The Christian Democrats of the Czech governing coalition have unveiled an
internet project designed to increase awareness of the plight of political
prisoners in Cuba. The project is called “prisoners of conscience -we
know about you” and every day the party’s web site will profile the
fate of one political prisoner. Although the Czech Republic approved the
lifting of sanctions against Cuba in June of this year some Czech
politicians consider this to have been a mistake, believing that diplomatic
and business ties should not be reintroduced without democratic reforms in
Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque warned on Tuesday that President Raul Castro would never renounce socialism, just days before Havana is to hold landmark talks with European Union leaders. The EU delegation will include French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, his Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg and EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel.
The Czech government has criticized the extent of EU crisis intervention, arguing that it could lead to distortions on the market. Speaking on the eve of an EU summit on crisis aid to the financial sector, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said he was ready to be “tough” in using his veto to oppose any proposal put by eurozone countries to all 27 EU members that goes beyond the framework of “basic common sense”. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said the Czech Republic was prepared to increase the guarantee on savings accounts up to 100,000 euros only if other EU members backpedaled on providing blanket guarantees. On Tuesday the government approved a proposal to provide guarantees of up to 50,000 euros.
President Vaclav Klaus is to pay a three day official visit to Ireland, the president’s office announced on Wednesday. Mr. Klaus is scheduled to meet with his Irish counterpart President Mary McAleese and Prime Minister Brian Cowen. The Lisbon treaty, rejected by Irish voters in a referendum this year, is expected to be high on the agenda of the talks. President Klaus who remains strongly opposed to the treaty, welcomed the outcome of the Irish referendum saying “liberty and reason had defeated elitist plans and European bureaucracy”.
One of the country's Second World War heroes, RAF pilot Stanislav Hlučka has died at the age of eighty-eight. Brigadier Hlučka, who received a number of state awards and distinctions for bravery, was arrested after the 1948 communist coup in Czechoslovakia and sentenced to a year in prison. After being released he was not allowed to return to the military and earned his living by manual labour. He was rehabilitated in the 1960s and allowed to return to the military. After the fall of communism he assisted in the rehabilitation of pilots who had been persecuted by the communists and received the Order of T. G. Masaryk.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech will miss Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Slovenia because of a thigh injury. The team’s spokesman said Wednesday morning’s practice had showed that the injury to Petr Čech's thigh muscle limited him to such a point that couldn't play at 100 percent. The Chelsea keeper, 26, sustained the injury during the Czech Republic's 2-1 loss to Poland on Saturday.
The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes has ruled out that the document stating that Czech born writer Milan Kundera had reported an agent from the West to the communist authorities in 1950 could be fake. The institute’s spokesman Jiří Reichl said the document was obviously authentic and bore the signature of Jaroslav Rosický, a former member of the communist police who worked in the respective department at the time. The institute has however conceded that the evidence against Kundera is not absolute. That would require finding all survivors which the institute has been unable to do. Mr. Kundera, who lives in France, spoke to the media for the first time in 25 years to defend himself, telling the CTK news agency the allegations were fabricated lies intended to destroy his reputation.
The opposition Social Democrats have tabled a proposal for a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Topolánek’s centre-right government. Lower house chairman Miloslav Vlček said the vote would most likely take place next Wednesday, October 22. The main opposition party has already forced three votes of no-confidence in the government but failed to overturn it each time. Now it is hoping that party infighting within the coalition and a highly publicized corruption scandal involving the ruling Civic Democrats could turn the scales in its favour. The no-confidence vote is to take place after the first round of Senate and regional elections due to be held this weekend.
Stock prices on the Prague Bourse sank by 7.95 percent on Wednesday, pulling the PX index back below the 1,000-point mark after two days on the upside. The PX slumped to 998.8 points in another sell-off after an aggregate 21 percent gain on Monday and Tuesday caused by a global recovery in reaction to steps taken by governments and central banks to combat the financial crisis. All blue chips in Prague retreated on Wednesday, led by used-car dealer AAA Auto, down 14.84 percent, and developer Orco, off 14.57 percent.
Czech EU presidency in the first half of next year will require about 1.7 billion crowns from the state budget, according to the government draft budget for next year. Most money will be used for financing events organised by the office of the Czech Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexander Vondra, as well as by the foreign and interior ministers. Some 15 million crowns will be used for security measures. The EU presidency is expected to cost the state budget altogether 3.3 billion crowns.
Entrepreneur Bohumír Ďuričko, who is in custody for murder, had in the past donated money to both the Civic and the Social Democrats, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Tuesday. The paper highlights widespread allegations that Czech politicians have contacts with suspect individuals. Ďuričko, who is reported to have collaborated with the communist secret service, got into a heated dispute with the son of Václav Kočka, a rich entrepreneur and former advisor to opposition leader Jiří Paroubek and killed him at a restaurant where they had been invited to attend the opposition leader’s book launch. Although Mr. Paroubek had long gone by the time the shooting occurred, the incident has hurt his party’s image ahead of the Senate and local elections due to take place this weekend.
Czech president burns giant red underpants at press briefing
Restoration work on Prague’s Astronomical Clock reveals hidden secrets
Czech restaurants and pubs facing serious shortage of workers
Václav Klaus: Russia not a threat to Czech Republic, unlike EU
Ozzy Osbourne performing in Prague with Hollywood Vampires, featuring Johnny Depp