The 65th anniversary of the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia is being marked on Monday by both communists and their opponents. The deputy chairman of the Czech Senate, Přemysl Sobotka, attended a gathering commemorating an anti-communist student march in 1948 which was violently dispersed by communist-run police. Current university students and faculty as well as former students who took part in the march 65 years ago took part in the ceremony on Nerudová street in Prague. Members and supporters of the Communist Party met at the grave of Klement Gottwald, the leader of the 1948 coup and later the country’s first communist president, to honor his memory. Also, hundreds of people attended an anti-communist rally at Prague’s Old Town Square on Monday evening.
The oldest gorilla living in the Prague zoo survived serious complications during childbirth on Sunday, although the baby did not survive. The 40-year-old Kamba had already had a complicated birth six years ago, when her life was in danger and the baby also did not survive. A team of veterinarians and human doctors were on-call around the clock for the past two months, since the childbirth was expected to be complicated and potentially dangerous to Kamba’s health.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has begun a five-week tour of the Czech Republic, amid increasing anti-government sentiments and unrest inside his own Civic Democratic Party. Last week, Mr Nečas met with representatives of the Civic Democrats in the town of Nymburk and the West Bohemian city of Plzeň. Although a party spokesman said that the visits are standard procedure, the Czech media is characterizing this as a response to the criticism of the government and Civic Democratic leadership. Regional party representatives have complained about Prague’s lack of communication and transparent strategy.
The Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office has asked the justice minister to temporarily suspend Prague 2 prosecutor František Fiala, one of the accused in the corruption scandal that broke last week. Mr Fiala is one of six people who were charged on Friday with bribery, fraud, blackmail, and abuse of authority. He and a Prague 2 district judge Ondřej Havlín reportedly confessed to criminal activity during police questioning. Judge Havlín remains in police custody, while the other five suspects have been released.
Two more imported products have been found to contain horsemeat instead of the listed beef and pork. DNA tests showed that Swedish meatballs slated for the Brno IKEA store and one brand of hamburgers produced in Poland were made from horsemeat. More than one ton of the products was confiscated. Last week, horsemeat was found in frozen lasagna that was produced in Luxembourg.
The famous singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen will appear at Prague’s O2 arena on 21 July as part of his 2013 Old Ideas World Tour. Sazka will be selling the tickets for the concert starting on 1 March. The singer’s latest album was at the top of the Czech charts last year. His last live concert in Prague was in 2009, which was attended by thousands of fans.
Chairman of the TOP 09 party, Karel Schwarzenberg, criticized Czech politicians who came to power after 1989 for allowing the influence of the Communist Party to grow, at a conference entitled Communism Yesterday and Today. The Foreign Minister said that the Communist Party is preparing to potentially be part of the government after the 2014 elections, a situation that was aided by the conduct of the Social Democratic party and the next Czech president Miloš Zeman. TOP 09 senator Jaromír Štětina said that he is planning to once again ask the current government to request the Supreme Court to suspend or dissolve the Communist Party.
Overall confidence in the Czech economy improved significantly in February, with the composite confidence indicator going up to -2.6, from -4.2 in January, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Monday. The consumer confidence indicator went up to -22.3 this month from -27.8 in January, while the indicator of confidence among entrepreneurs increased to -8, from -10.7 the previous month. The economic confidence in the construction sector, though, dropped to -49 this month from -45.5, amid fears of further job cuts and stagnation in the industry.
The annual Mene Tekel festival began in Prague on Monday. In its seventh year, the festival commemorates political prisoners from the 1950’s and points to the dangers of totalitarian regimes. Mene Tekel is comprised of a number of exhibits, film screenings, discussions and meetings with former dissidents and prominent figures. One of the exhibits, entitled Letters from Siberia Written on Birch Bark, chronicles the tragic moments of Latvian history in the 20th Century.
The Office for the Protection of Competition has revoked a contract between the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry and the company Fujitsu Technology Solutions, according to the internet news server Novinky.cz. Former Labor Minister Jaromír Drábek gave the contract for the provision of software for labor offices to the IT firm without issuing a public tender. The ministry will have to launch a new public tender, worth roughly a billion crowns, or return to the previous software provider.
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