In Magazine: a 1905 oil painting of Emperor Franz Josef has gone from the waste dump to a Viennese auction house, a stolen Cinderella film costume is mysteriously returned, an 11-year-old schoolboy wins a “minister for a day” award and a twenty-three-year–old student says he has the answer to finding shelter for the homeless.
A survey released by the Czech Statistics Office released this week has shown that the standard of living in the Czech Republic continues to lag behind western counterparts. Although salaries have gone up, so have expenses and in real terms many households are earning less. Meanwhile, roughly 1.5 million people are living on – or well under – the poverty line. The only good news there is that the number there has gone down by one percent year-on-year.
Around 1.5 million Czechs are faced with poverty or material deprivation according to survey results released Wednesday by the Czech Statistical Office. The actual proportion of the population threatened with poverty actually fell last year to 8.6 percent from 9.6 percent, the office said. That total includes around 45 percent of those without jobs. The office said that although average household incomes rose in absolute terms last year they fell in real terms once higher costs were taken into account. The total facing material deprivation, defined as lacking basic household equipment, came to around 679,000.
Hundreds of Ukrainian nationals waited calmly in lines in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Prague as well as the Ukrainian consulate in Brno on Sunday to cast their vote in Ukraine’s presidential election. The polls remain open until Sunday evening. Ukrainians are electing a new head-of-state following months of unrest after the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovych. Pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country have reportedly managed to violently disrupt voting in areas.Ukrainians rank among the largest minorities in the Czech Republic: the number of eligible voters in the Czech capital is 14,437 and there are an additional 3,268 in the Czech Republic’s second-largest city.
There is a growing crossover between football hooligans and neo-Nazi groups, according to a newly published report from the BIS intelligence service. The trend has been observed at anti-Roma demonstrations. The report said that in general political extremists did not represent a genuine threat to democracy in the Czech Republic last year. However, the number of crimes committed linked to political extremism grew slightly in 2013. The most common such crime was “supporting groups aimed at repressing the rights and freedoms of others”.
A group of two dozen MPs from across the political spectrum received the 2013 bePROUD prize for supporting minority rights. The prize was awarded in recognition of their joint effort to push through legislation which would enable gay and lesbian couples to adopt their partner’s child. The draft legislation tabled shortly before the lower house was disbanded to open the way for early elections late last year failed to win approval. The 2013 anti-prize went to psychologist Jeroným Klimeš for “spreading stereotypes and homophobic statements about the gay and lesbian community”.
Approximately 1.5 million Czechs are living below the national poverty line. In line with their election promises, the Social Democrats have now unveiled a long-term poverty reduction plan aiming to improve their lot. But with money in short supply, the leading party in government will need to convince its own coalition partners of the need to spend tens of billions of crowns on higher pensions and social housing.
Hundreds of Vietnamese people from across the Czech Republic staged a protest on Sunday in front of China’s embassy in Prague. With banners that read “Stop China”, “Get Out of Vietnam”, and others, they protested against what they see as China’s intrusion into allegedly Vietnamese territorial waters in the South China Sea. In recent weeks, Vietnam’s government has complained of incidents in which Chinese vessels deliberately rammed Vietnamese ships in an attempt to gain control of parts of the area. The organizers of Prague’s protest told the news agency ČTK that despite living far from Vietnam, they had a duty to defend their home country. There are an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 Vietnamese people living in the Czech Republic, many of them Czech citizens.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Saturday commemorated Romany victims of the Holocaust at the site of the former concentration camp in Lety, in southern Bohemia. Mr Sobotka said his government would not release funds necessary to remove a pig farm, established at the site in the 1970s, and suggested the money be instead used for the education of Romany children. Some 1,300 Czech Romanies passed through the camp between 1940 and 1943; round 330 of them died there, while another 500 were deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The Czech Interior Ministry has found that the police broke no laws when they raided two Islamic centres in Prague two weeks ago, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said after a meeting the police president. The organized crime unit of the Czech police raided a mosque and an Islamic community centre in the capital, quoting the distribution of a racist book as the reason. The operation came under criticism by Muslim community leaders as well as some foreign diplomats and public figures. On Friday, Minister Chovanec said he had asked police bosses to consider all possible aspects and risks of any such operation in the future.
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