The police have charged five more people in connection with the recent unrest and anti-Roma demonstrations surrounding the Máj neighborhood in the South Bohemian town of České Budejovice. The charges, leveled against both demonstrators and local Roma residents, include disorderly conduct, violent acts against a group, and inciting racial and ethnic hatred. Three major protests took place in České Budejovice over the past three weeks, which involved both local residents and extremist demonstrators from elsewhere. The police detained more than 60 people during the protests, and so far a total of 10 people have been charged.
The Czech Bar Association has lodged a disciplinary complaint against Vladimír Zavadil, a lawyer who placed an advertisement attacking then presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg that appeared in the tabloid Blesk on the eve of the final round of a presidential election in January. The complaint accuses Mr. Zavadil of not abiding by the legal statutes and professional ethics which require lawyers to act in upright, honorable and respectable manner at all times. The ad urged readers not to vote for Karel Schwarzenberg and made a number of statements, which Mr. Schwarzenberg's team characterized as lies. A police investigation into the matter was shelved earlier. If the disciplinary proceedings prove that he has broken his legal and ethical responsibilities, Mr. Zavadil may be facing a fine or even a ban on practicing law.
A commemorative cobblestone, called Stolperstein, has been placed in front of a house on Kouřimská street in Prague’s Vinohrady neighborhood in memory of the writer and journalist Milena Jesenská, who was arrested by the Gestapo in 1939 and died in the Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1944. Jesenská was a close friend of Franz Kafka and had joined an underground resistance movement after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, for which she was arrested. The Stolperstein cobblestones have been installed in various European cities in front of houses where victims of the Nazi regime resided before their deportation or arrest. In the upcoming days, 89 such stones will be placed around Prague and in a number of other Czech cities. This Sunday, a Stolperstein will be installed in Prague in memory of Přemysl Šámal, who was the first mayor of the city after Czechoslovakia gained independence in 1918.
Finance Minister Jan Fischer said on Wednesday that he had produced sufficient proof that the repayment of his presidential election campaign debt was above-board and now considered the matter closed. The new finance minister came under widespread criticism for accepting over five million crowns from sponsors to repay the said debt soon after it became known that he would get a lucrative post in the new cabinet. A large part of the money was moreover contributed in cash. The finance minister was forced to reveal the identity of his sponsors who stipulated that the money was a gift from their own private funds and the finance minister was not obliged to them in any way. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok has accepted the finance minister’s explanation.
The Czech Foreign Ministry is planning to open new missions in Senegal and Myanmar (Burma). Although lately the ministry has closed down a number of foreign missions, including recently the one in Luxemburg, it is hoping to open and re-open a number of them this year in countries that the ministry deems to be of economic significance to the Czech Republic. The mission in Senegal will be operating from the Austrian embassy in Dakar, while the new diplomatic mission in the Burmese Rangoon will have its own offices. Last year, the ministry announced that it will also open consulates in Qatar, Sri Lanka and Colombia in 2013.
A flight attendant discovered a note on a plane that had arrived from Leeds at Prague’s Václav Havel airports on Thursday, which said that there is a bomb on the plane, news server Lidovky.cz reported on Thursday afternoon. Travelers were immediately evacuated from the plane and part of the airport was also cleared before the plane was inspected by the police and a bomb squad. No explosive devices were found on the plane. The police are now investigating who could have placed the note, which was written in English, onboard the plane.
The twelfth year of the popular Colours of Ostrava music festival has begun in the Silesian city on Thursday afternoon. This year’s festival will feature 46 Czech and 60 foreign bands from 29 different countries. Organizers are expecting at least 60,000 people to attend the official part of the festival as well as the accompanying events happening in the streets of Ostrava until the end of the festival on Sunday. This is the second year that Colours of Ostrava is held in a part of the large former Vítkovice ironworks. The festival began with a concert by an Albanian band Transglobal Underground.
Czech MPs on Wednesday voted against the dissolution of the lower house of Parliament. If passed, the motion would have triggered early general elections within the next 60 days. 96 out of the 188 deputies present voted in favour, 92 against. The Social Democrats and Communists supported the motion; however, former coalition parties, the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and LIDEM voted against. They argue they dispose of a majority in the lower house capable of producing a government, hoping the government of Jiří Rusnok will not win approval from the lower house, and President Zeman will then appoint a Civic Democrat to form the next cabinet.
State attorney Ivo Ištvan has dropped a request for the Chamber of
Deputies to lift former prime minister Petr Nečas’ immunity so as to
allow criminal proceedings to be taken against him in an alleged bribery
case. Mr Ištván, who is overseeing the case, said such
proceedings could not be taken against the former prime minister or
anybody else until the scope of parliamentary immunity was clearly
The move comes a day after the Supreme Court halted the prosecution of three former MPs charged in the same case. They faced corruption charges over a deal made last November; they were opposed to a government bill but agreed to quit their seats in the lower house in return for lucrative posts in state-run firms. Their arrest in June triggered the fall of the government. However, the Supreme Court said they were covered by parliamentary immunity at the time the alleged offence took place.
Justice Minister Marie Benešová on Wednesday rejected calls to launch disciplinary proceedings against state attorney Ivo Ištván who is in charge of the Nečas case. Following the Supreme Court’s breakthrough ruling in the case, the former prime minister said proceedings against the state attorney should start immediately. Ms Benešová said she would consult Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman before taking a stand on the issue.