Petr Hájek, former vice chancellor to the president, will launch a new internet journal with the slogan of “counterrevolutionary magazine” linked to Parlamentnílisty.cz, the news site reports. Mr Hájek served at Prague Castle under former president Václav Klaus. Hájek, a controversial figure at Prague Castle for years, called the late Václav Havel a “servant of Satan” in a book published last year and in the past questioned, conspiracy-style, the truth of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting they could have been orchestrated by the US secret service.
The long-running Febiofest film festival has changed owners, the news website idnes reports. According to the site, founder Fero Fenič sold the ownership rights to the Prague International Film Festival for the sum of 25 million crowns, to be paid over five years. Mr Fenič is to stay on as the festival’s president. The company behind the Prague International Film Festival was founded last year by Mr Fenič along with partners and financial investors. Kamil Spáčil, the former head of Barrandov TV, will be the festival’s new director. Febiofest was founded back in 1993; in 2011 it generated profits of 1.1 million crowns, a year after suffering losses of 4.5 million, idnes writes.
Part of a motorcycle production plant in Týnec nad Sázavou was damaged by a fire that broke out on Friday evening. According to reports, a warehouse as well as a building condemned to be demolished were damaged. Damage at the Jawa factory has been estimated at around 600,000 crowns. Fire fighters have suggested that the fire was set intentionally.
Miloš Zeman has been sworn in as Czech president in a ceremony at the
Vladislav Hall at Prague Castle. Mr. Zeman is the first directly-elected
head of state in the history of the Czech Republic. After his swearing-in
at a joint session of both chambers of Parliament, the new president
inspected a military parade and attended a brief service in honour of St.
Wenceslas, before having lunch with senior state officials. He was forced
to sign the oath a second time, after the first copy was found to contain
Mr. Zeman, who is 68, has been one of the dominant figures in Czech politics since the fall of Communism. After turning the Social Democrats into a major party in the 1990s, he served as prime minister between 1998 and 2002.
In his inauguration speech, Miloš Zeman repeated a previously expressed intention to represent the “lower 10 million”, meaning all but the country’s elite. Mr. Zeman said his office would serve as a neutral space for dialogue between the parties in parliament, but also other significant organisations, adding that he wished to serve as a mediator, not a judge. He also pledged to fight the mafia, neo-Nazis and sections of the media, which he accused of brain-washing the public.
There has been a mixed reaction from Czech politicians to the president’s inauguration speech. The minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek of TOP 09, said he was disappointed that the new head of state had made no reference to foreign policy and in particular to the European Union. The Civic Democrats’ Jaroslav Kubera said the president was the only politician who could afford to speak about the media in such a way, while his party colleague Jiří Pospíšil said that while he had not welcomed Mr. Zeman’s attack on the media, he appreciated his promise to serve as a moderator between the political parties. The latter view was also endorsed by Michal Babák of Public Affairs.
Mr. Zeman succeeds Václav Klaus, whose second consecutive five-year term came to an end on Thursday. At midnight, the president’s standard was removed from Prague Castle, the bells of St. Vitus Cathedral were rung and the Castle Guard performed the Czech national anthem. Earlier, Mr. Klaus had said, in his final address to the nation on Czech Television, that he did not plan to be a mere observer of goings on in the country. His presidential career ended on something of a low note, with a marked fall in his popularity ratings following the declaration of a controversial amnesty. A number of rock concerts and other events were held to celebrate his departure.
Prague’s National Museum will this weekend exhibit the diplomas of Czechoslovakia’s first three presidents, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Edvard Beneš and Emil Hácha. The historical parchment documents – which officially informed each president of his election – will be on show on Saturday and Sunday at the usually inaccessible Presidential Salon at the museum’s Vítkov National Memorial building.