Jailed Belarusian human rights’ activist Ales Bialiatski is historically the first winner of the Vaclav Havel human rights prize, the Council of Europe announced on Monday. The prize is awarded jointly by Parliamentary Committee of the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation. Ales Bialiatski who heads the Minsk-based Viasna Human Rights Centre was selected out of 27 candidates for his tireless efforts in defending human rights in Belarus. He is currently serving a 4.5 year prison sentence for alleged tax evasion.
The Czech Republic has officially proposed deploying troops as UN peacekeepers in the disputed Golan Heights. According to Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek the country could send some 150 soldiers whenever needed, but the nearest term is in 2015. The UN has meanwhile expressed interest in deploying Czech helicopters in its peace missions in Sudan and Mali. The deployment of Czech troops would have to be approved by the country’s new Parliament which will emerge from October’s general elections.
The Czech Republic's foreign debt grew by 45.3 billion crowns to over 2,02 billion in the second quarter of this year, accounting for 53.1 percent of gross domestic product, the Czech National Bank said on Monday. Year on year, the foreign debt was 97.5 billion crowns higher. Foreign liabilities with an original maturity of more than one year accounted for 74.6 percent of debt liabilities. External liabilities of the corporate sector accounted for 48.7 percent of the total external debt. The private sector is responsible for 46.1 percent of the long-term external debt, while public sector liabilities account for the rest.
The Supreme Audit Office says it has found irregularities in the financing of the Road and Motorway Directorate. The institution apparently violated the law on public tenders by splitting a large tender into seven smaller ones and spent a disproportionate amount of money on lawyers’ services. In the course of the last 3 years the Directorate paid 360 million crowns for lawyers and in some cases the services provided did not correspond to the agreements signed. The Supreme Audit Office also says the RMD allowed employees to use company cars for their own private use.
The two strongest parties of the former centre-right government coalition have lost approximately one million voters since the last general elections in 2010, according to a comparative analysis of opinion surveys conducted by the Factum Invenio polling agency. According to the results half a million former Civic Democrat voters have changed allegiance in favour of Andrej Babis’ ANO 2011 party and others will vote instead for the Christian Democrats and Tomio Okamura’s Dawn of Direct Democracy. TOP 09 stands to lose around 240,000 former supporters in favour of left-wing parties, due to dissatisfaction with the former government’s austerity measures.
The Civic Democratic Party’s election leader Miroslava Nemcova, has ruled out a coalition with four parties which she described as “undemocratic”. They are tycoon Andrej Babis’s ANO party, Tomio Okamura’s Dawn of Direct Democracy, the Euro-skeptic Chin Up and the Citizens’ Rights Party – Zemanites. Mrs. Nemcova said the Civic Democratic Party would not repeat the mistake it made in 2010 when it entered into a coalition with then newcomer Public Affairs.
Monday is the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Munich Agreement allowing the Nazis to annex Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland, border areas chiefly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The deal was agreed on September 29 1938 but actually signed in the early hours of September 30 by the leaders of the UK, France, Germany and Italy. Czechoslovakia was not represented at the talks and considered the deal a betrayal on the part of its nominal allies the UK and France. Six months later the Nazis took over the whole of Bohemia and Moravia.
Czechs will be able to test their English language skills at language schools around the country from November 25-30.The event, organized by the Association of Foreign Language Schools and the national centre Europass is intended to raise interest in learning foreign languages and mapping Czechs’ foreign language skills. The comprehension test will also be available online. According to the results of a Eurobarometer study 49 percent of Czechs speak one foreign language, as compared to the EU average of 54 percent.
A 34-year-old postal service worker in the Brno area has been charged with fraud. The woman allegedly abused the trust of senior citizens, signed their pension slips and took their money. In order to deflate suspicion she originally covered her own needs from their pensions and paid them back later when she received her own salary, but later claimed the money had simply not arrived. If convicted she could face up to two years in jail.
The Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitová has risen to seventh in tennis’s world rankings after winning the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo at the weekend. Her return to the top 10 after a three-week absence boosts her chances of reaching the prestigious season-ending World Tour Finals, which features the top eight players. Tomáš Berdych, meanwhile, has climbed to fifth in the men’s rankings after reaching the final of the Thailand Open in Bangkok.