The Czech Senate announced Thursday that in early February it will be
voting on a proposal for direct presidential elections that got the
go-ahead from the lower house of Parliament in December and is pending
approval from the upper house. President Václav Klaus may also attend the
Senate session on February 8. If approved by the Senate, the amendment
would also limit the president’s powers.
In December, a deal between the coalition and the opposition Social Democrats ensured sufficient support for the motion which had been debated for years. Should the proposal be approved by the upper chamber of Parliament, it would allow Czechs to elect their president directly for the first time in 2013, when current president Václav Klaus leaves office.
The opposition Social Democrats have filed a motion with the
Constitutional Court to annul 14 reform bills that the government
pushed through the lower house of Parliament in November. According to the
opposition, MPs were not given sufficient time to vote on the bills. They
also should not have been voted on as a package, since they included such
different bills as an increase in VAT, an overhaul of the pension system
and a change in welfare legislation. The head of the Social Democrats,
Bohuslav Sobotka, on Thursday criticized the government coalition, stating
that its move to introduce mandatory public service for unemployed persons
as part of the reform was against both constitutional and international
In November, the center-right coalition pushed a package of 14 reform bills through Parliament, overturning a Senate veto. The move had been preceded by a week-long filibuster in the lower house.
Zambian authorities are investigating how three Czechs, who were arrested
in the country on charges of espionage, managed to leave unnoticed, the
Zambia Daily Mail writes on Thursday. According to the report, neither the
Zambian foreign minister nor the Czech men’s lawyer were aware that they
had left Zambia. The three Czech citizens, Jan Coufal, Jiří Cetl and
Michal Vébr, who were arrested in October and later released on bail
returned home in late 2011, but have not disclosed any information about
the exact circumstances of their escape. The Czech Foreign Ministry, which
tried to secure their release through regular diplomatic channels, has put
an information embargo on the case.
The three men were visiting the Zambian capital of Lusaka as tourists after a business trip to South Africa. They were arrested and charged with spying after being found to have photographed an old Czechoslovak plane displayed in front of a military base.
A Prague city court on Thursday dealt an eight-year prison sentence to the
father of the “wolf children,” two boys aged one and two whose parents
had never taken them outside. The mother of the children, who have
grave developmental setbacks due to what their parents describe as an
alternative parenting style, was given a three-year suspended sentence.
court has ruled that she also needs to seek psychological care.
Both the man and the woman deny inflicting harm on their children and claim that they simply wanted to raise them in an untraditional way. The older of the two has not yet developed a biting reflex since he was never fed solid food. Experts say that both boys are severely lagging behind in their development as a result of inadequate parenting.
According to a poll by the SANEP agency, over 80 percent of Czechs believe
that the state funeral for the late president Václav Havel was dignified.
More than half of those polled said that the attendance of international
political leaders at the funeral inspired a feeling of national price in
them. Mr. Havel’s time in office had helped promote the Czech Republic
and its reputation worldwide, said 80 percent of the respondents. Over 70
percent believe that Mr. Havel’s contribution to democracy in the
Some 40 countries had sent representatives to the funeral of Mr. Havel, which was held on December 23. Among them were French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German President Christian Wulff, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron and others.
The supermarket chain Tesco will open its first online shop in the Czech Republic on Friday. For now, the webshop will retail food and drugstore goods and only deliver to customers in and nearby Prague. Tesco is the first retailer of everyday goods in the country to offer the option of online shopping; a spokeswoman for the company said it is planning to expand the service and gradually make it available to consumers in the whole country. The popularity of internet shopping in the Czech Republic is on the rise. According to estimates, the volume of online sales grew by 4 billion Czech crowns to a record 37 billion in 2011.
Brno police have arrested a man who is suspected of murder. According to an officer of Brno’s criminal police unit, the man has admitted to suffocating a 43-year-old man and burning the victim’s body. The brutal murder took place in late December; apparently it happened after an argument between the victim and the perpetrator. After killing the man, the suspect allegedly drove to the edge of town, where he hid the body. If found guilty, he faces a prison sentence of up to 18 years.
Czech cross-country skier Lukáš Bauer on Thursday came in eight in the seventh Tour de Ski pursuit at the FIS World Cup. The race spanned 32 kilometers, from the Italian Toblach to Cortina. The Swiss Dario Cologna took a huge step towards retaining his Tour de Ski title with a victory in the 32 kilometer pursuit. The Swiss started the free technique event just 13.5 seconds ahead of main rival Petter Northug, the current World Cup leader. Czech skier Martin Jakš came in 11th in Thursday’s race.
The junior Czech national hockey team on Thursday beat Slovakia 5:2 to finish fifth at the world championships in Canada. The Czechs, who saw their medal hopes crushed by the Russians in the quarter-finals, went ahead early on against the Slovaks, and were leading 3:0 by the end of the first period, and easily controlled the rest of the game. Fifth place is the best result for the junior Czech team in the last four years.
Strong winds and heavy snow will hit the Czech Republic on Thursday. In some places, the storm, which meteorologists have dubbed Andrea, may develop hurricane strength with wind velocities of up to 126 kilometers per hour. A high alert has been issued for the Ústí region, in the north of the country. Winds in lower areas could reach a velocity of between 75 and 100 km per hour. Between 10 and 50 cm of fresh snow is expected in elevated areas. The windy weather has lead to traffic complications. Fallen trees are blocking roads in the Hradec Králové region. Police have shut down truck traffic at two border crossings.