A former general director of Czech Radio, Václav Kasík, has died at the age of 65. After first working at what was then Czechoslovak Radio as a freelancer in the 1980s, Mr. Kasík headed the station from 1999 to 2009, when he was dismissed, partly in connection with a renovation of its main building on Prague’s Vinohradská St that was over-budget. Originally a musician, he was named director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2010, a position he only held for three months.
The Dalai Lama is set to attend a Forum 2000 conference in Prague next September, the organisers have announced. The last time the Tibetan spiritual leader was in the Czech capital was in December 2011, when he held a meeting with the former president, Václav Havel, shortly before his death. The two had been friends and Mr. Havel frequently invited the Dalai Lama to Prague. Forum 2000, which was founded by Mr. Havel and others, brings together leading international thinkers for a series of debates. Next year’s edition will be the 17th.
Joan Baez sang at an outdoor memorial to Václav Havel at Prague Castle on Tuesday evening, in one of a series of events commemorating the first anniversary of the late president’s death. The US folk musician, who had appeared with Mr. Havel in the Czech capital on the 20th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution, led a sing-along of We Shall Overcome. Baez had previously been in Prague three months ago to take part in the ceremonial launch of Forum 2000; her programme this time around includes event linked to the launch of a Czech-language version of her memoirs.
The Prague High Court has sentenced Civic Democrat MP Roman Pekárek to five years in prison for bribery and abuse of office. As deputy mayor of Kolín, central Bohemia, Pekárek allegedly received a one million crown bribe for selling municipal land to a businessman under price. While the price was officially set at 41 million crowns, Pekárek pushed through a 15 million crown deal, arguing that the value of the land substantially decreased due to the economic crisis. Pekárek received a six year sentence from a lower court in May, but he appealed the verdict. The verdict of the Prague High Court is definitive.
Coalition and opposition politicians have called on MP Roman Pekárek to vacate his seat in the lower house without delay. Under Czech law an MP cannot be forced to do so under any circumstances. The case has renewed debate on a proposal to amend the law so that an MP would automatically lose his mandate if found guilty of a crime. Deputy Pekárek’s continued presence in the lower house would not only be a public disgrace but the governing coalition could lose its fragile majority in the lower chamber. Roman Pekárek has refused to say what his intention is.
Events have been held around the country in remembrance of the late president Vaclav Havel on the first anniversary of his death. A mass is to be celebrated in memory of the country’s first post-communist president in the Church of Our Lady before Týn and around 300 people joined a commemorative procession through the city centre on Tuesday. People have been lighting candles in places associated with the late president and in the Moravian metropolis Brno members of the public attended the unveiling of a wax heart made of the thousands of candles lit in the wake of Václav Havel’s death a year ago. A requiem mass celebrated by Cardinal Dominik Duka was held at the Church of St. Anne on the eve of the anniversary and broadcast live by Czech Television.
The speaker of the Senate, Milan Štěch, has criticized what he called “the poor level of communication” between the coalition and opposition parties. Addressing the upper house on occasion of the 16th anniversary of its founding Mr. Štech said that the lack of communication not just with the lower chamber by also with government ministers contributed to the public’s flagging trust in political institutions. The Social Democrat senator said that in the past 16 years the upper chamber had justified its existence in reviewing proposed legislation and noted that the government proposed reforms would be more widely accepted by the public if criticism and recommendations from the Senate were given greater consideration instead of just being overruled by a majority vote in the lower house.
The police have uncovered the biggest storage of bootleg liquor in the country’s history. According to a police statement a raid on a former construction warehouse revealed 1.2 million liters of illegal spirits. The state would have lost 330 million crowns in tax revenues. The police have detained several people for questioning.
The Czech army chief-of-staff, Petr Pavel, on Tuesday decorated six soldiers who served on observer missions in the Congo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Egyptian-Israeli border zone. General Petr Pavel thanked them for the courage and dedication with which they served their countries noting that while observer missions were not generally perceived as dangerous they could be extremely challenging with international observers coming under rebel attacks and falling prey to diseases such malaria.
Marek Benda will replace Zbynek Stanjura as head of the Civic Democrats’ deputies group in the lower house of Parliament. The forty-four-year-old Benda was nominated for the post by the party’s leadership and received 33 out of 44 votes in a secret ballot. Jan Bureš is to serve as his deputy. Zbynek Stanjura left the post after being appointed transport minister last week. The Civic Democrats’ deputies group currently has 49 members.