President Václav Klaus approved an amendment to the election law on Friday that will redistrict 27 out of 81 electoral constituencies for the Czech Senate. The amendment, prepared by the government and passed by Parliament earlier this week, will change the district’s boundaries mainly in central Bohemia to match the changing demographics of the area when an increasing number of people are moving outside the Czech capital. The Interior Ministry rejected accusations of gerrymandering by the opposition Social Democrats, pointing out that every government has had to change the districts to make sure the respective number of voters complies with the law. The amended law will also affect nine electoral districts in which Senate elections will be held in the autumn.
In related news, the Czech Defence Ministry protested on Thursday against Russia’s reaction to the Czech-American radar deal. Following Tuesday’s signing of the agreement that will allow for the positioning of a US tracking radar base on Czech territory, Russian defence ministry officials said that Moscow would consider taking military counter-measures. The Czech Defense Ministry said that Prague wanted to maintain an open dialogue with Russia but that it was concerned by the persisting hostile statements of Russian officials towards the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic will donate 4 million euros to Kosovo, a Czech Foreign Ministry official said on Friday during an international donors’ conference held in Brussels. The gathering is expected to raise some 1 billion euros for the former Serbian province that declared independence earlier this year.
The Czech Republic and the steel producer ArcelorMittal reached an agreement on Thursday which will bring an international arbitration against the country to an end. ArcelorMittal, which is the world’s largest producer of steel, launched arbitration proceedings against the Czech Republic in 2005 over the Czech government’s decision to exclude the company from the privatization of the steel works in Vítkovice, northern Moravia. The London-based steel giant sued the country for 26 billion crowns, or more than 1.7 billion US dollars. According to the agreement, the Czech Republic will sell 11 percent of shares in the steel works to ArcelorMittal; in return, the steel producer will drop all claims against the Czech Republic.
Russia sharply reduced deliveries of oil to the Czech Republic, the news website euro.cz reported on Friday. Deliveries of oil have been decreasing throughout the week and on Thursday, Russia announced that the oil supplies planned for July would decrease significantly from 500,000 to less than 300,000 tons of crude. The Czech Foreign Ministry said they were looking into the situation to find out what was happening; it is likely that technical problems along the Druzhba pipeline are to blame.
Fifty three percent of Czechs believe Parliament should not ratify the Lisbon Treaty, a poll carried out by the STEM agency revealed on Friday. The number of people opposing the treaty’s ratification in the Czech Republic has risen slightly since February. The ballot also showed that only 23 percent of people understand what the effects the treaty’s ratification could have on the country.
The energy giant ČEZ applied on Friday for an assessment of the
environmental impact the Temelín nuclear power plant may have after its
completion. The analysis, known as EIA, is necessary for reaching a
decision whether or not the South Bohemian power plant can be completed.
The coalition Green Party said they would leave the government if the
decision to complete the plant is made.
The construction of the Temelín nuclear power plant began in 1987; after the fall of communism, only two of the four originally planned blocks were finished and put into use in 2006.
The renovation of Prague’s Charles Bridge has come under criticism for being too hasty, the daily Pravo reported on Friday. Companies renovating one of Prague’s most significant monuments have been criticized by the Culture Ministry for replacing some of the original stones of the 14th century bridge too fast. The renovation has also been criticized by a leading Prague preservationist NGO, the Club for Old Prague. The Culture Ministry’s Monument Inspection Authority will not look into the renovation procedures. Renovation of the entire bridge is expected to be completed by 2020.
The head of the Czech Greens, Martin Bursík, has called on his party to hold an extraordinary congress in a bid to reaffirm his mandate. The environment minister intends to assemble his party for a conference in September, at which party members would vote for a new leadership and new party statutes. Analysts say that Mr Bursík is seeking to shore up support within his party ahead of key votes on the US radar and the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Bursík’s critics within the party say his request for a conference is undemocratic, and that they are considering blocking the move.
Thursday sees the most expensive film ever made in Central Europe, ‘Bathory’, go on general release in Prague. The release follows the movie’s premiere at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday, where the film received mixed reviews. The Slovak-Czech-Hungarian-British co-production retraces the life of the countess Erzebeth Bathory, a mysterious 17th-century Hungarian noblewoman thought to be a vampire. British actress Anna Friel stars as the bloodthirsty countess, playing alongside Czech star Karel Roden, who fills one of the two male leads.
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