The Social Democratic Party has officially nominated Senator Jiří Dienstbier for the post of president. The party deputy chair was the sole candidate for the presidential race after the withdrawal of economist Jan Švejnar. Senator Dienstbier received support from 107 members of the party’s executive committee, while 35 voted against his nomination. Paradoxically, some party members would prefer to support former party leader Milos Zeman who left the Social Democrats in 2007 and is now a presidential nominee for the Party of Civic Rights which he founded in 2009.
The Social Democrats have called for a cleansing of the party’s Central Bohemian leadership in connection with the corruption charges against former governor David Rath. Following a meeting of the party leadership on Saturday, chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said that there was general agreement that local leaders close to David Rath should resign and new elections should take place. The party is concerned about the negative impact the Rath corruption case could have on its chances in the autumn regional and senate elections. The former governor was arrested on Monday night with seven million crowns in cash and is suspected of being involved in a scheme abusing EU funds.
Addressing a conference of the Communist Party its leader Vojtech Filip said the time was ripe for revolutionary social changes. Filip who is running for re-election at the weekend party conference in Liberec said it was time to bring down the centre-right government and halt the anti-social reforms which were impoverishing the vast majority of the population. He said broad public support for anti-government demonstrations showed that the situation had reached a breaking point and ground-breaking changes would inevitably follow. Rousing speeches at the two day conference indicate that the Communists have not given up their long-term goal –to restore socialism in the country.
A commemorative ceremony for victims of the communist regime took place at Motol cemetery in Prague on Saturday. The event was attended by politicians, former dissidents and family members of those who died at the hands of the communists mainly in the hard-line 1950s. Motol cemetery was one of the places where they were secretly buried in mass graves. The dead were cremated and buried there only under registered numbers. Around two-thirds of the 78 victims have been identified. The existence of the mass grave at Motol cemetery was only discovered after the fall of communism.
Book World Prague 2012 is slowly drawing to a close. The four-day book festival, which ends on Sunday, is the biggest event of its kind in the Czech Republic, presenting a wide variety of literary genres: fiction, non-fiction, scientific journals, children’s books and rare prints from both and home and abroad. It traditionally attracts book lovers, publishers and suppliers from around the world. This year the special theme was Arab World Literature.
On Saturday night Prague’s O2 arena will host the sixth annual Sensation dance music event held in the Czech Republic. Organizers are promising a splendid audio-visual show and seven DJs. The indoor electronic dance music event traditionally attended by dancers dressed exclusively in white originated in the Netherlands and has gained increasing popularity around the world. In past years it attracted as many as 17 thousand people to Prague’s O2 arena.
Czech GPs are warning that an increasing number of Czechs are overweight. According to statistics 52 percent of the population is overweight and a growing number of people are obese. Tens of thousands of people now fall into the latter category meaning they weigh over 150 kilos. Doctors say there is a direct correlation between obesity and the growing incidence of heart disease and diabetes in the Czech Republic.
Visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday accused Iran
of playing a “chess game” with world powers in order to guard its
nuclear gains. Speaking shortly after a meeting with President Vaclav
Klaus, Mr. Netanyahu said that although he favours a peaceful solution to
the issue he can see no indication that Iran is ready to wind up its
nuclear programme and suggested that Teheran was playing a chess game with
the international community in order to buy time.
Security issues and the situation in the Middle East have been high on the agenda of two-days of Czech-Israeli talks, with the Czech prime minister defending Israel’s right to protect itself against terrorism and rejecting attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the Jewish state. The Israeli head of government said the two nations have a close affinity since Czechs know what it is like to be a believer in democracy in a hostile region.
The leadership of the Social Democratic party has called on former party member David Rath to give up his seat in the lower house. Mr. Rath, who is in custody, facing charges of corruption, has already resigned as governor of Central Bohemia but has given no indication that he plans to vacate his seat in the lower house. This has caused considerable consternation among MPs since it would mean that Mr. Rath would have to be escorted to parliament sessions from jail, flanked by a police escort. Under Czech law an MP cannot be forced into vacating his post and there is no precedent as to how to deal with such a situation.
In related news, the court in Usti nad Labem which ordered Rath’s custody claims that he is entitled to present his case to Parliament’s Mandatory and Immunity Committee and to attend the parliament session which will take a vote on whether or not to strip him of his immunity. A spokesman for the court said on Friday that it would be up to MPs to decide how best to arrange this. One of the suggestions has been a videoconference style link-up.