The caretaker prime minister of the Czech Republic, Jan Fischer, has rejected the idea that he could become the country’s next European commissioner. The news website idnes.cz reported that the two biggest parties the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats were in favour of putting Mr Fischer forward for the post. However, in a statement issued on Saturday he said he and his government had taken on the responsibility of leading the country until elections next year and he would not give up that responsibility overnight. The prime minister said he hoped the political parties could agree on a candidate; if not, the interim government is expected to select a nominee at the start of next week.
The Chamber of Deputies has voted to lift the immunity of independent MP Petr Wolf. Mr Wolf, who was elected for the Social Democrats, is accused of abuse of state subsidies. He told reporters that Friday’s vote, which was supported by the Social Democrats and the Communists, was to do with politics not legality, and was revenge for the fact he had quit the former party.
The mayor of Prague, Pavel Bém, has established a crisis committee aimed at averting a strike by workers at the city’s transport authority. At its first meeting on Saturday, the group set as its targets preventing industrial action and dealing with the company’s poor financial situation. Mr Bém described a planned strike by transport workers as irresponsible, saying they would hold Prague to ransom. For their part, they say mooted pay cuts of seven percent are unacceptable. According to unofficial information the strike could take place next Tuesday.
A new book has been published about the posters which accompanied the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. Entitled Posters of the Velvet Revolution, it collects various posters that appeared in the country’s towns and cities during that period, for instance calling for the removal of the communist government or for a general strike at the end of November that year. The authors, many of whom were university students, are mostly unknown. The book features texts in both Czech and English.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has reiterated his view that the communist regimes of Europe collapsed mainly because of internal weaknesses. He made the comments at a conference in the United States on the role played by Ronald Reagan in the fall of communism. Mr Klaus said if there were external reasons for that collapse, Mr Reagan and the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher had contributed. The Czech president has previously suggested that the role of dissidents in bringing about the end of communism was exaggerated.
Jan Fischer’s predecessor as head of the government, Mirek Topolánek, said the prime minister had expressed interest in taking the job of European commissioner. The Civic Democrats leader said after weeks of complicated negotiations Mr Fischer’s nomination was the only compromise that could be reached, and that he could not understand the latter’s complete u-turn over taking the post. He also praised the prime minister (by profession a statistician), saying he had shown he could represent the Czech Republic well on the European scene.
The renowned Czech theatre director Otomar Krejča has died at the age of 87. He was director of the National Theatre’s drama department for six years before helping found the theatre Divadlo za branou. Krejča directed over 80 productions, many of them outside the Czech Republic, in such cities as Brussels, Vienna and Havana.
The Czech Republic’s biggest left-wing party the Social Democrats have backed the threat of strike from the capital’s transport workers. Deputy leader Zdeněk Škromach said after a meeting of the party’s leadership on Saturday that Prague City Hall had adopted an irresponsible approach that could not lead to a reasonable agreement. Mr Škromach said if Prague citizens were angered by a strike, they should aim that anger at the city authorities, not the workers.
The bird flu virus has been found in a flock of wild ducks in South Bohemia; experts say the case is not dangerous. The flock of 280 birds in which the virus was detected is kept for breeding and will be destroyed. Authorities from the city of České Budějovice, to which the flock belongs, say that the small size of the flock and the conditions in which the animals were living make the chance of further infection very unlikely.