Prime Minister Petr Nečas says a new justice minister will be appointed by Tuesday at the latest, before the president leaves for a week-long state visit to Indonesia and Malaysia on Wednesday. On a debate programme on Czech Television the prime minister said that the new minister would have to make structural changes to key parts of the justice ministry, which he said the previous minister avoided. The PM unexpectedly dismissed justice minister Jiří Pospíšil this week, criticising him for poor financial management and procrastinating on tough decisions. However, many have speculated that the decision was actually meant to block the imminent appointment of a highly respected prosecutor and anti-corruption crusader to the post of High State Prosecutor. Mr Nečas has declined to comment on who the new minister may be.
Regarding the on-going scandal around former defence minister Vlasta Parkanová, the prime minister also told Czech Television that he could not imagine that Parliament would not allow her to be given up for prosecution. Mr Nečas said the best thing Mrs Parkkanová could do would be to ask that she be stripped of immunity as a Member of Parliament herself. The case, he said, involved a number of questions that could only be cleared up in a court of law – including questions regarding the police investigation itself. The police accuse Parkanová of properly handling the 2010purchase of four Spanish CASA transport planes for the army via an intermediary.
The Czech Republic will probably not reach the planned balanced public budget in 2016 as lower economic growth stands in the way of meeting the government´s consolidation programme, Prime Minister Petr Necas has said. However, the government still has to get the public finance gap below 3 percent of GDP next year, he added. In its policy statement, the government counted on a balanced budget on a 2 percent GDP growth. The growth was at 1.7 percent last year, this year will be around zero and next year below 2 percent as well. Under these circumstances he said he considered it completely legitimate and reasonable to adjust the consolidation pace to concrete economic conditions.
Police cracked down on some three dozen squatters holding a music event at the Milada mansion in Prague 8. A helicopter and one hundred police officers arrived on the scene after midnight and arrested about 25 people for misdemeanours. A number of squatters climbed on to the roof, however, and police were still negotiating with them to come down on Sunday. The squatters were marking three years since police forced their community out of the mansion, which was abandoned in 1988 and is in poor condition. For more than 10 years the squatters had inhabited the building and organised concerts and anti-racism festivals.
The City of Prague has decided to considerably limit its partnership activities in cultural events, providing support instead through grants. According to the decision of the city council, as of next year, 90% of cultural funding will be distributed through grants based on selections procedures assessed by specialists. The system of partnership has often been criticised because it requires no such assessment. A total of 100 million crowns will be transferred from partnership to grant funds.
Not a single injury was reported after a bus carrying 45 children to a summer camp caught fire near the town of Chrudim on Saturday night. The bus was eventually totally consumed by the fire, however the children, as well as two monitors and the driver, were able to escape through the windows unharmed, even saving the luggage. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Thousands of supporters of the Sokol athletic movement set off across Prague on Sunday for the 15th annual Sokol conference. Organisers estimated that nearly 15,000 people turned out for the event, which began at Prague's Wenceslaus Square and included processions with historic banners, Sokol uniforms and live music. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the movement, which from the 19th century also played an important role in the Czech National Awakening. Organisers said it was important to show that Sokol is not just a historical but a living modern movement.
Leading TOP 09 member Petr Gazdík says the coalition will face a major problem if Lenka Bradáčová is not named Prague State Prosecutor. The comment comes amid serious tensions over the prime minister’s sudden dismissal of Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil last week. Prime Minister Nečas cited financial mismanagement as the reason for the sacking; pundits and much of the public however believe the move was meant to block the imminent appointment of Bradáčová, a highly respected prosecutor and anti-corruption crusader. Speaking to the news site iDnes, Mr Gazdík also cast doubt on the prime minister’s rationale for the dismissal but said he did not believe the Civic Democratic Party, of which the PM is chairman, would let the situation become intolerable for the coalition by impeding Bradáčová’s appointment.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Civic Democratic Party have released a statement in support of Prime Minister Nečas’s decision to sack the justice minister. A majority of the party’s leading members signed the statement, which said the prime minister’s confidence in his ministers was key to the government’s ability to act, and that he is fully entitled to dismiss someone on the basis of lack of trust. Referring to Mr Pospíšil’s popularity and the protests that followed his sacking, the members said that no politician’s media popularity was a mark of his managerial ability. The document was not signed by the party’s presidential candidate, Přemysl Sobotka, who said he could not express “full support” when he did not yet know the background information.
The energy company ČEZ has released the names of some of the winners of some of its tenders since 2006, after being criticised for not having done so. The daily Hospodářské noviny accused the power giant of paying out 5.54 billion crowns in closed tenders and ignoring a court ruling that said the state-owned company must provide such information. Hospodářské noviny says ČEZ awarded suppliers directly in 82% of 337 tenders. The anti-corruption organisation Pink Panther also accuses ČEZ of giving more than 300 million crowns in sponsor gifts over the last three years while refusing to say where the money went.