The minister of culture in the interim Czech government, Jiří Balvín, has dismissed the director of Prague’s National Theatre, Jan Burian, just one day after he took up the post. Mr. Balvín said on Thursday that he had fired Mr. Burian, who was hired by a previous minister, because he had not been appointed following a selection process. Mr. Balvín said using such selection processes was the only way to ensure changes on the political scene did not lead to constant changes in management positions.
There has been a stormy response to the dismissal of Mr. Burian as National Theatre director. The Social Democrats’ Bohuslav Sobotka called for his reinstatement and described Minister Balvín’s move as scandalous and unacceptable. The former coalition government’s choice for prime minister, Miroslava Němcová, said that her party the Civic Democrats would not now hold a scheduled meeting with interim prime minister Jiří Rusnok because of the sacking and other “purges” his front bench had carried out, the news website Lidovky.cz reported. TOP 09 described Mr. Balvín’s action as alarming.
The lower house’s subcommittee for culture is set to discus both the dismissal and suggestions that the minister could remove the heads of other bodies in the arts, such as the National Gallery. Meanwhile, the managements of the National Theatre and the State Opera have resigned en masse in protest at Mr. Balvín’s decision.
The head of President Zeman’s office, Vratislav Mynář, has said that if the government of Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok fails to win backing in the lower house then the president could appoint a new caretaker head of government. Mr. Mynář made the comments in an interview on Thursday for the news site Aktualne.cz. The parties in the last government are pushing to be allowed to form a new cabinet if that of Mr. Rusnok fails. However, under the constitution the president has two chances to appoint a prime minister; if his second nomination for PM is also unsuccessful, the chair of the Chamber of Deputies can make a nomination. However, there is no deadline within which the president has to remove a prime minister who has failed to pass a confidence vote.
The Constitutional Court has struck down part of the Czech Criminal Code allowing the government to set by decree the amount of a drug considered legally acceptable. The court said the criteria regarding what constitutes a crime should ensue directly from the law; otherwise assessing particular cases fell entirely to the judiciary. The judges also threw out government directives establishing what is considered “more than a small amount”, and therefore illegal, in the case of individual narcotic substances. It will now be up to courts to rule on individual cases on the basis of the concrete circumstances and precedent.
Reacting to the court’s decision, the national anti-drug coordinator, Jindřich Vobořil, said on Thursday that the regulation of drugs now had to be addressed all over again. Mr. Vobořil said there was a danger of inconsistent court rulings and of an unnecessary rise in drug convictions and the criminalisation of users. He told reporters he planned to set up a new working group of experts to examine the issue.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has been diagnosed with diabetes, the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. The diagnosis was made by a special team of 19 doctors. Mr. Zeman is known to have a taste for fatty and sweet Czech foods and will need to adjust his diet, along with cutting out alcohol. Health Minister Martin Holcát said that the president had a mild form of the illness and that a million people in the Czech Republic had diabetes.
A full nine years later, Czech athlete Věra Cechlová has received a bronze medal for the discus at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. She was presented with the medal in Prague on Thursday by the chairman of the Czech Olympic Committee, Jiří Kejval. Cechlová was adjudged to have finished third in the event after Iryna Yatchenko of Belarus was retroactively disqualified last year for cheating.
Vladimír Růžička has signed a new three-year contract extension as coach of Slavia Prague ice hockey club, it said in a statement on its website. Růžička, who is 50, has been Slavia’s coach for 13 years, leading them to two Extraliga titles, and also holds the position of sporting manager at the club. As a player he captained the Czech team that took Olympic gold in Nagano in 1998, while he managed the national side to two World Championship titles.
Hot weather is set to return to the Czech Republic in the coming days. Forecasters say that Friday should see temperatures of up to 33 degrees Celsius, while on Saturday thermometers could climb to as high as 35 degrees. That should be followed by a slight easing to around 30 degrees for the first part of next week. Last weekend new temperature records were at weather stations around the country.
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