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.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas paid an unexpected visit to Czech troops in
Afghanistan over the weekend. According to the information released to the
media on Sunday, the prime minister met with Afghanistan’s president
Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Saturday and visited the Czech army bases in the
Logar and Vardak provinces the following day. According to Mr Nečas, the
two leaders spoke about Afghanistan’s interest in the Czech-made L-159
light combat aircraft, as well as cooperation in industrial development,
transportation and education.
The Czech prime minister assured his host that Czech troops are willing to continue training Afghan soldiers even after 2014, when the International Security Assistance Force mission will end. The Czech side is hoping to secure business contracts in Afghanistan, for example in the area of transportation infrastructure. The Afghan president welcomed these plans and expressed his hope to begin working on specific projects in the near future, according to the Czech News Agency.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the Czech News Agency on Sunday that the dispute over new Czech ambassadors is actually at the core of who will control Czech foreign policy. The minister is set to meet President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday to discuss their disagreement over the naming of new ambassadors to Slovakia and Russia. A few weeks ago, President Zeman nominated his predecessor’s wife Livia Klausová to the post in Bratislava, and the MEP for the Communist Party Vladimír Remek to the one in Moscow. Mr Schwarzenberg disagreed with both choices and emphasized that it is in the competencies of the foreign minister to nominated ambassadors, while the president traditionally only signs the subsequent approval of the government.