All remaining members of the Academic Council serving the country’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes resigned on Monday. Members of the 15-person council began stepping down last week, primarily in protest over the sacking of the institute’s head Daniel Herman. Critics charged the firing was politically-motivated and an attempt by the opposition to gain control at the institute. The first to step down last week was the council’s chairman, Michael Kraus. Others who followed include Igor Lukeš, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, Alena Šimánková of the National Archive, and Harvard University’s Mark Kramer. Respected military historian Eduard Stehlík, first deputy to Daniel Herman, meanwhile, failed to reach agreement with the new head, Pavla Foglová, and also resigned from his post.
In related news, Prime Minister Petr Nečas described the situation at the institute as “scandalous”. The prime minister claimed recent developments were an effort by the opposition to control information in the Security Services Archive (ABS). The prime minister suggested material in the archives could threaten alleged future cooperation between the opposition Social Democrats and the Communist Party, if the Social Democrats win the next election and end up forming the next government. Opinion polls have suggested the Social Democrats will win next year by a fair margin.
The Council of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes denied on Monday that politics had any role in the recent sacking of Daniel Herman as head of the institute. Council chairwoman Petruška Šustrová said his firing had come not at the order of any political party but stressed that the council had not been satisfied with Mr Herman’s work. She added that the situation was currently being politicized by politicians and the media, and expressed surprise over how the situation had escalated. The head of the confederation of political prisoners, Nadězda Kavalírová (a member of the council who opposed Mr Herman’s firing) maintained the opposite: that the council was acting politically, ČTK reported.
The Supreme Audit Office announced on Monday that it found a number of problems in the finances of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute between the years 2009 to 2011. In 2010, the institute provided lower annual budget figures while in the following year it overshot by more than a million crowns. The biggest problems (for which the Hydrometeorological Institute may have to pay a penalty) concerned property records and accounting.
President Miloš Zeman, his wife Ivana and their daughter Kateřina are preparing to move into the Lumbe villa, located near Prague Castle, in May. The building is the former residence of ex-president Václav Klaus and former first lady Livie Klausová. Mr Zeman’s spokeswoman Hana Buriánová said the Zemans will have 200 square metres in the villa, adding that the interiors had been newly re-painted. The Lumbe villa dates back to the mid-19th century; it was once home to the painter Miloš Jiránek.
Customs officers at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport caught a passenger from Sao Paolo last Thursday trying to smuggle in a package containing more than one kilo of cocaine. The spokesman for the Customs Office at Ruzyně, Pavel Drobek, revealed information about the arrest on the office’s website on Monday. A single gram in the Czech Republic can sell for as much as 2000 crowns, meaning the estimated street value of the package was around 2.3 million crowns.
Prague police officers are searching for a man who – posing as a buyer last July – successfully stole diamonds worth 200 million crowns. Police spokesman Jan Daněk said that the man, who was recorded on a security camera at a Prague store, took advantage of a moment when he wasn’t being watched and switched real diamonds on sale for zircon replicas. The suspect spoke Russian, identified himself as Konstantin Lebekin, and is thought to be either from a former Soviet bloc country or the Balkans.
Plzeň on Sunday won at home to square their best-of-seven series in the final of the Czech play-offs against Zlín at two apiece. Plzeň came into Sunday’s match needing to rebound from a loss a day earlier and were helped by two goals just 30 or so seconds apart in the first period. The club went on to take the game 5:2. Game 5 will be played in Zlín on Wednesday.
Defending FA Cup champions Chelsea – with goalie Petr Čech – were knocked out of the completion on Sunday in their semi-final against Manchester City. Chelsea, who trailed by two early in the second half, managed to pull within one but had a penalty denied (shirt-pulling on Torres when moved into the area). Petr Čech and Chelsea won the FA Cup four times in the last six years.