Prime Minister Petr Nečas has announced the details of a planned cabinet reshuffle. The head of the Civic Democrats’ deputies group in the lower house Zbynek Stanjura is to take up the post of transport minister, while Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake will head the defense ministry. Her place at the head of the government’s legislative council is to be filled by her deputy Petr Mlsna. There are plans to eventually merge the transport ministry with that of trade and industry which would be run by a Civic Democrat. President Klaus is to appoint the new ministers on Wednesday.
Snowfall and icy conditions have continued to complicate the situation on Czech roads. Several roads on Tuesday morning were blocked or narrowed by slow-moving transport trucks. According to a police transport website visibility near Strakonice was less than 100 metres. Heavy snowfall in the area of Uherské Hradište left a three-kilometre stretch of road impassable; fog also complicated matters. Drivers have been warned to exercise extreme caution and not set out for the mountain regions without winter gear.
Qatar Airlines has said it is as yet undecided as to whether it wants to make a bid for shares in the Czech national carrier Czech Airlines, or ČSA. The heard of Qatar Airlines Akbar Baker told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that his company was still studying the offer. The government is offering to sell a 96 percent stake to a European buyer; other airlines could only purchase a less than 50 percent stake in order to ensure that ČSA remains a national carrier. The Czech finance minister said last week that of the 50 airlines the Czech government had approached only two had expressed interest in the privatization of ČSA: Korean Air and Qatar Airlines. The Czech government made a previous unsuccessful attempt at selling off ČSA in 2009.
Former Communist-era prosecutor and judge, Karel Vaš, a key figure in
show trials in the late 1940s and early 1950s in Czechoslovakia, is dead
at 96. The news website iDnes was the first to report
the story. After 1989, the former judge was charged with, as the main
prosecutor, having contributed to the judicial murder of General Heliodor
Píka in 1949; he was never punished as the case fell under the statute of
The police labelled the trial of Píka (a representative of the anti-Nazi resistance) a judicial farce. An investigation found that a fake document was added to General Píka’s file ‘proving’ he had worked for British intelligence. Karel Vaš joined the Communist Party at the age of 17 and became a prosecutor and judge after the Communists assumed power in Czechoslovakia in 1948.
The Slovak president, Ivan Gašparovič, visited Prague on Monday. His arrival in the Czech capital came ahead of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia on January 1 1993. Mr. Gašparovič was expected to discuss developments since the split with his Czech counterpart, Václav Klaus, who received the Slovak head of state at Prague Castle. The two presidents agreed there were no painful or unresolved issues between the two states. Mr. Klaus is to visit Bratislava in February, a month before he steps down as Czech president.
City councillors are to decide on the future of 10 million crowns as well as around 50 million crowns worth of property left to Prague Zoo by 81-year-old Stanislav Rákos, who died in September. The zoo would like to use the cash funds donated to build a new pavilion for large parrots (birds the late donor loved). City councillor Helena Chudomelová told the Czech news agency she saw no reason why the donation should not be approved, saying such gestures were once in a lifetime.
Twelve people, including three civil servants in the department of transport at the town hall in Kolín, central Bohemia, were arrested last week on suspicion of having legalised, on at least 44 counts, vehicles or parts from cars, stolen in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Two of the three civil servants have been remanded in custody. The police believe the system was facilitated by the three at city hall, in return for bribes. Those arrested, if found guilty, could face up to 10 years in prison. The police say the ring of suspects could still be broadened.
Czech president Václav Klaus said on Monday that the Czech absence in Oslo at the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU was “not worth discussion”, saying if the media hadn’t drawn attention “nobody in Oslo would have noticed”. The European Union, as a body, was awarded the peace prize this year, a move that the Czech Republic’s euro sceptic president called a tragic mistake. Three top EU representatives, President Herman van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Oslo accepted the award on behalf of the EU. Representatives of a majority of member states also attended. Mr Klaus has maintained that the award makes sense when given to a person - not to an institution.
The district court in Zlín on Monday extended an earlier decision remanding three main suspects in the ‘Methanol Affair’ in custody. Two of the men - Rudolf Fian and accomplice Tomáš Křepela – are suspected of having concocted the deadly mix of enthanol and methyl alcohol that led to an outbreak of poisioning across the Czech Republic in mid-September. The third man, Jiří Vacula, was allegedly involved in passing the tainted product on to other distributors. The Zlín state prosecutor explained that if the suspects were released there was danger they could try and evade justice. The trio face between 12 to 20 years behind bars if found guilty. Thirty-eight people died of poisoning after the outbreak; the authorities have issued warnings ahead of the holiday season asking consumers not to drink any hard liquor of unknown origin ie. not containing new excise stamps. It is thought that some 5,000 litres of poisoned alcohol may still be in circulation on store shelves or in households.
Organisers have confirmed that British rock musician Peter Gabriel will perform in Prague next October. The musician is going on tour performing material in its entirety from his acclaimed album So – 25 years after the original record was released. Petr Novák of Live Nation, organising the Prague concert, said tickets for the show will go on sale on December 13th, ranging in price from 1,090 to 1990 crowns. Peter Gabriel’s solo career began after he departed from Genesis; other highly-regarded albums include 1980’s Melt and 1982’s Security, which featured the hit song Shock the Monkey.
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
“There is good, better and then there is the USSR.” – New book depicts life in communist Czechoslovakia through memories of people who experienced it
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Minister: Czech Republic won’t take in 40 child refugees from Greek camps
Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events