The Czech political world continues to be in a state of shock after the resignation of Jan Morava following allegations that the Civic Democrat MP collected compromising materials on fellow politicians with a view to blackmailing them. Two “rebel” Civic Democrat MPs Jan Schwippel and Juraj Raninec have stated that they hope that the shockwaves from the scandal do not stop at the resignation of Mr Morava. Evidence has suggested that these two allies of chief rebel MP Vlastimil Tlustý were also at the centre of attempts by Morava to obtain compromising materials on colleagues opposed to Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek’s reforms in areas such as healthcare and the economy on the grounds that that the reforms are too weak. The two MPs Jan Schwippel and Juraj Raninec have now threatened to leave the party unless fellow Civic Democrat Petr Tluchoř, whom they accuse of knowing about the conspiracy, is not stripped of his post as the head of the party’s group of deputies.
The former Czech president Václav Havel has labeled Russia and Belarus as newer and more sophisticated authoritarian regimes. The comments came during a security conference the former president was attending, which was held in Prague. In references to the current conflict in Georgia, he also added that the West should not hold back in letting such regimes know what they think of such perceived wrongdoings, while also cautioning that oil should not be allowed to trump human rights.
The share of Czech students graduating from university has grown slightly according to a report by the OECD. However, the country still falls far beneath the OECD average. According to the organisation’s figures, the OECD average for higher education within the population is 27% - the Czech figure is 14%. The Czech figures have been rising slowly for the past number of years, but analysts argue that much more needs to be done. OECD figures also suggest that the Czech Republic lags in the amount of spending per pupil – the average is 6.4% of GDP spent on education, while in the Czech Republic, the figure is 4.6%. University spending per student is also below the average of 16000 USD per student, with the Czech Republic only spending 6000 USD per student.
Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, an eighty-seven year-old woman from Plzeň has been sentenced to six years in prison for her involvement in the capital murder of post-War dissident Milada Horáková. Ms Horáková was an anti-Nazi resistance fighter, parliamentarian and also an anti-communist in the post war period of Czechoslovakia. She was arrested on trumped up charges by the communist authorities in 1949 and executed less than a year later. Ms Brožová-Polednová acted as prosecutor in that trial and was sentenced in 2007 to eight years imprisonment – although this was subsequently overturned on appeal. Now, in what is likely to be the final chapter in this saga, following a ruling that Ms Brožová-Polednová’s alleged crime has not in fact exceeded the statute of limitations, she faced a fresh trial and appeared in court today for the first time ever. Ms Brožová-Polednová has not denied the charges, but denies direct culpability, although she has stated that she is prepared to go to jail if convicted.
The Czech national football team is preparing for its opening World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland, which will take place on Wednesday in Belfast. The match will be the first competitive game under the team’s new manager Petr Rada, who succeeded Karel Brückner after the Euro 2008 tournament concluded this summer. Mr Brückner, meanwhile has taken over as manager of the Austrian team, winning accolades for a surprise 3:1 victory over France in qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa.
The Christian Democrats have distanced themselves from an official government promotion campaign designed to raise awareness about its impending presidency of the EU. The comments came following a meeting of the party faithful on the subject held on Tuesday. They have now asked their coalition partners to come up with a better idea than the current “We will sweeten Europe” campaign, which features a sugar cube falling into a cup of coffee. The Christian Democrats have also stated that they were not consulted about the campaign. The campaign caused controversy after it was realised that it also had an anti-European connotation because the Czech president Václav Klaus, a prominent Euro-skeptic, had once stated that the country will dissolve like a sugar cube within the EU. The Czech Republic is set to assume the EU presidency in January 2009.
The head of the Green Party, Martin Bursík, has dismissed one-third of
the party’s national council, which consisted mainly of his opponents.
Twenty members of the national council were dismissed during the last day
of the party’s national congress on Sunday, including Mr Bursík’s
critics Dana Kuchtová and Matěj Stropnický. Mr Bursík originally
to change the party rules, which would make the national council
subordinate to the party leadership, but his proposal was not debated at
all, as the meeting was running behind the schedule.
Mr Bursík, who is environment minister and deputy prime minister, was re-elected the party’s leader on Saturday, defeating the former education minister Dana Kuchtová. Education Minister Ondřej Liška and MP Kateřina Jacques became the first and the second deputies.
The Civic Democrat MP at the centre of a murky blackmail affair has resigned. Jan Morava, who is 29, announced his resignation on Monday, a day after a report on TV Nova showed that he had been collecting compromising material on fellow MPs in order to blackmail them. His meetings with Nova journalists, who were disguised as private detectives, were recorded by hidden camera. The report also confirmed that Vlastimil Tlustý, a Civic Democrat MP at odds with the party leadership, co-operated with reporters in their investigation. Mr Tlustý posed in compromising photos with a young woman as a trap to see which fellow party members would buy the photos.
The Czech team has taken two gold medals at the Paralympics in Beijing. On Sunday, Eva Kacanu came first in the F54-56 Classification women’s shot, with a record-breaking throw of 6.73 m. Cyclist Jiří Ježek on Monday secured second gold medal for the Czech Republic, when he won the men’s individual pursuit, LC 2. Another gold medal went on Monday to swimmer Běla Hlaváčová in women’s 50m backstroke.
Young Czech communists have gathered over 180,000 signatures on a petition against the planned construction of a US radar base on Czech soil. The organisers will hand the sheets with signatures to the petition committee of the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday. The Communist Youth Association, which was banned by court two years ago, will continue organising anti-radar petitions and meetings.
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Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events