The Prague authorities have filed a criminal complaint against an unknown
perpetrator in connection with the collapse of a footbridge in the city at
the start of December, the mayor of the city, Adriana Krnáčová, said on
Tuesday. The authorities believe there is evidence for a case of
endangerment through neglect.
Four people were injured, two seriously, when the footbridge near Prague Zoo collapsed on December 4.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, on Tuesday visited Slovakia on the final
foreign trip of his term as head of state. He was received in Bratislava by
his Slovak counterpart, Andrej Kiska, at his Grassalkovich Palace residence
in Bratislava. The two presidents were due to lay wreathes at the Memorial
to Czechoslovak Statehood and the Milan Rastislav Štefánik Memorial,
which is dedicated to one of the founders of Czechoslovakia.
Mr. Zeman is standing for reelection as Czech head of state in January and leads in the opinion polls.
Prague’s Municipal Court has ruled that a police intervention in which
officers removed a Tibetan and a Taiwanese flag from two men during a visit
to the city by the Chinese president was unlawful. The two had taken the
case against the police force. In a binding verdict, the court ruled on
Tuesday that the police had only been justified in checking the identity
documents of the plaintiffs. An internal police review had previously
decided that the confiscation of the flags had been legitimate.
The incident took place during a visit to Prague early last year by Xi Jinping. There were clashes between protestors and supporters of the Chinese president while he was in the city and Chinese flags were erected on flagpoles on the road to the airport and near Prague Castle.
The General Inspectorate of the Security Services on Tuesday launched a
series of raids in Prague in connection with the alleged influencing of
criminal proceedings. The Czech News Agency said that officers from the
inspectorate, which polices the police, had carried out searches of the
premises of law firms. One was reported to be on Wenceslas Square.
The news site Novinky.cz said that several civilians and members of the security services had been arrested. Another news site, Aktuálně.cz, reported that four of those detained were police officers.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is planning to appoint a new government
commissioner for sport, the newspaper Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday,
citing Mr. Babiš himself. The first appointee to the post will be Milan
Hnilička, a former ice hockey player who was a member of the Czech team
that won at the Winter Olympics in 1998.
Mr. Hnilička will be charged with setting up a new state agency that will oversee sports matters. Mr. Babiš said that once up and running the organisation would then establish rules for the allocation of sports funding from state coffers and work on sports policy.
The population of the Czech Republic grew by 18,700 in the first three
quarters of 2017, according to official figures released on Tuesday. The
country’s population stood at 10,597,500 at the end of September. The
rise has been mainly attributed to immigration, in particular from Ukraine,
Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.
The number of births in the Czech Republic in the first nine months of the year was very slightly down on the same period in 2016, while the number of marriages grew. Thirty was the most popular age for men to marry, compared to 27 for women.
Nominees for the new ANO minority government will lay a wreath at the tomb
of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk at Lány on
Wednesday morning before being appointed later that day, an ANO
spokesperson said. The ministerial candidates will travel by bus to the
presidential retreat, which is near Prague.
The ANO cabinet will be named by President Miloš Zeman a week after the head of state appointed the party’s leader, Andrej Babiš, prime minister. ANO are currently trying to find support or at least tolerance for the party’s minority government, which must undergo a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies.
The Civic Democrat leadership, meeting on Monday, confirmed that the party,
the second-largest in the lower house, will not back ANO leader Andrej
Babiš’ proposed minority government. Civic Democrat chairman Petr Fiala
confirmed the party’s position, although he is to meet with Prime
Minister Babiš next week.
The newly-appointed Prime Minister Babiš will meet with all parties in the hopes of drumming up support for a cabinet made up of ANO and unaffiliated ministers.
Mr Fiala said he looked forward to learning more about the new government’s policy proposal, not least ideas his party would consider “good and reasonable” for the Czech Republic.
The break-up of Czechoslovakia, orchestrated by the then heads of the Czech
and Slovak governments, Václav Klaus and Vladimir Mečiar, respectively,
was unavoidable – that was the message from a Prague conference on Monday
between the former leaders who met on stage to debate the issue. Mr Mečiar
was in Prague for the first time in 19 years. The debate was held at the
National Museum - the building which used to house the Federal Assembly,
the federal parliament of Czechoslovakia from January 1, 1969 to the
dissolution of Czechoslovakia on December 31, 1992.
This December marks the 25th anniversary of what came to be known as the Velvet Divorce.
Mr Klaus spoke first, reminding listeners that the divorce was well-planned and above all peaceful, without ill will between the two sides. He made comparisons to the descent into war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s as well as contentious and strained relations today over the so-called hard-Brexit or separatist aspirations in Catalonia.
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