Russian orthodox priest Sergei Baranov who stood up in defence of the punk band Pussy Riot has been granted asylum in the Czech Republic. The cleric told the daily Právo he received political asylum from the Czech Interior Ministry last month. Sergei Baranov said he found himself under pressure from Russian intelligence services when he protested against the trial with members of the band. In the interview, the priest expressed gratitude to the Czech authorities and said he was planning to convert to the Greek Catholic Church and establish a monastery in the Czech Republic.
On the second day of his official visit to Poland, Czech President Miloš Zeman proposed to merge the Prague and Warsaw stock exchanges. Speaking at a Polish-Czech business forum in the Polish capital, Mr Zeman said the merger would establish a strong, Warsaw-based central European exchange that would better compete with other exchanges. The head of the Prague exchange, Petr Kobliha, said negotiations had been underway for several months to connect the region’s various exchanges.
President Miloš Zeman on Friday proposed the chief justice of the Czech Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, for another 10-year term. The president last week nominated another three judges for the top court: Supreme Administrative Court judge Kateřina Šimáčková, Supreme Court judge Ludvík David and Constitutional Court justice Miloslav Výborný. The Czech Senate is set to vote on the nominations by the end of next month. In April, President Zeman appointed three judges to the Constitutional Court which was facing paralysis as the mandates of seven of its 15 judges expire this year.
Prague councillors for the TOP 09 party continue to implement changes at
City Hall following Thursday’s break-up of the coalition and the
dismissal of Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda. On Friday, the council dismissed
Democrat members from the supervisory boards of Prague’s transport
authority and the Municipal House; TOP 09 also took over some
responsibilities previously held by Civic Democrat councillors, such as
completion of the multi-billion Blanka tunnel complex and a planned
acquisition of a stake in the city’s service firm.
The coalition of TOP 09 and Civic Democrats collapsed this week in what observers see as a major feud of the two right-of-centre parties for the same electorate in the capital and beyond.
Czech recipients of EU subsidies have secured some 425 billion crowns which represents over 53 percent of the funds earmarked for the Czech Republic in the period between 2007 and 2013, the Czech Regional Development Ministry said on Friday. Czech authorities have approved EU funding for more than 41,000 projects worth around 666 billion crowns; if passed by the European Commission, the Czech Republic will receive some 83 percent of the earmarked funds.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was spotted during his visit to the Czech capital on Thuirsday. A photo showing Mr Zuckerberg and his wife was posted on Twitter by a man who noticed the couple taking a stroll through Prague’s Malá strana district near Charles Bridge. Czech media reported Mark Zuckerberg arrived in Prague from Poland where he met with government officials. The Czech minister of industry and trade, who is in charge of technological innovations, said no meeting with the Facebook founder had been planned.
Czech javelin champion Barbora Špotáková has given birth to a son. The baby boy, Špotáková’s first child, was born in Prague on Friday morning, and has been named Janek. The 31-year-old two-time Olympic winner said she was very happy and felt a mix of euphoria and responsibility. The boy will bear the surname of his father, Lukáš Novotný. Barbora Špotáková is planning to return to athletics in October to prepare for the European Championships 2014.
Czech football club Baník Ostrava on Friday received a licence to play in the country’s top division next season. The Czech Football Association initially denied Baník the licence over the club’s economic problems. Earlier this week, however, Ostrava City Hall approved the acquisition of the club’s stadium, allowing Baník to settle parts of their debts amounting to around 170 million crowns. Baník Ostrava are yet to avoid relegation to second division; with two rounds to go in the Gambrinus liga, Baník are on 12th place, four points away from relegation.
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.
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