Vojtěch Filip was reelected Communist Party leader at the party’s conference in Prague on Saturday. Filip received 203 votes out of 353. His rival Josef Skála received 150 votes. Skála, a former deputy chair, represents a fraction of the party which has been calling for a more left-leaning policy line. In the 2013 parliamentary elections the party took 33 seats in the lower house. Filip has been at the helm for the last 11 years and has now received a mandate for another four.
Two of the three police officers detained by the police’s organized crime squad on Wednesday have been remanded in custody on the grounds that they could try to influence witnesses or cover their tracks. The three are accused of abuse of office, taking and soliciting bribes and leaking information relating to ongoing investigations. According to unconfirmed sources one of the three persons charged is a detective from the police’s anti-corruption unit.
Twenty-two year old pop-rock singer Gabriela Gunčíková will represent the Czech Republic at the final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night. This is the first time ever that the Czech Republic has made it to a Eurovision final. Gunčíková will perform the song I Stand, with music by Christian Schneider and Sara Biglert and lyrics by Biglert and Aidan O'Connor. The singer first got noticed in 2011 as runner-up in the Czecho-Slovak Superstar contest. She later studied with American vocal coach Ken Tamplin and joined the American progressive rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra as a touring vocalist. She has released two albums.
Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman is to address a weekend gathering of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft on Sunday. This is the first time that the Czech government has sent an official representative to a meeting of the Landsmannschaft association. Relations between the Czech government and the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft improved after the association confirmed that it would no longer strive for financial compensation or the return of property confiscated from the 2.5 million Sudeten Germans driven from post-war Czechoslovakia under the Beneš decrees. On Saturday the association awarded Hans-Adam II, the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, the Charles IV Prize for fostering understanding among European nations.
The Czech Republic is celebrating the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, whom Czechs perceive as the “father of the Czech nation” and the greatest Czech that ever lived. President Milos Zeman, government officials and representatives of European royal houses attended a celebratory mass at St. Vitus Cathedral at midday on Saturday. The royal guests attending the celebrations are the Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henry I, Monaco’s crown prince Albert II and Alois, Hereditary prince of Liechtenstein. The royal crown of Bohemia which Charles IV had made was exhibited during the mass.
Visiting Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer who is in Prague for bilateral talks will also take part in the Charles IV celebrations. He and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will visit Karlstejn Castle, which Charles IV built to house the royal treasure and later open the Charles IV exhibition at the Wallenstein Riding School which was organized in close cooperation with Bavaria. The Czech and Bavarian prime ministers have established close cooperation. They last met in March of this year in Munich.
The 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV is being marked by a wide range of events including exhibitions, conferences, lectures and gatherings. Prague Castle alone has organized seven exhibitions to mark the occasion. The National Gallery has organized an exhibition on Charles IV at the Wallenstein Riding School which presents over 200 artefacts documenting Charles IV’s legacy in a European context, including the crown that Charles IV had made for his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor. As of Sunday May 15th the public will also have the chance to admire the crown jewels which are only shown on special occasions. Czech Radio is throwing a birthday party for Charles IV at Letna, from 4pm till midnight on Saturday.
Czech billionaire businessman Pavel Tykač has been cleared to take control over the coal-mining company Severní energetická, through his Luxembourg company Haltixar. The Czech Office of the Protection of Competition approved the fusion of the companies. Mr Tykač wants to merge Severní energetická, which operates the ČSA open-cast mine and the Chvaletice power plant with his Czech Coal Group. He says it will be easier to face the unfavourable situation then on the Czech energy market.
Minister for human rights and equal opportunities, Jiří Dienstbier, and Justice Minister Robert Pelikán on Friday attended a commemorative ceremony for the victims of the Romany Holocaust at the site of a former concentration camp in Lety in South Bohemia. More than 1,300 Romanies were held prisoners in the camp between 1942 and 1943. Over 300 of them died there while others were transported to Nazi extermination camps. Mr Dientsbier said that plans for relocating a large pig farm established on the site of the camp in the 1970s seemed unlikely to be carried out, since the government has failed to reach agreement with the farm’s owners.
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