- Mayors in around 600 municipalities have now removed portraits of President Václav Klaus in protest at a controversial amnesty he declared.
- President Klaus says public opposition to the amnesty has been stoked by what he dubbed media manipulation.
- The minister of health, Leoš Heger, is proposing a complete ban on smoking in Czech pubs and restaurants.
- The three-party Czech government is set to continue in its present formation.
- Two tourists who were mugged in Prague succeeded in apprehending their assailants.
600 mayors have now removed portrait of president in protest against amnesty
Mayors in around 600 municipalities in the Czech Republic have now taken down portraits of President Václav Klaus in protest at a controversial amnesty he announced on New Year’s Day. The protest comes two months before Mr. Klaus steps down after his second term in office. In some parts of the country, school directors have also removed the president’s portrait from classrooms. Under President Klaus’s amnesty over 7,000 prisoners are being released early, while – more controversially – cases dragging through the courts for eight years or longer have been thrown out.
Klaus: Opposition to amnesty stoked by media
For his part, President Klaus says public opposition to the amnesty has been stoked by what he dubbed media manipulation. In an address on Czech Television on Tuesday evening, he said a “cheap, one-sided and mendacious” campaign against the amnesty was motivated by opponents’ wish to weaken his position before his mandate comes to an end in early March.
Schwarzenberg floats idea of compensation for those harmed by amnesty
The leader of coalition party TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg, said on Tuesday that if the amnesty was found to have harmed citizens’ rights, the government should look for a way to compensate them. The views of Mr. Schwarzenberg – who is standing in presidential elections that get underway on Friday – were relayed to journalists by his TOP 09 deputy, Miroslav Kalousek. The government is set to discuss the amnesty, which was co-signed by Prime Minister Petr Nečas without consultation with his cabinet, on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the opposition Social Democrats say they hope a vote of no-confidence in the government in connection with the matter can be held on January 17.
Health minister proposes complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants
The minister of health, Leoš Heger, is proposing a complete ban on smoking in the Czech Republic’s pubs and restaurants. A draft law he presented on Tuesday would also require that at least one soft drink be available in pubs that costs less than beer or other alcoholic drinks. At the same time, selling alcohol or cigarettes to under 18s would result in a CZK 1 million fine, while providing them to those under 15 would garner a fine of CZK 2 million. If the legislation is approved, it will come into force in 2014.
Czech three-party coalition to continue in present formation
The three-party Czech government is set to continue in its present formation, after the smallest grouping in the coalition, LIDEM, decided not to quit. LIDEM had “called on” the party's ministers to exit the cabinet, after leader Karolina Peake was in December sacked as minister of defence after a mere eight days in the post. However, on Tuesday evening the party decided to drop a resolution to that effect. LIDEM split from Public Affairs, after that party left the government in the wake of a number of scandals involving its ministers.
Press: Constitutional Court to throw out all parts of Okamura complaint
The Czech Constitutional Court has decided to reject all parts of a complaint filed by Senator Tomio Okamura, who was excluded from imminent presidential elections, Právo reported on Tuesday, quoting a court source. On Friday the court rejected Mr. Okamura’s demand that the election, which gets underway this coming Friday, be postponed. He was barred from taking part after the Interior Ministry found shortcomings in the required 50,000 signatures that he had collected. The Constitutional Court will announce its ruling regarding the rest of his complaint on Thursday.
Czech state again supporting renovation of apartment buildings
After a two-year gap, the Czech state is again supporting the renovation of apartment buildings. From January 11, building owners will be able to apply for advantageous loans under the Panel 2013 programme. While under the previous system owners borrowed from banks and the state paid the interest, now the loans are being provided by a state fund. The system is open to the owners of both pre-fabricated and brick apartment buildings.
PPF sells share in owner of Česká pojišťovna in gigantic deal
PPF has sold its share in the company Generali PPF Holding to the Italian insurance giant Generali in a deal reportedly worth EUR 2.7 billion. Generali PPF Holding owns Česká pojišťovna, the leading player on the Czech insurance market. In a statement, PPF’s Petr Kellner – the Czech Republic’s richest man – said the sale was the culmination of 16 years’ work. The Czech media have already been dubbing it the biggest transaction of the year.
Sharp rise seen in number of citizens aged 100 or over
The number of people in the Czech Republic aged 100 or older now stands at 1,103, according to figures just released by the country’s social welfare authority. Some 920 of them are women. The overall numbers of citizens aged 100-plus is growing; last year there were 761, while in 2011 the number stood at 625. Experts predict that figure could grow to as high as 13,000 by the middle of the century.
Tourists apprehend muggers recently released in amnesty
Two tourists who were mugged in Prague succeeded in apprehending their assailants, the city’s police said in a statement on their website on Tuesday. In the early hours of Friday, the visitors, who were from Germany, were enticed into a passage way by three men, who stole around EUR 250 from them and ran away. However, the tourists chased after the men and managed to catch two of them, while the other managed to escape in a taxi. The two apprehended had recently been released from prison under the president’s amnesty; some 86 amnestied prisoners have been charged since their release, 47 with crimes and 39 with misdemeanors.
No last goodbye to Kladno fans for NHL returnee Jágr
The Czech ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr will not be able to appear one more for Kladno before returning to the US following the ending of the NHL lockout. Jágr, who is 40, wanted to turn out on the ice of hometown club one more time, against Litvínov on Tuesday evening, but was told by his NHL club Dallas to return immediately. I have to respect that decision, the forward told iSport.cz. His presence helped turn Kladno into one of the biggest draws in the Czech Extraliga.
We should see some rain and some sunny spells over the coming days. Temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 5 degrees Celsius.