- Friends of the late former Czech president Václav Havel have founded the US-based Václav Havel Library Foundation.
- Union leaders met in Prague to discuss the details of a nation-wide strike.
- Defense ministers of all Vysegrád 4 countries on Friday signed an agreement over cooperation in their military defense.
- In an interview with CNN, Czech President Václav Klaus said that Euro-zone member states must be allowed to leave the currency.
- The National Heritage Institute has said that a Frantíšek Kupka painting that sold for a record price at auction cannot be taken out of the country.
Václav Havel Library Foundation formed in the United States
Friends of the late former Czech president Václav Havel have founded the Václav Havel Library Foundation in the United States. Its mission is to promote the late leader’s ideas and his work, as well as the organization of events centered around his literary and political heritage. Among its supporters are the former secretary of state Madeleine Albright as well as former US ambassador to the Czech Republic Craig Stapleton. The first event organized by the new foundation is set to take place in New York City’s Lincoln Center on Monday. The US-based foundation is also planning to collaborate with the Prague Václav Havel Library.
Union leaders meet to discuss nation-wide strike
Representatives from the country’s umbrella trade union organization ČMKOS met in Prague on Friday to discuss a nation-wide strike set to take place on May 23rd. Union leaders have said that they may organize an additional union protest event a day prior to the strike. The unions have slammed the government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas for its reform package and far-reaching austerity measures. Last week, union leaders announced that they would no longer be attending tripartite meetings with the current government.
Vysegrád 4 countries sign agreement over military cooperation
The defense ministers of the Vysegrád 4 group’s countries on Friday met in the Czech city of Litoměřice, where they signed an agreement over the cooperation in matters of military defense within the framework of the European Union. The four countries are planning to form a defense unit with some 3000 members by 2016. Under the new cooperation, soldiers from the group’s countries would be training together and the four nations would combine funds to buy military equipment. Czech Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra said that this step was an important signal that Central European nations are capable of addressing military tasks together. The Vysegrád 4 group is an alliance of four Central European states – Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
Czech president: Euro-zone members must be allowed to leave currency
In an interview with the London bureau of the news channel CNN, Czech President Václav Klaus said that Euro-zone member states must be allowed to leave the currency. He compared the current situation in Europe to that of Czechoslovakia in the late 1980s, when the communist regime started collapsing. He added that Europe is at a point where it needs radical change instead of partial reforms. Mr Klaus is a known euro-skeptic. He was in London on Thursday to give a lecture.
Police arrest three suspects in highly publicized murder-for-hire case
Police have arrested three suspects in connection with a highly publicized murder-for-hire case in which the former elite police officer Michal Tofl was shot in Brno in June 2010. If found guilty, the three men could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The policeman became the victim of a drive-by shooting; police have not released details of the motive for the murder. However, the director of the police’s organized crime unit, Robert Šlachta, has said that money may have played a role. Allegedly, after leaving the police force, Mr Tofl and some of his former colleagues had formed a gang that blackmailed entrepreneurs in Southern Moravia. The scandal around the former police officer was the subject of intense media attention last year, when allegations of corruption within the Brno economic crimes unit became public.
Public Affairs calls on MPs who split with the party to resign
The leadership of the former junior coalition partner Public Affairs has called on MPs who have joined the new faction around the party’s former deputy leader, current Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake, to resign. Public Affairs has pointed out that in its ethical codex, under which its MPs got elected to the lower house of Parliament, the party clearly stated that MPs were not allowed to change their affiliation during their time in office. On Thursday, the new faction around Peake announced its name, LIDEM. Its members will begin collecting the signatures necessary to form a party on Monday.
Peake had left Public Affairs in mid-April, stating that she disliked the style in which the former junior coalition partner presented itself. Her split with the party and the subsequent walk-out of some of its other members cast serious doubt over the future of the government coalition; however, it survived a vote of confidence last week.
National Heritage Institute: Frantíšek Kupka’s painting sold for record price at auction cannot leave country
The buyer of Frantíšek Kupka’s painting The Shape of Blue, which in April was sold at auction for a record 55.75 million Czech crowns, may not be able to take the piece out of the country. According to the National Heritage Institute, the painting is part of the national heritage and as such cannot be taken out of the Czech Republic. However, the owner of the gallery where the auction took place says he has a document from the same institution which confirms that the Kupka painting is not actually in the national heritage registry. The buyer of the artwork, which was created in 1013, does not reside in the Czech Republic.
Israeli Prime Minister to visit Czech Republic
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the Czech Republic on an official visit in May. According to a source of the Czech News Agency ČTK, Israel’s leader will be travelling with a delegation of several ministers. He is set to meet with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas as well as other members of the Czech cabinet. In April, on occasion of a previous visit of the Israeli prime minister to the Czech Republic, the two leaders had discussed expanding the cooperation between both countries in the areas of research and development as well as in the military and economic sectors.
Director of European Organization for Nuclear Research on visit in Prague
The director of the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, is in Prague on Friday. He is visiting the Czech Republic on occasion of the 20-year anniversary of the country’s membership in the organization. Mr Heuer will be meeting with ministry officials and holding a scientific lecture in the Karolinum for students and researchers. CERN is the largest laboratory worldwide devoted to elementary particle research. The organization was founded in 1954.
Justice Minister files complaint in favor of man charged with defacing political campaigning posters
A former public transport worker from Olomouc, Roman Smetana, may soon be released from prison, where he is serving a 100-day sentence for the destruction of public property. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil has filed a complaint in the man’s favor and has appealed to the court to cancel its verdict. He said that it is up to the court to decide whether the defacing of political campaign posters, of which Mr Smetana was found guilty, was a criminal offense or merely a misdemeanor. Mr Smetana was charged with defacing public property for adding feelers to politicians’ photographs on campaign posters. After he refused to pay a fine, he was sent to prison.
Poll: Opposition parties would receive majority of lower house mandates
According to a fresh poll by the Factum Invenio agency, the current opposition party, the Social Democrats, would receive some 72 mandates in the lower house if elections were held today. The senior coalition party, the Civic Democrats, would secure some 41 seats; the Communists 42. The Green Party and the Christian Democrats would be able to again gain seats in the lower house if an election took place today. They would receive 7 and 14 seats, respectively. The poll also suggests that over 60 percent of Czechs would cast their ballot, a slightly lower percentage than 2010’s voter turnout.
Defense player Zbyněk Michálek not to join Czech representation at Ice Hockey World Championship
Defense player Zbyněk Michálek will not be joining the Czech team at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship which takes place in Finland and Sweden. Michálek, who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins, has to undergo a hip surgery and therefore cannot support the Czech national representation. Coach Alois Hadamczik told press on Friday that Michálek was very disappointed and hopes to join the national team in the future.
The coming days will bring warm and humid conditions with a chance of rain showers in places, overcast skies and daytime highs of around 21 degrees Celsius.