The former general director of the Siemens group’s Czech branch, Pavel Kafka, worked as an agent for the communist secret police (StB) in the past. In its Saturday edition, the Czech daily Lidové noviný reported that Mr Kafka, who is currently a member of the country’s Research and Development council, was given the task of spying on students and journalists. Mr Kafka joined the Communist Party when he was 18 years old. After working for the Foreign Ministry in the Czech Republic, he was sent to work as a press attaché at Czech embassies in Japan and Greece. After the Velvet Revolution, Mr Kafka started working for the German engineering conglomerate Siemens. He was appointed to the Czech Research and Development council by Prime Minister Jan Fischer last year.
A committee of experts from all three parties in the process of forming a
government coalition has suggested that budget cuts of ten percent in
welfare and social allowances be implemented. The committee will now hand
over its recommendation to the negotiating teams of the possible
coalition’s parties, the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs.
Political analysts believe that such cuts may well become a part of the
future government’s coalition program.
The three parties are yet to reach agreement on the last remaining issue of coalition negotiations, tax increases. While the Civic Democrats oppose implementing higher taxes, Public Affairs would like to raise income tax for the country’s highest earners.
The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has again issued a storm warning for large parts of the country. After record temperatures of up to 33 degrees and humid conditions on Saturday, strong thunderstorms may occur in Moravia and south-eastern Bohemia. Strong precipitation may cause river levels to rise, flooding of cellars and garages may occur in some parts of the country. In some locations, wind speeds could reach up to 90 km/h. Meteorologists expect that following this week’s heat wave, temperatures will drop to around 20 degrees Celsius on Sunday.
On Saturday, the citizens’ group Stolpersteine is to lay 32 new stones commemorating victims of the Holocaust throughout Prague. The stones, which measure ten by ten centimeters and are implemented into the pavement, display information about victims of the Nazi genocide who lived in Prague. As part of the project, such stones are placed in front of the victims’ last place of residence before their deportation. Since the European initiative was brought to the Czech Republic three years ago, eighty such stones were installed throughout the country.
The Senate has once again added the Masin brothers, who escaped to the
West from Czechoslovakia in 1953, to its list of personalities to be taken
into consideration by Czech president Václav Klaus for the country’s
highest honor, the Order of the White Lion. Among this year’s 21
candidates for the honor are television director František Filip and
War II pilot Josef Bernat. The Masin brothers have been nominated for the
Order of the White Lion five times but have never actually received it.
Critics of the group around the Masin brothers, one of the few to resist the Communists, committing acts of sabotage, consider the two brothers murderers. In the course of their dramatic escape, they shot a policeman. The group also killed a wages clerk and two StB secret police officers during earlier robberies of arms stores.
The most likely next prime minister, Petr Nečas, has announced his six picks for senior offices in the Civic Democrats party. The announcement comes days before the Civic Democrats’ party congress, to be held on June 19 and 20, when a new party leadership will be elected. Among the candidates for offices such as deputy party leader are former foreign minister Alexandr Vondra and former deputy chairwoman of the lower house, Miroslava Němcová. Mr Nečas himself is applying for the position of party leader. He said that the Civic Democrats were aware of the signal for change that voters had given his party at the recent lower house elections and that this would also translate into personnel changes.
A Czech woman has been able to find her son, who she had not heard from in 22 years, through the social networking site facebook, the news server novinky.cz reported on Friday. The woman’s son, who lives in Canada, did not believe she was his mother when she first contacted him. He said his father had told him that she died in a car accident. The young man had left the Czech Republic for Canada as a child with the woman’s former husband, a professional soldier. The woman claims that after the couple divorced, her son’s father had threatened to kill her if she did not give him custody of their child.
On Saturday, the majority of Prague’s museums will stay open past midnight as part of the city’s annual museum night, now in its sixth year. Most of the 53 participating institutions will be open to visitors from 7 p.m. free of charge. Special concerts, theater performances and lectures will be part of the program. The capital’s transport authority has extended its metro services until 1:30 am to accommodate visitors of museum night; special busses will also be in effect. Last year, some 180,000 visitors attended the event.
Hundreds of people gathered at a mass grave in the Central Bohemian
village of Lidice on Saturday to commemorate the victims of a massacre
took place in 1942. In a speech, the head of the Senate, Přemysl Sobotka,
warned that neo-Nazism was a growing threat to Czech society. He added
it was time to learn from the past. The commemoration ceremony continued
front of the village’s museum with a performance by Czech singer Lucie
Bílá. Some six-hundred children from child choirs across the country
concerts as well.
Following the assassination of the German governor of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich, Nazis razed the village to the ground on June 10, 1942, and executed 340 of Lidice’s 503 inhabitants.
The singer-songwriter Bob Dylan performed at Prague’s O2 Arena on Friday
night. Some 6000 visitors attended the two-hour performance; organizers
described the atmosphere as piping hot. The audience, mostly die-hard
cheered and sung along as Dylan played a selection of older and newer
One of the most significant figures in post-war US culture, the 69-year-old has performed five times in the Czech Republic since his first concert in the country in 1994. Dylan’s last concert in the capital was five years ago, while he performed in Ostrava in 2008.
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