The right-of-centre coalition at Prague City Hall has collapsed and after two decades in office the Civic Democrats have been forced into the opposition. City hall representatives on Thursday recalled Civic Democrat mayor Bohuslav Svoboda and two Civic Democrat councilors responsible for transport and property management. The move came three days after TOP 09 withdrew from its coalition with the Civic Democrats and demanded the lion’s share of powers in local government. The Civic Democrats were recalled with support from the opposition Social Democrats and the Communists. TOP 09, which has a majority in the Prague assembly of representatives is to hold talks with the Social Democrats on Prague’s future administration.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the leader of the Civic Democratic Party, has slammed TOP 09 for triggering the power play at Prague City Hall, saying it was a regrettable move that revealed the party’s growing ambitions. Prime Minister Nečas said the ousting of the Civic Democrats from power at Prague City Hall had clearly been prepared together with the opposition Social Democrats and the Communists and noted that he could not rule out a similar scenario developing on the national-scale.
TOP 09, which may seek support to maintain a minority administration in Prague, has rejected the accusations that it was jockeying for power on the right ahead of next year’s elections. TOP 09 deputy mayor Tomas Hudecek, who now heads Prague City Hall, said the collapse of the Prague coalition was triggered by internal strife within the Civic Democrats and the party’s refusal to deal with pressing problems. Mr. Hudecek said Prague was sliding deeper into debt and TOP 09 could no longer stand by and accept co-responsibility for the city’s poor management.
The police are investigating the murder of four people in Brno. The suspect is a young American known on social networks as Kevin Dahlgren, who reportedly resides in Brno and had offered his services as an English teacher. His whereabouts are presently unknown. The police have warned the public that he is dangerous and very likely armed. Detectives have asked the public for help in tracing the suspect but have not released any details regarding the possible motive of the crime or the identity of the victims. According to Tyden magazine the victims were an older couple and their two sons, both musicians. The suspect was reportedly a relative who lived with them for close to three weeks.
On a four day visit to the Czech Republic, the head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew I, on Thursday met with Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka and Cardinal Miloslav Vlk to discuss relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the upcoming celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival in Moravia of the Orthodox missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius. In a religious ceremony at the Church of Ss Cyril and Methodius in Prague Patriarch Bartholomew praised Czechs for maintaining the Cyril-Methodius tradition and asked the saints to safeguard the nation in these difficult times.
Czech arms producer Česká zbrojovka has won an international tender for the supply of 50,000 pistols to the Egyptian interior ministry, the company’s CEO Lubomír Kovařík told the CTK news agency on Thursday. The one-year contract is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of crowns. The CZ P-07 duty pistols commissioned are smaller than those supplied by Česká zbrojovka to the Czech military and security forces. The company is seeking to clinch a similar deal with Iraq. Česká zbrojovka is one of the country’s major arms producers, its annual sales having topped two billion crowns in recent years.
Some 200 young people staged a protest happening outside Prague Castle in defense of academic freedoms on Thursday in the wake of a scandal over the president’s refusal to name a respected Catholic intellectual professor. Although the President Zeman backed down on Wednesday, signing Mr. Putna’s decree, and saying he no longer wanted the prerogative to appoint professors, there is still simmering anger over the incident among students who feel that academic freedoms have been violated and fear they may be again at any time in the future. Meanwhile, rectors are not happy with the proposal that in future professorial decrees would be signed by the education minister, saying that the president’s signature gave the decree greater weight and reflected the high esteem associated with the title.
Gumball 3000 is due to sweep through the eastern part of the Czech Republic on Thursday evening passing through Ostrava, Olomouc, Brno and Mikulov, on its way to Austria. The first cars crossed the Czech-Polish border at around 5 pm and the last should leave Czech territory at around midnight. Police are out in force for the event saying that they are prepared to use the right to detain participants for up to 48 hours in case of serious violations of the road law.
An exhibition of Marilyn Monroe imagery and memorabilia to commemorate the sex-symbol of the 1950s will open at Prague Castle as planned despite the fact that some of the items were stolen during their transport to Prague, organizers said on Thursday. The theft of a truck carrying part of the memorabilia to be put on display made news headlines on Wednesday raising questions as to whether the exhibition would take place. The Armentano company and the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum which are loaning the artefacts said the lost items could be replaced in time. Among the artefacts to be put on display are film costumes, personal belongings, unpublished photographs and excerpts from the actress’s diary. The exhibition will open next Saturday and run until mid-September.
Viktoria Plzeň have pulled five points clear in the race for the Czech soccer championship with only two rounds remaining. The West Bohemian side gained the advantage when they beat Olomouc 1:0 away on Wednesday night and their closest rivals Sparta Prague lost 2:3 to Brno in the Moravian capital. Plzeň were crowned champions for the first time in their history two years ago.