President Zeman also told Haló Noviny that he did not rule out future involvement of the Communist Party in government. The president said that in his view the Communist Party could first support a minority Social Democrat cabinet in office as a “transitional phase” to direct participation in government. On the grounds of a resolution passed in 1995, the Social Democrats have consistently rejected cooperation with the Communist Party on a national level but the Zeman faction in the Social Democrats, which has been gaining strength, could move to scrap the ban.
The Czech Foreign Ministry on Friday issued a warning against all travel to Egypt. The ministry warned that due to unpredictable development in the country, Czech citizens should avoid any trips to Egypt including its popular Red Sea resorts Sharm el-Sheikh. Hurgada, Marsa Alam, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba. Czech tourists in these resorts should not leave hotel premises until departing from the country, the ministry said.
The majority of actors in Prague’s National Theatre who resigned in protest against the dismissal of the theatre’s director have withdrawn their resignations, the head of the theatre’s drama department said on Friday. Nearly half of the ensemble resigned after Culture Minister Jiri Balvin dismissed the National Theatre’s director, Jan Burian, earlier this month. But the decision caused outrage among the arts community and politicians, and the prime minister ordered Mr Balvín to reinstate the theatre’s director. Two of best known actors in the National Theatre, Miroslav Donutil and Richard Krajčo, have not withdrawn their resignations and will cooperate with the theatre as freelancers.
Anti-Romany rallies are to be held in five Czech regions on August 24, a police spokeswoman said. Far-right extremists said they wanted to protest against alleged high crime levels among the Romany community, and against police brutality. The police have not disclosed the exact locations but rallies are expected in České Budějovice, Jičín, Plzeň, and other cities. In Ostrava, local authorities have banned an anti-Romany rally; they said several Romany groups had already booked public space for the same time. A series of rallies targeting the Romany community has been held in places across the Czech Republic in recent months, prompting international criticism. Several organizations have asked the Czech authorities to protect the Romany community against violence and intimidation.
In related news, MPs on Friday rejected a proposal by the Civic Democrats to postpone the vote on dissolving the lower house. The former coalition Civic Democrats argued MPs should wait until several bills are approved or turned down by the Senate. The Social Democrat and TOP 09 parties, meanwhile, have welcomed the president’s announcement of the likely election dates, as they believe the election should take place as soon as possible.
The police have charged a 22-year-old man over the deaths of four girls who died in an accident during last November’s rally race in Lopeník, in the east of the country. The girls were killed by a car which swerved off the track; the police said the man, in his capacity as a track marshal, had failed to order them out of the restricted zone. If convicted, the man faces up to six years in prison.
A court in Ostrava on Friday sentenced two men to eight years in prison for selling bootleg methanol laced liquor. The court said the men sold 80 litres of alcohol containing 50 percent of methanol on the black market; one person died and four others suffered serious injuries as a result. Another 32 people face trial for producing and selling methanol-laced alcohol; the trial with the heads of the bootlegging network should start in the coming months. More than 40 people have died of methanol poisoning in the Czech Republic since last September when the crisis started.
The lower house of Parliament on Friday approved government legislation that would cut subsidies for renewable sources of energy. The bill ends all subsidies for solar plants put into operation after January 1, 2014, and also caps subsidies paid by electricity consumers for existing solar, hydro and biogas plants. The difference will be covered by the state budget. MPs on Friday included a provision in the bill that will require all recipients of subsidies to disclose their ownership. The bill, which has come under criticism by environmentalists, will now be discussed in the Senate.
The former first lady Livia Klausová is to be named ambassador to Slovakia, and former astronaut, Communist party MEP Vladimir Remek will become the country’s ambassador to Russia, President Zeman’s Chancellor Vratislav Mynar told Czech Television on Thursday. Confirmation from Prague Castle means that both nominees have been approved by the host countries. The appointments of these two particular candidates were at the centre of a long-running dispute between the president and then-foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, blocking several other problem-free nominations for weeks. Mr. Schwarzenberg has accused the president of using the Rusnok government to get his own way in the matter. It is not yet clear when the appointments will be made.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a warning to Czech tourists in Egypt advising them not to stray from their beach resorts, which are still deemed relatively safe and not to undertake solo trips around the country. The ministry warns against trips to Cairo and other big cities where there is a danger of more street violence.
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