The civic association Dekomunizace hung black paper cut-outs of human bodies from lamp posts, bridges and buildings in Prague, Hradec Králové and Jihlava on Tuesday morning to warn of the growing influence of the Communist party on Czech politics. The cut-outs, which look like hanged bodies, have the words ‘Went against the Communist Party’ written on them and are meant to symbolize more than 250 people who were executed for political reasons in communist Czechoslovakia. The association is worried that after this weekend’s elections the Communist party will play an even greater role in Czech politics. Its members are also concerned that the current Communist party has never distanced itself from the actions and crimes committed by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989.
The watchdog organization Acta Non Verba has filed a legal complaint against three government institutions for overspending on IT needs. According to a study the organization carried out together with the Anti-Corruption Fund, the Regional Development Ministry, the Prague City Hall and Office for Government Representation in Property Affairs spend well above average on the information technology needs. By looking into 12 public institutions, the study determined that they spend on average 15,000 crowns per employee per year on purchasing and maintaining information technology, while the Regional Development Ministry had spent on average 215,000 crowns per employee per year and the Prague city hall 167,000 crowns.
The Supreme Court has annulled the amnesty granted to three men accused of fraud and embezzlement in a case surrounding a trading company Monterey Capital. Václav Vojíř, Jan Anděl and Daniel Pajer were accused of embezzling almost 26 million crowns in currency trading deals in the early 2000’s. According to a decision by a Prague court earlier this year, the defendants were eligible for the amnesty announced on new year’s day by then president Václav Klaus because the investigation into the case had gone on for more than eight years without trial. The Supreme State Attorney argued that the investigation only began in 2005, thus making it less than eight years.
Archeologists have been able to reach the underground parts of the synagogue in České Budějovice, 71 years after it was completely destroyed. The synagogue was built in 1888, but was later destroyed by Nazi soldiers during in 1942. Scientists found the remains of the foundation of the enclosing walls as well as small objects, which include pieces of shattered glass and stones.
Greenpeace activists began a protest against the breaking of mining limits on Tuesday morning in front of the National Theater in Prague. They wanted to draw attention to issues concerning coal mining in the Czech Republic before Czechs head to the polls for early general elections on Friday. Signs held up by the activists showed the politicians running in the general elections who support the abolition of limits on coal mining. A few of the protesters attempted to climb up the theater building in order to place their banners there.
For the first time ever, the Confederation of Political Prisoners has not submitted a list of nominees for this year’s state awards, which are traditionally given out by the president on 28 October. The confederation’s vice chairman Leo Žídek said that they have a problem with the fact that President Miloš Zeman has not openly opposed the Communist regime. In the past, both of the previous Czech presidents Václav Havel and Václav Klaus gave state honors to a number of political prisoners of the former regime every year, usually based on the nominations from the confederation.
The police have expanded the charges against the former head of Czech Military Intelligence, Milan Kovanda, in connection with the spying scandal, which brought down the Nečas government. Mr. Kovanda has already been accused of misusing government resources to spy on the then wife of former prime minister Petr Nečas, on the orders of the premier’s chief of staff who was romantically linked with the head of government. The police have now accused Mr. Kovanda of paying a private company to carry out the assignment. Mr. Kovanda came in for another round of questioning with the police on Tuesday morning. Another two former employees of the military intelligence service have also been charged in connection to the case.
The main prize in this year’s Czech Press Photo competition has been awarded to Czech News Agency’s photographer Michal Kamaryt for his photographs of the former Central Bohemian governor David Rath in the court building where his trial is being held. Mr. Rath is the main defendant in a major trial concerns bribe-taking and the manipulation of tenders in the construction and health care sectors in the Central Bohemia Region. According to the Czech Press Photo judges, Mr. Kamaryt’s photograph symbolizes the discontented mood in the country and also shows the extent of corruptions in the Czech Republic.
Former Soviet dissident and poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya received an honorary medal from Prague’s Charles University on Tuesday for her lifelong commitment to the struggle for democracy, freedom and human rights. Ms. Gorbanevskaya was one of eight people who came out onto the Red Square in Moscow in 1968 to protest the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. She was arrested along with the other within minutes of beginning the protests and was placed in psychiatric facility for two years. She emigrated to France in 1975, but has been outspoken about human rights abuses in the Soviet Union and post-Communist Russia.
The search for the two Czech mountain climbers missing in Nepal will be renewed, according to a spokesperson of the Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry. Climbers Jakub Vaněk and Petr Machold went missing on 13 October, during their attempted climb up the Baruntse mountain, which is next to Mount Everest. The experienced climbers were caught in a snow storm in the second camp at around 6.5 kilometers above sea level, as they attempted to reach the more than 7–kilometer high summit. The helicopter rescue services attempted to evacuate the climbers on October 17 and 18, but saw only a torn-up tent and no sign of life at the camp. The helicopter was unable to land at the time, because of the rough terrain and unfavorable weather conditions.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery