More than six hundred people gathered in the centre of Prague on Thursday
evening to protest the unexpected dismissal of justice minister Jiří
Pospíšil earlier this week; more than 200 people attended a similar
rally in Brno. Among those present were former constitutional court judge
Wágnerová, the leader of the Green Party Ondřej Liška, judge Vojtěch
Cepl and the head of the Czech branch of Transparency International David
Ondračka. The unprecedented show of public support for a dismissed
minister is related to broad disbelief regarding the official reasons
The prime minister, who cited mismanagement and budgetary issues as the reasons for Pospíšil’s dismissal, is suspected of having acted under pressure from powerful interest groups who fear an anti-corruption crusade launched by the Prague State Attorney’s Office. The former justice minister was sacked with unprecedented speed just as he was about to decide on the appointment of a highly-respected and scrupulously honest prosecutor to the post of Prague High State Attorney.
The state of human rights worsened in the Czech Republic in 2011, according to a report released on Friday by the Czech Helsinki Committee. The report cited government austerity measures impacting seniors, the unemployed and socially-weaker families as a factor. Also underlined are an apparent drop in the integration of Romany children at schools, a rise in the number of attacks against gays and lesbians, and overcrowding in prisons. The committee’s Anna Šabatová told the media that regarding austerity measures the worsening was not just in the cuts themselves but an apparent “disinterest” on the part of politicians. She stressed that, in her view, an “awakening” of civic society in the country was one of the few positive developments in 2011.
President Václav Klaus on Friday named Major General Petr Pavel the new chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, replacing the outgoing Vlastimil Picek. The new head officially takes up the post on July 1. General Pavel has outlined as one of his main priorities the need to uphold the army’s current level of efficiency.
June 29 marks the last day Czechs could change their health insurance company or face an 18-month delay. Due to an amendment to legislation on health insurance firms, clients after Friday will have to wait until 2014. The Health Ministry says it wants to prevent what it called ‘insurance company pseudo-tourism’ whereby firms pay large sums to try and reel-in others firms’ clients.
The 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicks off on Friday evening with a gala ceremony at the spa town's Hotel Thermal. At the ceremony, British actress Helen Mirren, the star of such films as The Queen or the British TV crime series Prime Suspect, will be honoured with a lifetime achievement award. Mrs Mirren’s latest film, The Door, directed by Hungarian director Istvan Szabo (Mephisto, Oberst Redl), will be screened at the festival on July 1. Over the course of nine days some 200 feature films will be screened, 22 of which will be world premieres.
Intervals in Prague public transit will be longer as the summer holidays begin, affecting not only busses and trams but also the metro. Metro line ‘C’, for example, will see longer intervals even at peak hours on work days, as well as Saturday morning. Two tram lines – the 19 and 21 – have been cancelled.
The public has been warned to brace for a record-breaking heat wave in the coming days. Meteorologists have forecast temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius over the weekend, the hottest weather in recent memory at the start of the summer holidays. The hottest weather on record on July 1st was registered in 1905 when monitoring devices in Klementinum showed just under 35 degrees Celsius. People have been warned to increase their intake of liquids and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
Twenty-six-year-old Czech tennis player Lukáš Rosol stunned the tennis world on Thursday, ousting World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the 2nd round at Wimbledon. Rosol, ranked 100th in the world, defeated the 11-time Grand Slam champion in five sets 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Rosol impressed with 65 winners; his win was described as inspirational and electric by news sites.