- The cabinet is preparing to replace Education Minister Josef Dobeš, several Czech media outlets report.
- Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg says he supports a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, but does not believe it will change developments in the country.
- Police have moved to prosecute forty people for tax evasion amounting to some 800 million crowns.
- Some 500 people assembled in central Brno on Saturday to protest Czech participation in ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
- Members of the scientific community have called upon the prime minister to join the EU budget pact.
Media: Cabinet preparing to oust Dobeš
The cabinet is preparing to replace Education Minister Josef Dobeš, several Czech media outlets report. According to the daily Právo, a threat by the European Commission to halt the payment of 53 billion crowns from the Education for Competitiveness Operational Programme due to a lack of transparency in the ministry was the last straw for Mr Dobeš, who has been dogged by high profile scandals since taking office. Meanwhile the education minister is also under fire for hiring a member of the Czech Radio Council to his press department in contravention of the law. Právo cites anonymous information that deputy Public Affairs chairwoman Dagmar Navratilová is being considered for the position.
Schwarzenberg supports Security Council resolution on Syria, but does not expect change
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg says he supports a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, but does not believe it will change developments in the country. Speaking from Munich where he is attending an international security conference, Mr Schwarzenberg told the Czech Press Agency that it is necessary to send a signal to Syrian President Bashar Asad that the West is not indifferent to the violent suppression of anti-government protests in Syria. The Security Council is to vote on the resolution on Saturday, but Russia has warned that it will block its passage. The Czech Republic is not currently represented on the council.
Police prosecuting forty people for tax evasion
Police have moved to prosecute forty people for tax evasion amounting to some 800 million crowns. According to the website of the anti-corruption department, the charges are the result of several years of investigation of people who had offered companies decreased tax liabilities and the directors of the companies who had accepted the offers, or reported the export of non-existent goods abroad. If found guilty they face between five and ten years imprisonment.
Demonstrators protest Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
Some 500 people assembled in central Brno on Saturday to protest Czech participation in ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Speakers addressed the importance of online liberty and some criticised the government for approving the agreement without public discussion. A performance showed how the agreement could lead to users of pirated material being checked for proof of purchase. Protesters also gathered in Ostrava and Plzeň. An earlier demonstration was held in Prague on Thursday.
Scientists demand Czech accession to EU budget pact
Members of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Petr Nečas demanding that the country join the EU budget pact. The scientists write that it is time that the Czech Republic stop behaving like an erratic troublemaker and join the countries that are trying to effectively solve problems. Moreover, they criticise the PM for saying that the budget pact “does not bring us anything advantageous" while at the same time preaching budgetary discipline. The idea that the national interests of the Czech Republic are markedly different than those of other EU countries is unfathomable, the scientists write.
Police barring increasing numbers of people from households due to domestic violence
Police are barring increasing numbers of people from their households due to domestic violence. According to a report from the support group Bílého kruhu bezpečí, police confiscated keys in 1430 cases in 2011, about a third more than in the previous year. That number has risen steadily since 2008, when 679 people were barred from their homes. Experts for the group say the trend is due not to rising aggressiveness but to the fact that the Czech police are much more experienced in utilising this option today. Domestic violence has only been a criminal act in the Czech Republic since 2004 and police have been able to bar people from their households since 2007.
Woman captured on camera calling in bomb threats
Police are seeking a woman they believe was responsible for two bomb threats called in over the previous two days. Metro service was limited for an hour on Thursday after a woman called in a 30-minute warning. The bus and metro stations at Smíchov were then evacuated after another threat was made some 24 hours later. Security cameras caught a woman wearing the same clothing at both locations where the calls were made.
Conditions over the weekend are expected to be clear and sunny with daytime highs dropping to -12° Celsius and night-time lows to around -20°. Temperatures in higher altitudes could drop to -40°.