A group of 25 MEPs on Wednesday called on top Czech officials to take
action against the destabilization of the country’s Institute for the
Study of Totalitarian Regimes, the news agency ČTK said. In a letter to
the Czech president, prime minister and the head of the Senate, the
deputies expressed their concern over the recent replacement of the
institute’s director, which could lead to the closing down of the
government-sponsored institute, the MEPs said.
Earlier this month, the institute’s overseeing board dismissed its director, Daniel Herman. Critics believe the move was politically motivated by the opposition which wants to change the discourse of the country’s communist past.
A court in Prague on Wednesday sentenced a 31-year-old man to 8.5 years in prison for setting a high-rise apartment building on fire. The court said that in February 2012, the man set fire to the door of an apartment where his ex-girlfriend was staying with three children. The fire destroyed the flat; the woman with the children was rescued by fire fighters while 25 inhabitants of the building were also evacuated.
A new book about the Czech film magnate Miloš Havel, the uncle of Václav Havel, was presented at Prague’s Lucerna on Monday evening. Throughout the day, films from the interwar years and the period of the Nazi occupation produced by Miloš Havel, founder of the Barrandov film studios, were screened at the cinema in the Lucerna Palace; it was built by Vácslav Havel, the grandfather of playwright Václav Havel. Miloš Havel – Czech Film Magnate is written by journalist Krystyna Wanatowiczová.
President Miloš Zeman began his two-day visit to
Austria by meeting with the country’s President Heinz Fischer in
Vienna’s Hofburg Palace on Tuesday. The two leaders discussed nuclear
energy safety – an issue that has always been a divisive one for the
neighboring countries – and specifically the expansion of the nuclear
power plant Temelín.
Later, in an interview with the Austrian news agency APA, the Czech president insinuated that the majority of ethnic Germans in Sudetenland supported and collaborated with the Nazi regime during World War Two, and that many of them could have faced much worse punishment than expulsion.
The ground shook a number of times in the west Bohemian Cheb region throughout Tuesday, with the strongest tremors registering at 2.5 on the Richter scale during the night. Experts believe that the seismic activity may continue and get stronger. The last time this area experienced seismic activity was in 2011.
The Czech government will give four million crowns (about 200,000 US dollars) to the people of the town of West in Texas, where fourteen people died and dozens of houses were destroyed as a result of an explosion last week. The Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg made the announcement in Brussels on Tuesday, saying that most of the money will be used to rebuild the Sokol building in the town, where three-quarters of inhabitants are of Czech descent.
During the first day of his visit to Austria, President Zeman said that if an agreement will not be reached with Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg over ambassadorial appointments, he is willing to ask the prime minister to confirm his candidates. Mr Schwarzenberg responded that if Prime Minister Petr Nečas were indeed to confirm the president’s chosen candidates instead of the ones he has put forward, his TOP 09 party would leave the governing coalition. The premier dismissed the foreign minister’s threats saying that he is planning to keep to constitutional tradition that says ambassadors are nominated by the foreign minister and subsequently approved by the government and then the president. He added that the weeks-long spat between the president and the foreign minister is hurting the reputation of the Czech Republic.
The Dietrichstein palace in Brno is hosting an exhibit of the remains and reconstructions of the village of Bystřec in South Moravia, which is the best preserved medieval village in the Czech Republic. The village was burned in 1401 and remained covered by topsoil for 600 years, until it was uncovered by archeologists 30 years ago. This is the first exhibit that shows objects found at the site, and includes reconstructions of village life.
Some employee unions at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes have announced that they are ready to strike in response to the personnel changes carried out by the new head of the institute Pavla Foglová. The unions said they are afraid of employee purges and are ready to defend the social and economic rights of their members. Not all of the unions at the institute, though, see Ms. Foglová’s actions as problematic.
The Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has filed extraordinary appeals to reopen seven cases that were closed as a result of the New Year’s presidential amnesty. Mr. Zeman is focusing particularly on the cases involving companies Progres Invest and H-System accused of fraud, as well as those of fugitive defendants like Milan Šenfeld, Jiří Štěpánek and Martin Bajger. All of these cases were closed in January, since the amnesty announced by former president Václav Klaus applied to cases that were open for longer than eight years.
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