The freshly installed minister of defence, Karolína Peake, says Prime Minister Petr Nečas reacted angrily to her dismissal of a number of senior Defence Ministry officials. Minister Peake told Czech Television that Mr. Nečas, who was in Brussels, had raised his voice during a phone conversation on Thursday. For his part, Mr. Nečas said she had no place making public their conversation. Among those the minister removed on her first full day in office was her first deputy, General Vlastimil Picek, a former chief of staff of the Czech Army. She said she believed top positions at the ministry should be filled by civilians. On Friday the opposition Social Democrats called for her resignation in a lower house debate.
The nine candidates standing in the Czech Republic’s first direct presidential elections have received their ballot numbers, following a draw by the State Election Commission on Friday. The vote will be held on the second and third weekends of January, with the two candidates who receive the most votes in the first round facing each other in the second. An opinion poll released on Thursday by the PPF Faktum agency suggested the front runner was Miloš Zeman, a former prime minister.
The speaker of the Czech lower house, Miroslava Němcová, has proposed what is known as a state of legislative emergency, in a bid to push through certain pieces of legislation by the end of the year. If approved by the relevant committees, the mechanism will allow one bill on judges’ salaries and another on the sKarta social welfare payment system to be passed in a single reading. It was last employed two years ago to push through a raft of cost-cutting measures.
A paltry 6 percent of Czechs think their country is “going in the right direction”, suggests a poll published on Friday by the STEM agency. Fifty-seven percent of respondents in the survey said they felt the Czech Republic was going in the wrong direction, while 37 percent said it was not going in any direction. Two years ago a poll indicated that a third of the population thought the country was going in the right direction; the authors of the latest survey said the increased negative outlook was down to people’s strong disillusionment with conflicts in the government, corruption cases and fears of recession.
Prague councillors have rejected a call to end the sprinkling of salt on the capital’s pavements to keep them safe for pedestrians in freezing weather, saying it was the most cost-effective approach. However, they said salting the streets would only take place when conditions were particularly bad. A petition organised by the Green Party and an animal welfare group calling for the cessation of the practise was signed by over 1,000 people; they said it harmed dogs’ feet and destroyed building foundations and people’s shoes. Salting the streets was banned for many years but reintroduced at the start of 2012.
A fifth of Czechs drank spirits during a two-week ban on the sale of hard alcohol in September, according to a survey conducted by the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and a polling agency. Less than a third of regular drinkers of spirits refrained from consuming them during the ban, which was imposed following a wave of deaths caused by counterfeit liquors containing poisonous methanol. To date 38 people have died from drinking such bootleg spirits.
The captain of Viktoria Plzeň, Pavel Horvath, has been named in the team of the group stage of the Europa League. The midfielder, who is 37, is the oldest player to score in European soccer’s second-tier competition. The former Czech international finds himself alongside the likes of Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Napoli striker Edinson Cavani in the all-star 11.
Simona Baumrtová took bronze in the 100m backstroke at the World Swimming Championships in the Turkish capital Istanbul on Thursday, securing the Czech Republic’s first medal in the competition in nine years. The 21-year-old beat her own Czech record to come third in a time of 57:08 seconds. Last month she became the first Czech swimmer to bring home four medals from a single competition, the European Short Course Championship in France’s Chartres.
The newly appointed Defense Minister Karolína Peake (LIDEM) announced a number of personnel changes at the ministry on Thursday after officially taking up the post the day before. Ms Peake dismissed the first deputy defense minister, General Vlastimil Picek, the armaments director Pavel Bulant and an advisor. The new defense minister said that she has offered Mr Picek another position at the ministry, but added that she believes that top positions at the defense ministry should be occupied by civilians. Shadow Defense Minister Social Democrat Jan Hamáček criticized Peake for making major changes after announcing on Wednesday that she will not do so.
The Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Thursday that the Interior Ministry should register Jana Bobošíková as a presidential candidate, after the ministry rejected her application earlier citing an inadequate number of verifiable signatures. The court rejected the appeals of Tomio Okamura and Vladimír Dlouhý whose applications for candidacy were also previously rejected. There are now nine candidates who will be vying for the presidential post in the January elections.