The outgoing leader of the Social Democrats, Jiři Paroubek, officially
announced his resignation on the party’s webpage on Monday. Prior to the
announcement, he appeared at the party’s headquarters in Prague to head
its traditional Monday meeting for the last time. Mr Paroubek’s closest
collaborators, including his advisor and the head of the party’s
marketing team were in attendance. The party is currently led by Mr
Paroubek’s former deputy, Bohuslav Sobotka.
In a reaction to the party’s defeat in the recent general elections on May 29, the Social Democrats’ leader had said he was planning to leave his office within seven to ten days.
Czech police uncovered a gang smuggling heroin from Kosovo to Western Europe. During a car search, police confiscated dozens of kilograms of heroin with an estimated value of about ten million crowns. Three gang members, of Czech, Polish and Albanian nationalities, were arrested and are facing prison sentences of up to 15 years, a spokesman for Czech police said on Monday. Police had been monitoring the activities of the gang for several months.
The late Czech painter Alfons Mucha’s family has filed a temporary restraining order to prevent that the painter’s masterpiece, the Slav Epic, being moved to Prague’s Veletržní Palác. The Mucha family and the Mucha foundation oppose the move of the 20-canvass work on grounds that it is merely a temporary solution. The city of Prague, which owns the Slav Epic, has said the move is due to the bad condition of Moravský Krumlov castle, where the work is currently on display. Alfons Mucha donated the gigantic Slav Epic, among the Czech nation’s best known and most recognizable pieces of art, to Prague, on the condition that the city’s authorities house it in an appropriate space. However, this has not happened to date.
During the first quarter of 2010, the average monthly wage in the Czech Republic increased by only 2.2 percent, the smallest growth in the past 10 years. Taking into account inflation, this amounts to an actual increase of about 1.5 percent, equaling 500 crowns or roughly 20 euro. According to information released by the Czech Statistical Office on Monday, Czechs earned an average of 22,748 crowns or around 800 euro a month during the first quarter of 2010. An increase in unemployment and the fact that the economy has not yet fully recovered from the global financial crisis were cited as factors of this low growth in average monthly wages.
A bi-lateral work group, which was implemented in April to accelerate the ratification of a treaty defining the framework of relations between the Czech state and the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic churches, will meet for the first time on Tuesday. Its first session is to be attended by government representatives only, the Czech deputy minister of foreign affairs, Hynek Kmoníček, said on Monday. The goal is to evaluate and possibly rewrite parts of the treaty, which will then have to be recommended for approval by an expert committee of state and church representatives.The document, which does not cover the restitution of church property seized during the communist era, was agreed in 1999, though Czech MPs refused to ratify it four years later.
The outgoing finance minister Eduard Janota has said that an additional 10 billion crowns in expenses will need to be cut in the state budget, if the government wants to retain the deficit within 5.3 percent of GDP. He made the statement during an interview for Czech TV on Sunday, saying overall it was necessary to save 62 billion through increasing revenues and cutting spending. In his view, some expensive state projects needed to be put on hold for the time being, among them the electronic surveillance of prisoners in home detention. Mr Janota said that the Finance Ministry had drawn up a transparent set of steps to deal with the deficit, but said it would be up to the finance minister in the next government to implement individual steps.
The Indian vice president and chairman of the upper chamber of parliament Hamíd Ansárí, who arrived in the Czech Republic on Sunday, has met with Czech president Václav Klaus on Monday. The two statesmen discussed trade between the two countries, a delegation of Indian businessmen is travelling with Mr Ansárí. On Tuesday, Mr. Ansárí will be signing an agreement on social and economic cooperation between India and the Czech Republic. Before leaving the country, he will be meeting with the former president Václav Havel as well as the head of the caretaker government, Prime Minister Jan Fischer. Mr. Ansárí was invited to the Czech Republic by his Czech counterpart, the chairman of the Czech Senate, Přemysl Sobotka.
The Czech prime minister and head of the current caretaker cabinet, Jan Fischer, said on Monday that a new director of the Czech Statistical Office would be named by the end of the week. He added that he had discussed the issue with President Václav Klaus and that it was on the best way of being resolved. Mr Fischer was the office’s director for six years until he was appointed to the post of prime minister last year. He had been planning to replace the acting director Jiří Křovák once a new government was formed. In May, he decided against a return to the Czech Statistical Office after being offered a post as vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
From the year 2012, passports are going to become mandatory even for children under the age of ten, who to date were not required to carry a passport when travelling. Václav Klaus signed this change in law, implementing a decision by the European Parliament under which it will no longer be sufficient for children to be registered in their parents’ passports. The new measure is meant to cut down on child trafficking and kidnapping. As a part of the new legislation, children born in the European Union will also have the right to obtain their own electronic passport, which will allow them to travel within the Schengen zone without a paper passport.
Next Sunday, Prague’s Žižkov Theatre of Jára Cimrman will be holding a public memorial event for its late director, the actor and screenwriter Ladislav Smoljak who died on Sunday at the age of 78 following a long bout of illness. Visitors will be able to pay their last respects to the renowned director early on Sunday. In the afternoon, a funeral service to be attended by close friends and relatives only will be held. A spokesman for the theater said on Monday that some upcoming performances will have to be cancelled, but that the ensemble is committed to keep putting on as many plays as possible despite the death of one of its founders. Mr Smoljak was a household name in the Czech Republic for film roles in the 1970s and ‘80s and well as for his creative collaboration with writer/director Zdeněk Svěrák.
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