Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said, in an interview that was published in the weekend edition of the daily Mladá fronta dnes, that his party, the Civic Democrats, had been preparing for possible snap elections for weeks. Mr Nečas explained that the senior government coalition party started putting together an election campaign two weeks ago, for fear that spats over austerity measures would force the government to resign. In addition, he said, the trial of Public Affairs deputy Vít Bárta, the de-facto leader of the junior coalition partner, was a factor in the party’s decision to prepare for possible early elections. The prime minister said that the Civic Democrats were concerned that in the case of an acquittal, Mr Bárta would put the government under pressure in an effort to return to the cabinet. The verdict in the highly publicized corruption trial will be delivered next Friday.
Deputy leader of the government coalition’s TOP 09 party, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, has said that his party would consider forming a coalition with the Social Democrats in the case of early elections. He added that while he would not welcome working together with the current opposition party, TOP 09 would prefer it if junior coalition partner Public Affairs quit the coalition. The party was pushing through its agenda in a way that damaged the government, he said. However, the TOP 09 leader added that the coalition needed the junior partner’s deputies’ votes to push through reforms that will work to improve the country’s prosperity and prevent it from sliding into a financial crisis.
Far-right extremists from the Workers Party for Social Justice held a march through the predominantly Roma-inhabited neighborhood of Chanov in the suburbs of Most in Northern Bohemia on Saturday. Some 60 to 70 people joined the march; much fewer than had previously been expected. Some one hundred anti-right-wing protesters also gathered in the impoverished Chanov area but pledged that their demonstration would be a non-violent one. Police were monitoring the situation closely; there were no clashes between both groups.
Dozens of Prague residents paid tribute to homeless people who died from exposure in the winter months with a minute of quiet at the Woodrow Wilson statue near the Czech capital’s main station on Saturday. Among the participants of the gathering were some homeless men and women as well as people working for homeless charities. In honor of the homeless who died this winter was laid down near the statue. Organizers said that unfortunately, people living in affluent societies were getting used to the existence of abject poverty and that the event was meant to highlight the need for social change within Europe.
The Czech police’s organized crime unit has busted an international gang of men who were engaged in human trafficking, pimping and illegal drug production. The leader of the gang, a 30-year-old Czech, as well as the nine other members of Slovak, Ukrainian and Croatian nationalities, approached young women in crisis situations and led them to believe that they could offer them a lucrative job opportunity. The victims of the gang were forced to prostitute themselves along the E55 highway. Those who failed to make at least 150 euros per day were beaten and refused food. The men face prison sentences of up to 12 years; the gang’s leader is already behind bars for other criminal activities.
A record-sized egg sculpture composed of 45,000 individual eggs was created in Bludov, in the country’s Šumperk region near Olomouc, on Saturday. The huge egg object is over four meters tall and has a diameter of ten meters. It is composed of painted Easter eggs that have been tied together. People from across the country contributed to the record egg; some eggs were even sent in from abroad. This is the fourth such record from Bludov to make it into the Czech book of records.
Serbian tennis player Janko Tipsarevic beat his Czech opponent Radek Štěpánek in a stormy match in the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Prague’s O2 arena on Friday. He defeated the Czech tennis star 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 9-7 in an intense encounter. Tipsarevic drew Serbia level at 1-1 against the Czechs in their quarterfinal. In the cup, doubles in the best-of-five series take place on Saturday and reverse singles on Sunday. The winner advances to the semifinals in September. The game wrapped up with accusations of improper conduct. The Serbian player was pulled away from the net by his captain following a confrontation with Štěpánek. While the Czech player claims the two merely shook hands, Tipsarevic says that Štěpánek gave him the finger and told him that he stinks.
The Prague branch of the junior coalition party Public Affairs has called
on party leader Radek John to resign. They blame him for the party’s low
credibility and argue that the party leadership needs new blood in order to
regain public trust. Mr. John is perceived as a puppet of Vit Bárta, the
head of the party’s deputies club, who financed the party’s
establishment and masterminded its success in the last general elections.
Mr. Bárta, who formerly owned the biggest security agency in the country,
has been accused of infiltrating business into politics. He is now being
tried for corruption.
The party’s Prague branch also voiced support for the party’s three ministers who defied an order from the broad party leadership to resign, saying that to do so would have been a big mistake.
The state attorney in the highly publicized trial of Public Affairs deputy Vít Bárta has proposed a suspended sentence for the politician for trying to buy the loyalty of two former party members with large sums of money. She also proposed a suspended sentence for Jaroslav Škárka, who took the money and failed to report the bribe for some time. Attorney Vrbová said she was proposing suspended sentences in view of the fact that both politicians previously had a clean criminal record. The verdicts in the case are expected to be announced next Friday.
The opposition Social Democrats are against the idea of scrapping the ministries of culture and environment, now being discussed by the coalition within broader cost-cutting measures. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said scrapping the environment ministry was particularly unacceptable in view of the urgent need to address serious air pollution problems in Moravia and Silesia. The junior coalition party Public Affairs which has linked its continued support for the government to a series of far-reaching demands, has proposed reducing the number of ministries as a partial alternative to cuts in the social sphere. The Civic Democrats and Public Affairs are now allegedly considering scrapping the ministries of culture, environment and local government. A decision is expected on Tuesday.