Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobradek have paid homage on behalf of the government to the victims of Communism. Bělobradek, the leader of the Christian Democrats, laid a wreath at a memorial in Prague 5 district. Monday is the 66th anniversary of the execution of Milada Horáková, the woman member of parliament found guilty in a show trial in 1950 staged by the Communist regime. The death penalty was carried out in spite of last minutes pleas for clemency from the likes of Albert Einstein and the Pope. A series of commemorative events were scheduled in the Czech capital and across the country.
In football, the future of Czech national manager Pavel Vrba is in the balance. The web pages of the football association reported Monday that it has been approached by officials of the Russian club Makhachkala. The club is interested in the possibility of using an escape clause in Vrba’s current contract and has been cleared to start preliminary talks. Vrba’s Czech squad finished early in the Euro 2016 championships with just one point from a draw with Croatia in the group stage. Makhachkala was 12th in the Russia league last season.
The guerrilla arts group Ztohoven has said it has cut up a presidential standard into 1152 pieces that will be sent ad hoc to people across the Czech Republic. The group took down the presidential banner and replaced it with a giant pair of red underpants in a stunt in September last year. The group had gained access to Prague castle after dressing up as chimney sweeps. The court trial of the three, who could face prison terms of up to three years, starts on Wednesday. The fate of the presidential standard was for many months the subject of mystery to the outside world.
The Czech state’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, has concluded in a report that awareness among most Czechs of how EU funds were spent and the existence of various operational programmes has not increased in spite of the hundreds of millions of crowns spent by ministries to publicize them. The office said around 250 million crowns was spent between 2008 and 2015. Around half that total was spent on a series of tv spots which the office said offered hardly any basic information. The ministries of labour and social affairs, regional development, and education were the biggest spenders on publicity material.
The Czech Ministry of Finance has cut the estimated cash set aside this year for servicing the state debt. The total has been reduced to 337.4 billion crowns from 342 billion crowns. Last year the total was 311.2 billion crowns. The cut is the result of the latest mid-term economic outlook and April’s macro-economic estimate. The expected public deficit for this year has been set at 70 billion crowns.
The government has moved to relax the rules for nursing sisters to qualify in the future in a move that is being described as a step towards the stabilisation of the health sector. In what has been described as the four plus one formula, sisters will in future have to undergo one year of special training after four years of high school. In the past they were expected to undergo the equivalent of three years of bachelor studies.
The Czech prime minister said that he fears that there will be a new wave of separatism following the British Brexit vote. Speaking in an interview with Austrian paper, Der Standard, Bohuslav Sobotka said the British vote would probably encourage nationalism and separatism. He maintained that the European project is still the best guarantee that the horrors of the 20th century are not repeated. The Czech prime minister warned thought that the EU should reform itself so that it can be more effective, more flexible, and less bureaucratic. Foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said after a meeting of foreign ministers from the Visegrad Four as well as France and Germany that Britain’s exist should not stop the EU’s evolution. He said new relations with Britain should be on friendly terms. Zaorálek added that rapid further EU steps towards integration would be the wrong response to the British referendum result.
The Czech government has decided to create a special working group to deal with the possible implications of ‘Brexit,’ the result of last week’s British referendum decision to leave the EU. The group will be headed by the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Tomáš Prouza. It will mainly focus on determining the Czech priorities in the upcoming negotiations with Britain. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced the step on his Twitter account.
The foreign ministers of the Visegrad Four, Germany and France are to meet in Prague on Monday, a day before a summit in Brussels focused on the United Kingdom’s plan to exit the European Union. The ministers are expected to discuss responsibility for the outcome of the Brexit vote, EU reform and possible personnel changes at the head of the bloc, the Czech News Agency reported. On Sunday the Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, bore responsibility for the outcome of the UK vote and should step down.
An event commemorating Milada Horáková and other victims of the Communist regime is being held in Prague on Monday, which is the anniversary of her execution following a show trial in 1950. The public are being invited to light candles at the gathering at Kampa Museum at 20:30. Other memorial events are also being held on Monday, including at Pankrác prison, where politician Milada Horáková became the only women put to death by the Communists.
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