The ombudsman Otakar Motejl has said overcrowding in Czech prisons could lead to an increase in tension and violence. In a report posted on his official website, he warned against a reduction in the number of employees in the Czech prison services. Mr Motejl said overcrowding could threaten the rehabilitation aspect of incarceration. The ombudsman’s office monitored the situation in Czech prisons at the request of the head of the country’s prison services.
The head of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, has reacted angrily to criticism he has faced over a trip he made to Moscow last month. He was reported to have held talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin without informing Czech diplomats in Moscow or the foreign ministry in Prague. In a statement, however, Mr Paroubek said that the Czech embassy in the Russian capital had not offered him any help. He said that they could at least have seen Mr Putin at close quarters, which the Czech ambassador Miroslav Kostelka had not often done during three years in Moscow.
Czech MEP Edvard Kožušník arrived in Strasbourg on Tuesday for a plenary session of the new European Parliament on a bicycle, before entering the chamber in cycling gear. It had taken the Civic Democrat politician 13 days to make the 850 km-plus journey. Mr Kožušník said he had undertaken the long ride to raise interest in the new anti-federalist group in the European Parliament that the Civic Democrats helped found with the British Conservatives and Poland’s Law and Justice.
The Christian Democrats have signed a pre-election pact with the European Democrats under which the two parties will contest early elections in October together, their leaders Cyril Svoboda and Jana Hybášková said in Prague on Tuesday. Candidates from the relatively small European Democrats are set to appear on the lists of the Christian Democrats, who are currently the fourth biggest party in the lower house. Some senior figures from the Christian Democrats recently left to form a new party, TOP 09.
Ottawa has introduced a visa requirement for Czech visitors, in response
to a rise in the number of Czech Romanies applying for asylum in Canada.
The Canadian immigration ministry informed Prague of the move on Monday
night. The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, called Canada’s step
unilateral and unfriendly, while his government reacted quickly, recalling
the Czech ambassador to Canada for consultations and announcing plans to
impose visa requirements on Canadian diplomats and civil servants.
The European Commission said it would not heed a Czech call for all EU states to impose a visa restriction on Canadians in solidarity with the Czech Republic. A spokesperson said the Commission regretted Canada’s decision and hoped it would be a temporary measure.
In the first half of this year Czech Romanies filed 1,720 asylum applications in Canada, twice as many as for the whole of 2008. They say they suffer discrimination in their home country, a claim backed by human rights groups.
Canada introduced a visa requirement for Czechs in 1997 following an influx of asylum seekers, before dropping the measure a decade later.
Police have filed charges against a man who let off a hand grenade in a restaurant in Prague last week. The man could face up to eight years in jail after deliberately pulling the pin out of a grenade in the pub U Českého lva on Thursday. Four people were injured in the blast, while the accused sustained a serious injury to his left leg. No motive has yet been established, police said.
One of the most successful figures in the history of Czech show business Karel Gott is celebrating his 70th birthday. The singer, who is also popular in such states as Germany and Russia, is reported to have sold over 30 million albums in a career spanning five decades. On Monday night the man dubbed the golden voice of Prague held a birthday party at a hotel on Wenceslas Square attended by over 1,000 people, including many well known figures from Czech music and society.
A 33-year-old Hradec Králové man was sentenced to 13.5 years Monday for the murder of his girlfriend. Martin Keleman confessed to having stabbed his 23-year-old partner in January of this year after an argument. Keleman faced up to 15 years for the murder, however the court reduced the sentence, taking into consideration his cooperation and regret.
The Czech Republic and the Principality of Liechtenstein have agreed to normalise diplomatic relations for the first time in 17 years. The announcement was made Monday by Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Kohout. Mr Kohout said that the agreement would be accompanied by a memorandum proposing the creation of a commission of historians tasked with reviewing points of contention between the two countries. Until now, Liechtenstein has been the only country in the world not to recognise the Czech Republic, a situation caused by the confiscation of the Liechtenstein family’s numerous possessions in Czechoslovakia following WWII. Much of the dispute has centred on whether the famous noble family was or was not “German”, as per the post-war decrees under which their holdings in the country were seized. According to Prime Minister Fischer, the normalisation of diplomatic relations is not based upon any conditions or property concessions.
A study by the agency truconneXion states that Czech employees spend one-fifth of the average 8.5 working hours on social networks or computer games. According to the study, the most popular application among office workers, used during working hours, is the Facebook social network, on which one million Czechs are reportedly registered. Other applications to which work-time is devoted are online strategy games and communications tools, such as Skype and ICQ. As companies in the Czech Republic aim to reduce costs due to the global economic crisis, several companies in the country have recently fired scores of employees for internet surfing and gaming, such as the vehicle manufacturer Tatra and the Ostrava Municipal Council.
New foreigners’ law to change conditions for non-EU nationals
Czech foreign ministry reports record number of visa applications
Restaurant tells visitors to “clear their plates” or pay a 50 crown fine for wasting food
New index shows locations with best quality of life in Czech Republic
Archaeologists unearth rare Renaissance-Baroque brew house in ‘Czech Paradise’