Roughly 850,000 TV viewers over the age of 15 tuned in on Friday to watch President Miloš Zeman’s inaugural speech – 60 percent of viewers in the 11 am time slot, public broadcaster Czech TV reported. The reported figures are preliminary. Mr Zeman’s speech attracted more viewers at home than his predecessor’s a day earlier. Václav Klaus, on Thursday, gave a final speech that was seen by 647,000 viewers. Miloš Zeman is the Czech Republic’s third president but is the first to have been elected directly and not by lawmakers in Parliament.
In related news, 30 MPs on Friday were absent from the inauguration on Friday; 10 senators who declined to attend, responded in advance in writing. The presidential pledge is taken before both houses of Parliament. The largest number of those who were absent were lawmakers from centre-right party TOP 09 (which nominated Karel Schwarzenberg for president in the recent election). Others absent included former Social Democrat David Rath (remanded in custody awaiting trial and former Civic Democrat Roman Pekárek – who began a five-year prison term last month.
The chairman of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetský has suggested that the court should have taken into count broader factors regarding a recent senatorial complaint. A group of senators had sought the annulment of part of the controversial New Year’s amnesty but the motion was rejected on Tuesday. Eight out of 12 judges currently in the Constitutional Court were against; four – including Rychetský – had a differing view. According to Judge Rychetský, the amnesty should have been examined in connection with international agreements that bind the Czech Republic to prosecute crimes and limit the legalisation of criminal profits. Former president Václav Klaus’ New Year’s amnesty saw more than 6,000 prisoners released; the controversial article 2 of the amnesty halted – or threatens to halt – a number of major cases of suspected corruption and fraud.
Petr Hájek, former vice chancellor to the president, will launch a new internet journal with the slogan of “counterrevolutionary magazine” linked to Parlamentnílisty.cz, the news site reports. Mr Hájek served at Prague Castle under former president Václav Klaus. Hájek, a controversial figure at Prague Castle for years, called the late Václav Havel a “servant of Satan” in a book published last year and in the past questioned, conspiracy-style, the truth of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting they could have been orchestrated by the US secret service.
The long-running Febiofest film festival has changed owners, the news website idnes reports. According to the site, founder Fero Fenič sold the ownership rights to the Prague International Film Festival for the sum of 25 million crowns, to be paid over five years. Mr Fenič is to stay on as the festival’s president. The company behind the Prague International Film Festival was founded last year by Mr Fenič along with partners and financial investors. Kamil Spáčil, the former head of Barrandov TV, will be the festival’s new director. Febiofest was founded back in 1993; in 2011 it generated profits of 1.1 million crowns, a year after suffering losses of 4.5 million, idnes writes.
Part of a motorcycle production plant in Týnec nad Sázavou was damaged by a fire that broke out on Friday evening. According to reports, a warehouse as well as a building condemned to be demolished were damaged. Damage at the Jawa factory has been estimated at around 600,000 crowns. Fire fighters have suggested that the fire was set intentionally.
Miloš Zeman has been sworn in as Czech president in a ceremony at the
Vladislav Hall at Prague Castle. Mr. Zeman is the first directly-elected
head of state in the history of the Czech Republic. After his swearing-in
at a joint session of both chambers of Parliament, the new president
inspected a military parade and attended a brief service in honour of St.
Wenceslas, before having lunch with senior state officials. He was forced
to sign the oath a second time, after the first copy was found to contain
Mr. Zeman, who is 68, has been one of the dominant figures in Czech politics since the fall of Communism. After turning the Social Democrats into a major party in the 1990s, he served as prime minister between 1998 and 2002.
In his inauguration speech, Miloš Zeman repeated a previously expressed intention to represent the “lower 10 million”, meaning all but the country’s elite. Mr. Zeman said his office would serve as a neutral space for dialogue between the parties in parliament, but also other significant organisations, adding that he wished to serve as a mediator, not a judge. He also pledged to fight the mafia, neo-Nazis and sections of the media, which he accused of brain-washing the public.
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