, now aged 86, was sentenced last year to eight years in prison for judicial murder. The High Court on Monday discussed her appeal against the verdict which means the case will probably be retuned to a lower-level court for further deliberation. Milada Horáková, a lawyer and politician, is the only woman to have been executed during Czechoslovakia's 1950s show trials.
The head of the Green Party Martin Bursík said on Sunday he was ready to discuss the bill on property settlement between the state and churches with the Social Democratic Party, which threatened not to support it. Under the deal, a third of church property confiscated by the communist regime will be returned to its original owners and compensation will be paid for the rest. The compensation was set at some 83 billion Czech crowns (approximately 4.7 billion US dollars). It is to be paid out over the next 60 years at a rate of interest set a 4.8 percent, with the overall figure expected to reach some 270 billion crowns. The social Democrats and the Communist criticised the government coalition for not discussing the issue with them.