Demonstrators gathered in front of the education and culture ministries in
protest of reforms and austerity measures. Activists, students and unions
associated with the Stop the Government movement on Tuesday held protest
happenings in front of the two ministries, including outdoor theatre,
concerts and public debates. A planned blockade failed for lack of
Tuesday’s event is to be the first of five such “blockades” of ministries planned for the next two weeks. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has called blocking access to ministries a violent and democratically illegitimate act. It was legitimate to express one’s opinion freely, he said, but trying to keep people from going to work was unacceptable and could lead to ‘jeopardizing freedom’. He added that the relevant authorities should react accordingly.
Former Central Bohemian governor David Rath, who is currently under arrest on suspicion of corruption, will be able to attend a session in the lower house of Parliament, of which he is still a member, in which deputies will vote on whether or not Mr Rath should be stripped of his immunity. Mr Rath had filed for permission to attend the session on Monday with the state prosecutor for the Ustí nad Labem region Lenka Bradáčová. She granted it, on condition that he only attends the period during which his case is discussed. Deputies are yet to decide whether or not this session of the lower house will be open to the public.
The new faction around deputy prime minister Karolína Peake, formerly of Public Affairs, has officially been registered as a party. Mrs Peake said on Tuesday that she was glad the registration of the party had been successful and thanked all 1800 citizens who had signed a petition in support of her new LIDEM party. Mrs Peake founded the group after walking out on junior coalition partner Public Affairs in early May over the way the party presented itself. Her split with the party and the subsequent walk-out of some of its other members cast serious doubt over the future of the government coalition; however, it survived a vote of confidence.
US President Barack Obama on Tuesday awarded the Medal of Freedom to Madeleine Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia and fled the country with her parents to escape the Nazi occupation. She spent some time in England before immigrating to the US in 1948. Albright was the first woman to hold the nation’s top diplomatic post of secretary of state. Among this year’s recipients are John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, and legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The Medal of Freedom is America’s highest civilian honor. It is presented to individuals who have contributed to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace or cultural endeavors.
Czech President Václav Klaus has signed into law legislation that will gradually increase emission fees. On Tuesday, the president ratified a law under which firms with a high level of emissions will have to pay 4200 Czech crowns per ton of CO2 emitted starting next year. The fee will gradually be increased to 14,700 crowns by 2021. The new regulation will mostly affect large corporations. The Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic opposes it.
Czech support of European integration is on the decline, according to a fresh survey by the American Pew Research Center. Among all eight EU member states polled, the Czech Republic sees the membership most critically. The survey also found that Czechs were especially critical of their prime minister’s approach to the debt crisis in the Eurozone. The Pew Research Center concludes that the financial crisis within the union has also spurred a deep crisis of member countries’ trust in the EU. Among the countries polled were Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the non-Eurozone members: the Czech Republic along with Poland and Great Britain.
A new exhibition of pictures of the late ex-president Václav Havel is set to open in the Prague City Gallery on Old Town Square on June 15. On display will be mostly photographs taken during his time in office – shots from his official visits abroad but also those that were taken behind the scenes. The exhibition has been organized by the Czech News Agency ČTK in memory of the late president. The agency has some 12,000 pictures of Mr Havel in its archives. The exhibition runs through July 6th.
Czech national team coach Michal Bílek on Tuesday presented his picks for the European Football Championship. Among the 23-man squad are Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický as well as Chelsea’s Petr Čech. Rosický is still recovering from a calf injury but the national team coach says he is confident that his condition will have improved by the time the championship, co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine, kicks off on June 8. The Czech Republic faces Russia in their first game on June 8, followed by Greece and Poland in the group level of the tournament.
Czech soccer star Petr Čech has extended his contract with Chelsea until the year 2016. Commenting on his new contract, Čech said he hoped the next four years with his club would be as successful as the last eight had been. Since joining the Premier League in 2004, Čech has made over 360 appearances, won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups. In the recent Champions League finals, Čech helped secure Chelsea’s victory by saving three penalties, one in extra time and two in the shootout. His new contract makes him one of the 20 best-paid soccer players internationally.