The Czech Republic's newly-elected MPs have held their first meeting in
the Chamber of Deputies. Tuesday afternoon's program for the new MPs
consisted mainly of nominating candidates for senior posts in the lower
house. MPs also decided that Civic Democrat, Petr Tluchor, will head the
Chamber of Deputies' election committee, which consists of 12 members and
must be formed before Thursday's key vote on the chair and deputy chairs
of the lower house.
Tuesday's meeting in the lower house was also important as the new MPs were handed confirmation of their electoral mandates. Most MPs arrived to pick-up their documents, though some were missing—among them Jiri Paroubek, David Rath, and Zdenek Skromach, all senior members of the Social Democratic Party.
Prague's High Court upheld the life sentence of murderer Viktor Kalivoda on Tuesday. The man better known as "the killer in the woods" was sentenced to life behind bars in March, but appealed the original verdict. Mr. Kalivoda killed three people in mid-October 2005, and police arrested him shortly thereafter. The victims were picked randomly and the shooter confessed to his crimes during the first trial. During Tuesday's court proceedings, Mr. Kalivoda said that he had also planned to conduct a shooting spree in Prague's subway system.
The Rolling Stones will not appear in the Czech Republic this summer, after plans to reschedule a date in Brno were abandoned. The British rock band had been due to play in the Moravian capital in mid-June, but pulled out when guitarist Keith Richards underwent an operation. The Rolling Stones have appeared in Prague four times in the past decade and a half.
Despite earlier assertions by the Social Democrats which claimed they would re-nominate Lubomir Zaoralek for chairman of the lower house, they failed to do so in Tuesday's sitting. Reports say this decision came after the Social Democrats failed to secure behind-the-scenes majority support for Mr. Zaoralek's nomination. The deputy chairwoman of the Civic Democratic Party, Miroslava Nemcova, is thus the only nominee for the lead post in the lower house. Her election to the post will depend on the vote of at least one Social Democratic or Communist MP. MPs are scheduled to cast their secret ballots on Thursday morning.
As Czech meteorologists warned, powerful summer storms hit some parts
of the Czech Republic on Tuesday. Strong winds have caused serious
damage in the south Moravian region surrounding Zlin. Firefighters are
dealing with uprooted trees and downed electrical lines. Trees have
blocked roads and damaged parked vehicles. Heavy rain in the region has
also flooded many cellars, said a spokesman from the local fire
department. Storms are expected to strike again in several Moravian
regions, bringing heavy rains, winds, and hail.
Subject to similar drastic weather conditions, the chateau of Pohanska near Breclav, has been damaged by a hailstorm. The daily Pravo writes that the chateau looks as though it was the victim of a military firing squad. There is extensive damage to chateau Pohanska's façade, and eight windows were broken as a result of the storm.
An anonymous bomb threat called in on Tuesday afternoon stopped train travel on one of the Czech Republic's busiest rail routes. Trains traveling between the Moravian capital of Brno and the city of Breclav were stopped and bomb experts called to the scene. The train route in question is the main throughway from the Czech Republic to neighboring Slovakia and Austria. Buses have temporarily replaced the regular railway connections.
On Monday Senator Martin Mejstrik, one of the initiators of a proposed law that aspires to ban symbols of communism, presented journalists with proof that the chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, Vojtech Filip, knowingly collaborated with the former communist-era secret police, the StB. The newly-uncovered documents include the protocol that Mr. Filip signed, pledging cooperation with the StB and fulfillment of tasks entrusted to him by the secret police organization. The Ministry of the Interior has just released the key document which proves that Mr. Filip knowingly collaborated with the communist secret police. In the early 1990s Mr. Filip faced similar charges which he denied; a 1993 court ruling concluded that he had not collaborated knowingly. Mr. Filip is currently in the running to become one of the next deputy chairmen of the lower house, a post he also held during the last government's term.
Reacting to the newly-signed coalition agreement, the leader of the
Social Democratic Party, Jiri Paroubek, says that the proposed
centre-right government will be impossible to tolerate. Mr. Paroubek
told reporters that the coalition agreement is a document structured
along the lines of "poor journalism," and on the other hand contains
details that would dramatically affect the lives of Czechs. According
to Mr. Paroubek, the coalition agreement was made without regard for
the concerns of the Social Democratic Party, which won the second
largest share of votes in the recent elections. The Social Democratic
leader is displeased with the chapter on healthcare, as well as what he
sees as the coalition's unclear position on the adoption of the Euro.
Meanwhile, deputy Social Democratic leader Bohuslav Sobotka says that
his party can not sign a "blank cheque" for the proposed coalition.
In recent days the Civic Democratic and Social Democratic leaders met several times to try and find common ground for support of the new government. Their efforts have been unsuccessful, but Green Party leader Martin Bursik says that Monday's coalition agreement should be a new starting point for dialogue with the Social Democrats.
The Prague Zoo's program of reintroducing endangered animals back into the wild is proving successful, but it needs more money. The director of the Prague Zoo, Petr Fejk, says that at the beginning of the 21st century zoos have many functions, among the most important of which is protecting endangered species, and whenever possible, helping them to return to life in their natural habitats. But the animal reintegration programs are expensive, and the efforts of Prague Zoo are dependent on financial support, a portion of which comes from the international organization of zoological gardens. During the summer months, fundraising in the Czech Republic will be coordinated by a project called 'Help Us Back into the Wild', which will be run in cooperation with zoos in Brno, Ostrava, Liberec, and Usti nad Labem.
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