Ivan Dejmal, former Czech environment minister and deputy head of the newly-established Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, died late on Wednesday, at the age of 61. Dejmal was environment minister from 1991-1992 pushing through a crucial law on nature and landscape protection. In the 1970s Dejmal was persecuted by the communist secret police. He was twice imprisoned for allegedly “undermining the Czechoslovak communist state” and for his frequent contacts with the dissident community. He spent four years in prison.
The Czech – US treaty on the siting of a radar base, part of the American anti-missile shield, in the Czech Republic, will provide for the system’s cooperation with NATO, Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Tomáš Pojar said on Thursday, after talks with US officials in Prague. The Czech Republic has been negotiating with the United States on the positioning of the radar station on Czech territory for more than a year; Mr Pojar said he expected the talks to conclude ‘within weeks, rather than months’.
A World Cup event in cross country skiing that is to be held in Liberec, North Bohemia, over next weekend, will take place despite a lack of snow. The event’s organizing committee decided on Thursday that at least some of the planned races will take place; the organizers will announce on Monday which disciplines will be held and which will be cancelled.
A monument to the US President Woodrow Wilson will be re-erected in Prague, a City Hall official said on Thursday after a meeting with a representative of the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. Five sites have been chosen where the memorial might be positioned. The original monument was built in 1928 in front of Prague’s main train station which also bore Mr Wilson’s name, but was destroyed by the Nazis after the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Woodrow Wilson, who was the US president during the First World War, defended Central European nations’ right to self-determination which was instrumental in the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
Police in South Bohemia are investigating a case of alleged attempted fraud amounting to USD 3.5 billion. A married couple from Písek allegedly sought a guarantee from a Swiss bank on the basis of a certificate “issued” by a non-existent financial institute in the US. However, the bank suspected the documents were fake and halted the whole process before any contract was signed. The couple, who have not been remanded in custody, said they needed the loan to finance the establishment of an airline.
A presidential election planned for this Friday could be postponed due to
a dispute over how the bicameral vote should be held. A decision by the
Chamber of Deputies procedural committee on Wednesday to back a public
brings the lower house into conflict with the Senate, where the majority
in favour of a secret vote. Senate chairman Přemysl Sobotka said if
agreement is not reached during talks between representatives of both
houses on Thursday then Friday’s joint session of Parliament could be
suspended while a solution to the stalemate is sought. Mr Sobotka said he
would not describe the situation as a constitutional crisis, but
instability which required political negotiation.
A hastily arranged meeting of the governing coalition failed to make any headway over the issue on Wednesday. The coalition’s biggest party the Civic Democrats – who control the Senate – are in favour of a secret vote. But their partners the Greens and the Christian Democrats, along with the opposition Social Democrats and at least some Communist legislators, back a public vote.
The incumbent Václav Klaus is set to face Jan Švejnar in Friday’s vote, with Mr Klaus regarded by many pundits as the favourite. An opinion poll by the CVVM agency released on Wednesday suggests that both presidential candidates have equal public support of 42 percent. However, Mr Klaus may have more opponents than Mr Švejnar: 22 percent of respondents said they were decidedly against the incumbent, compared to 16 percent strongly opposed to the challenger.
Contrary to previous reports, some stands selling sausages and other food are to remain on Prague’s Wenceslas Square, a representative of the Prague 1 authority said on Wednesday. However, there will be a reduction in the number of fast food stands on the square and the selling of alcohol will be banned. It is not necessary to have two fernets and three vodkas with your klobasa, councillor Rudolf Blažek told reporters. Suggestions last year that all the food stands on Wenceslas Square would be removed met with a negative reaction.
Czech police last year unlawfully took DNA samples from both persons remanded in custody and others who had been sentenced, the ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, said on Wednesday. Mr Motejl said the database into which the DNA samples were entered was itself not legally based. He said the police should destroy all DNA samples if asked to do so by prisoners who had been tested without their prior agreement. Mr Motejl said the database should be defined by law, not based on an internal police order as it is now. Police took 17,000 DNA samples in 2007.
Barbora Tachecí has been fired as the director of Czech Radio’s biggest station, Radiožurnál. Ms Tachecí had come in for some criticism for changes introduced to the station at the beginning of this year; hundreds of listeners sent complaints to both Czech Radio and the council which oversees it. No figures are currently available regarding the number of listeners in the period since Ms Tachecí’s changes were implemented.
Civic Democrat deputy Eva Dundáčková says the couples who take part in a TV wife-swap programme have come close to committing the crime of abandoning their children. The MP, a member of the Chamber of Deputies family committee, made the comment in a Czech Radio interview. Last week the committee wrote to TV Nova asking the station to drop the show “Výměna manželek”. However, the programme’s director said the children involved had given their consent, adding that it was filmed under the supervision of psychologists.
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