A part of Adolf Hitler’s collection of paintings has been rediscovered by an amateur Czech historian. Jiří Kuchar identified the seven paintings in a private section of a depository of the Doksany Monastery. Hitler had originally hid the works of art, which were either bought or seized, in the South Bohemian town of Vyšší Brod, apparently in preparation for the opening of a museum. After Germany´s defeat, the US Army sent the collection to a gathering point for similar artefacts. How the seven paintings came to be in Doksany is not known, according to TV Nova, which reported that no one from the monastery’s staff knew of their origin. Mr Kuchar estimated that the works could fetch up to 50 million crowns at auction.
The opposition Social Democrats are proposing a constitutional amendment requiring that the president obtain a countersignature on pardons. The proposal suggests that pardons be checked in this way by the prime minister or justice minister. The party already made an unsuccessful push for such countersignatures in the amendment on direct presidential elections. The party has asked the president’s office for explanations of a number of controversial pardons, particularly regarding two recent ones that are being investigated by the police.
Overall confidence in the Czech economy was up again in February, according to information from the Czech Statistical Office. Compared to the preceding month, the confidence indicator was higher by 0.8%, thanks in particular to a rise in the indicator of entrepreneurial confidence, namely in industry and select services. Commerce saw a decline while confidence in construction stayed at January levels. The overall monthly indicator continues to exceed levels from the recession year of 2009, though lower in a year-on-year comparison.
The Czech police have prepared charges against a group of 14 people for money laundering, corruption, abuse of power, forgery and tax evasion worth at least 630 million crowns. A police spokesman said it was one of the most difficult tax cases that the anti-corruption police have dealt with. The 26,000-page file on the case suggests highly organised and sophisticated criminal activities that penetrated public administration. The suspects founded several firms that had high incomes from advertising services. To pay lower taxes, the firms registered fictitious invoices. Most of the suspects may be punished with up to 10 years in prison if the charges are proved.
The National Museum is opening an exhibition highlighting the cult of personality of the first Czechoslovak communist president, Klement Gottwald. The exhibition, named Laboratory of Power, is located in the underground rooms of Prague´s Vítkov Memorial that the communist regime built to embalm Gottwald in 1953. The memorial was then turned into a mausoleum. The exhibition includes the machine room and other rooms with original equipment where the work on Gottwald’s preservation took place. Photographs and slogans of the era underscore the atmosphere of the 1950s and highlight the causes of the communist coup of February 25, 1948, led by Gottwald as the Communist Party head and then Czechoslovak prime minister.
Some three dozen Czech Communists paid respects to former president Klement Gottwald at the Olšanský cemetery in Prague on Friday to mark the 64th anniversary of the February Coup. Communist deputy Marta Semelova gave a speech praising the 40 years of the Communist regime and denounced the post-communist era. The group laid flowers at the grave to which Gottwald's remains were transferred after the closing of the mausoleum at Vitkov Hill. The event was marked by particularly low attendance compared to previous years, when around 100, mostly elderly, people would attend.
Viktoria Plzeň lost 3:1 to the German Bundesliga side Schalke 04 after overtime in the best of 16 in the UEFA Europe League. The Czech team has failed to advance to the quarterfinals. A late equalizer from Viktoria Plzeň came at the 88th minute, when Czech midfielder František Rajtoral exploited a clearance attempt by Schalke to force overtime. Ahead of the defeat, Viktoria Plzeň was the only Czech club in the European competition. In December, the club lost to AC Milan, dropping out of the Champions League.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has announced that his party, coalition member TOP 09, would be pushing for a Czech signature of the EU’s fiscal compact. Mr. Schwarzenberg said that he would try to convince Prime Minister Petr Nečas to change his stand on the issue even after the upcoming EU summit, where the compact is expected to be signed by 25 of the union’s 27 members. According to the Czech news agency ČTK, sources close to the Czech prime minister are expecting that Mr. Nečas will stick to his previous refusal to join the fiscal compact, aimed at establishing tighter fiscal discipline across the EU, at the March 1 summit in Brussels. Ahead of the summit, the Czech government will be discussing the issue. The Czech Republic and the EU were the only two members of the EU to not sign the compact.
Czech MEP Zuzana Roithová is planning to run for the post of president as
a candidate of the Christian Democrats. Mrs. Roithová officially
her planned candidacy at a news conference on Thursday. The slogan of her
campaign is ČLOVĚK, the Czech word for human, Roithová’s acronym for
the pillars of her program, which she says focuses on human and Christian
values, responsibility, and European integration. If the Christian
Democrats’ party, which holds only five seats in the Senate, is not able
to win senate members from other parties to support the MEP’s candidacy,
Mrs. Roithová will need to secure 50,000 signatures from voters to be
to officially run for the post.
Mrs. Roithová has been involved in politics since 1998, when she became the health minister. Later, she was elected into the Czech Senate and joined the European Parliament in 2004. The next presidential elections will be held in 2013. For the first time, Czechs will be able to elect their president directly thanks to a recent change in law.
The European Commission on Thursday issued a new economic forecast for the Czech Republic. The fresh forecast is significantly worse than the previous one; the Czech economy is expected to stagnate in 2012. In November, the EC had forecast a growth of 0.7 percent of GDP. In addition, the EC said that data from this January indicate that Czech consumers have curbed their spending in the first month of this year, most likely due to the unstable economy as well as redundancies across the labor market. Commenting on the growth forecast, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Thursday that the worsened outlook did not come as a surprise since it was basically identical with the Czech finance ministry’s January growth forecast of 0.2 percent for 2012. The EC also adjusted its forecast for the EU and the eurozone; for both, it also expects the economy to stagnate.