Hundreds of people attended the funeral of Milan Paumer, a member of a
controversial group who shot their way across the Iron Curtain in the
1950s. The funeral ceremony, held in the town of Poděbrady, was attended
by some of the country’s leading politicians, cultural figures and
anti-communist fighters. Among those present was Prime Minister Petr
Nečas, who said in a speech that Milan Paumer’s decision to stand up
against oppression was heroic. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg,
Defense Minister Alexander Vondra and the heads of both houses of
Parliament were also in attendance.
Mr Paumer remains a controversial figure in the Czech Republic, where some people see him as a hero for fighting the Communists at a time when there was little resistance to the regime. Others condemn him for escaping at the cost of several human lives.
A Czech scout died in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas on Wednesday, after being seriously injured while vacationing there in late July. The 19-year-old, who died on this birthday, was hit by building materials that fell from an unsupervised construction site. Another six members of the 22-member group of Czech tourists he was travelling with have already been released from the Kaunas hospital last week.
A Prague city court ruled on Wednesday that the Security Services Archive must remove the name of actor Jan Kanyza from its list of communist-era secret police (StB) collaborators. Mr Kanyza had sued the Security Services Archive, arguing that including his name on the list was not justified and that it should be removed. The interior ministry in the past has claimed that Mr Kanyza collaborated with the StB, citing the testimony of one of the StB’s former employees.
The Office for the Protection of Competition in June received a second anonymous tip-off to investigate the Czech army’s purchase of Spanish-made transport planes of the CASA type, the website euro.cz reported on Wednesday. According to the tip-off, the ministry bought those planes without announcing a bid for a proper public tender, thus breaking the law of economic competition. The tip-off was also given to the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and Transparency International.
The government presented its policy statement at a session in Prague on Wednesday. The statement, stemming from the government’s coalition agreement, will be put to the vote before being submitted to Parliament next week. It outlines five key priorities, such as lowering the state budget deficit, reforming the health and pension systems, some changes in the education system and curbing corruption in the public sector. Prime Minister Petr Nečas’ center-right government will ask Parliament for a vote of confidence on August 10th.
The Swedish textile retailer H&M Hennes and Mauritz has seen its sales drop by about 92 million crowns in the Czech Republic this year as compared to 2009, despite the fact that the company opened three new stores in the Czech Republic, bringing its total number to 19. This represents a continuing a trend from the previous year, when H&M Hennes and Mauritz’s sales dropped by about 19 million crowns. Experts say that this is part of a bigger trend in the textile industry, which is going through a severe crisis. The sales of the country’s 37 biggest textile retailers dropped by 600 million Czech crowns in 2009.
For the second time, Prague’s Supreme Court has overturned a Prague city court verdict regarding an ownership dispute over one half of the capital’s famous Lucerna palace between former president Václav Havel’s sister-in-law Dagmar Havlová and the real-estate firm Chemapol. According to the Supreme Court, the city court’s judge failed to properly determine the actual value of the Lucerna palace real estate. In the city court’s verdict, the ruling judge argued that when Mrs Havlová bought half of the palace from Chemapol, the firm was threatened by bankruptcy and sold it at a much lower price than the actual value of the real estate. The judge based her estimate of the real estate’s value on the price that Chemapol paid the former president when it bought the other half of the palace in 1997.
The city of Prague and the town of Moravský Krumlov have not been able to reach an agreement regarding the move of Czech art-deco painter Alphonse Mucha’s Slav Epic from Moravský Krumlov to the Czech capital. The city of Prague is now going to file an appeal against last week’s court decision that barred anybody from handling the twenty-canvass masterpiece until a controversy over ownership rights had been cleared. The two city halls have been at odds over the fate of the precious Slav Epic after Prague city hall attempted to get it moved to the city’s Veletržní Palác art gallery. It has been housed in the Moravský Krumlov castle for over half a century, partly because a designated home for the painting in Prague was never built, which was one of Mucha’s conditions when he donated the Slav Epic to the city in 1913.
The new Czech thriller Kajínek will premiere in Prague’s Slovanský Dům on Wednesday night. The film’s male lead, Russian actor Konstantin Lavronenko, will be in attendance. The film is based on the life story of Jiří Kajínek, a notorious Czech prisoner who is serving a life sentence for a double contract murder. Kajínek maintains that he is innocent and was framed by the police. His case was recently re-opened.
Under the newly installed government’s austerity measures, the Czech Academy of Science’s budget for next year is to be cut by 1.4 billion Czech crowns. Its director, Jiří Drahoš, has said he is convinced that the cuts would have drastic consequences for the academy. He added that should the budget be reduced by that amount, he would be forced to close some research centers and staff would have to be cut dramatically. The academy’s 2010 budget is 5.1 billion Czech crowns, 12.5 percent less than in the previous year. Mr Drahoš believes that the only possible motivation behind such frequent budget cuts could be a long-term plan to close the academy down.
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