The Social Democrats have made a thinly-veiled attack on their ANO coalition partners in a programme resolution passed at a party congress in Prague on Saturday. The document states that the Czech Republic’s system of democracy cannot be the subject of manipulation by rich oligarchs who own and control companies, the media and political groupings. ANO are headed by Andrej Babiš, a billionaire businessman who runs one of the country’s biggest firms and owns daily newspapers and the most popular Czech radio station. The Social Democrats said that in order to avoid Czech democracy becoming a “parody” legislation needed to be introduced defining conflict of interest more clearly and tightening rules on party financing. ANO came from virtually nowhere to finish second in elections in 2013 and have consistently topped opinion polls.
The Social Democratic Party have elected deputy chairpersons at a congress in Prague. Delegates cast their ballots for foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, lower house speaker Jan Hamáček, Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová, hitherto deputy chairman for the economy Martin Starec and deputy health minister Lenka Teska Arnoštová. Milan Chovanec was elected statutory chairman, the second-highest post in the party. The outcome of Friday evening’s voting is seen as reinforcing the position of party leader and prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who backed all of those approved and had stood unopposed for the top job earlier in the day.
Police in Prague have arrested a man suspected of stabbing another man at Invalidovna station in the city’s Metro system on Thursday. The suspect attacked a 39-year-old man who was getting onto a train and stabbed him in the neck before fleeing the scene. The victim, who sustained a deep wound, was taken to the city’s Na Homolce hospital. Police say there are no indications the two knew each other.
The freshly appointed minister of justice, Robert Pelikán, has apologised in writing to three architects who are seeking compensation from the state over a court case they were involved in dragging on for 23 years, iDnes.cz reported. The three were last year cleared in a case brought by a former teacher who demanded an apology for their alleged slander in accusing him of demagoguery and careerism during the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Mr. Pelikán expressed deep regret over the matter and described the length of the legal battle as shocking.
Foreign direct investment into the Czech Republic grew 70 year-on-year in 2014, according to data released on Friday by the Czech National Bank. Around two-thirds of the CZK 120 billion invested in the country by foreign companies last year came from neighbouring Germany. Property and financial services were the most popular investment, attracting half of the total figure between them.
Temperatures in the second half of March should be above average for the time of year, reaching up to 14 degrees Celsius, according to a regular monthly forecast released on Saturday by the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute. However, the turn of March and April should be accompanied by a drop in temperatures and the first half of next month is expected to be colder than long-term average. Easter weekend, the first in April, is likely to be rainy.
Prague’s Divadla Na Zábradlí (Theatre on the Balustrade) swept the boards at the annual Theatre Critics’ Awards on Friday night. It was named Theatre of the Year for 2014, its Velvet Havel was named Production of the Year and it picked up several other gongs in other categories. The winning production was a dramatic, music-infused interpretation of the life of late president and playwright Václav Havel, whose career took off at the theatre in the 1960s. The awards are organised by the magazine Svět a divadlo.
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