Petr Wolf has become the fourth Social Democrat MP to leave the party’s
deputies group since the last elections in 2006. Mr Wolf quit the deputies
group after receiving threats over his positive
stance towards US plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic, a
project the opposition Social Democrats are firmly against.
MPs Miloš Melčák and Michal Pohanka were expelled from the Social Democrats for supporting the current Civic Democrat-led government, while Evžen Snítilý met a similar fate after voting for the Civic Democrats’ candidate for president, Václav Klaus.
The Visegrad Four countries are setting up a new cultural organisation in the Czech city of Olomouc. Representatives of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have signed a document establishing the Central European Forum; it will focus on art, music, film and theatre in the post-WWII period from the Visegrad countries, as well as Germany and Austria. The new institution will be paid for by the European Union.
Minister Cyril Svoboda has criticised a decision not to hear a serious
child abuse case behind closed doors. He told the daily Lidové noviny
the fact the Kuřim case was being reported on in such detail could
threaten the health of the two boys whose mother and aunt are on trial.
Minister Svoboda said Judge Pavel Goth was more concerned with becoming
famous than protecting Jakub and Ondřej Mauer, who allegedly suffered
appalling abuse at the hands of a number of adults.
Court proceedings have received a huge amount of attention since the hearing began last week. The story has also been picked up by the international media, though the facts have sometimes been distorted; the British tabloid the Sun for instance ran an article with the headline “Boy eaten by family”.
The rock group Jethro Tull are playing a special outdoor concert beneath the castle at Loket near Karlovy Vary in west Bohemia on Saturday evening. The show is part of the British band’s 40th anniversary celebrations and has been sold out for several months. Former Deep Purple member Ritchie Blackmore played a sold out show at the same venue in 2006.
The body of a woman has been found in the Orlík Dam near Prague, a fire service spokesperson said. The corpse was found in a plastic container, after fishermen alerted the authorities to a strange object floating on the dam. Doctors said the body had been in the water for at least three months. In the early 1990s the bodies of two businessmen and a policeman were found in barrels in the Orlík Dam. Two people received life sentences for those killings, while others – including a police officer – received lengthy jail terms.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will come to Prague on July 8 to
sign a treaty with the Czech Republic on the location of an American radar
base in central Bohemia, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The newspaper said
the date had been confirmed by two members of the Czech government. Ms
had previously postponed a visit to Prague to sign the document, which has
yet to be approved by the Czech Parliament. Negotiations on a second
on various technical aspects of the base have not yet been completed.
The US radar base would be part of a global anti-missile shield. Polls have consistently shown around two thirds of Czechs are opposed to the building of the base. Opponents have said they will hold protests during the secretary of state’s visit, the details of which are being kept under wraps.
A new production of the Bartered Bride received its premiere at the Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival on Friday night. The new version of Bedřich Smetana’s popular opera is by Prague’s National Theatre, where it will be staged following the annual festival in the composer’s home town. (Radio Prague wrongly reported last week that the new production of the Bartered Bride was opening the festival on Wednesday. Sorry.)
The governor of the Czech National Bank, Zdeněk Tůma, is to discuss the strong crown with the Czech Association of Exporters next week, the group’s Jiří Grund told the news website aktualne.cz. Mr Grund said that exporters did not want to dictate to the central bank; nevertheless, he said, an interest rate rise had lead to speculation and a further strengthening of the crown. He said a quarter-point cut in interest rates would help Czech exporters. The crown again set new records against both the euro and the US dollar this week.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said that EU policy towards Cuba will be reassessed annually with regards to human rights. He described the move as an active policy approach after the EU agreed to lift sanctions against the Caribbean state. The sanctions were originally agreed in 2003 (then later temporarily suspended) in an attempt to pressure the Cuban regime to improve its record on human rights. The Czech Republic has been strongly against the lifting of sanctions in the past. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg stressed on Friday that there are more than 200 political prisoners held in appalling conditions in Cuba; he made clear the Czech Republic would continue to push for their release.