FBI agents have arrested a man suspected of robbery and torture in Prague. Hossein Nayeri and three others were charged with kidnapping for ransom, aggravated mayhem, torture and burglary after they allegedly drove the owner of a California medical marijuana dispensary to the dessert last October and brutally tortured him in order to get money from him. One of the suspects was arrested already last year, while two others were arrested on Friday in Fresno. Mr. Nayeri was allegedly transferring flights in Prague on Thursday on his way to see his family in Spain. He will face extradition proceedings in the Czech Republic.
The Christian Democratic party wants to see their chairman Pavel Bělobrádek become the deputy speaker of the lower house, if they were to enter into a coalition government with the Social Democrats and the ANO party. The deputy chairwoman of ANO, Věra Jourová, announced on Friday that her party expects to receive five or six cabinet posts in the possible new government, and are most interested in the ministries of interior, foreign affairs and finance. ANO also want to nominate one of their deputies for the post of speaker of the lower house. The Social Democrats, who received the most votes in the October general elections, are planning to begin discussions on the possible make-up of the future government on Saturday evening at the meeting of the party leadership.
A nursing secondary school in Prague has forbidden two of its female Muslim students to wear the tradition hijab headdress to class, causing the students to leave the school. One of the students offered to wear the scarf in a way that would only cover her hair, but the school’s principal said that it was still unacceptable. The other student began attending classes without the hijab, but also left the school a few days later. The school said that wearing any headgear is against official policies and that the 23-year-old Somali and the 25-year-old Afghan students had other problems with school rules, which the young women deny. There are currently no laws in the Czech Republic, which concern religious dress in public.
Thirty-eight Romani university students have received a stipend worth 21,500 crowns (800 Euros) for the academic year from the Roma education fund. According to some estimates, there are a little over 100 Romanis studying in Czech universities. Most of them are focusing on the fields of education, humanities, as well as economics and medicine. In the nine years of existence, the Roma education fund has provided stipends to 205 Roma university students.
Four in ten Czechs are proud of their citizenship, according to a recent survey by the Public Opinion Research Center (CVVM). The survey also revealed that 14 percent are ashamed of being Czech and 42 percent are ambivalent. National pride among Czechs has been steadily decreasing. In October 2011, 47 percent were proud of their Czech citizenship, while nine percent were ashamed of it. Around two-thirds of the respondents said if given a choice of any country of residence they would live in the Czech Republic. Two years ago, some 70 percent gave the same answer.
Top Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková took second place in the 3000 meter race at the opening World Cup speed skating event of the season in Calgary, Canada. Sáblíková finished 35 seconds behind the German veteran skater Claudia Pechstein, and 29 seconds ahead the current world champion Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.
Three senior Social Democratic officials who had attempted to oust party chair Bohuslav Sobotka after disappointing election results have resigned from positions in the party leadership. Michal Hašek and Zdeněk Škromach have stepped down as deputy party chairs while Jeroným Tejc quit as the head of the Social Democrat MPs’ club. The three officials, along with another two senior Social Democrats, attended a secret meeting with President Zeman just hours after the polls closed in the recent general elections, causing a major controversy within the party. A majority of party members have backed Mr. Sobotka, calling for those implicated in the revolt to resign. In a reaction, Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday appreciated his rivals’ decision, and said he saw no reasons for other party officials to quit.
The ANO party, which came second in the Czech general elections last month, will demand the post of the lower house speaker, ANO deputy chair Věra Jourová told reporters on Friday. ANO leaders met with Christian Democrat representatives on Friday to discuss their cooperation in the Chamber of Deputies. Both parties agreed that the number of lower house committees, sub-committees and other bodies should be lowered. The parties also reiterated their positions on the possibility of forming a coalition with the Social Democrats; both parties are determined to either join a coalition government together, or back a Social Democrat minority cabinet.
The Czech unemployment rate in September remained at 7.6 percent, unchanged from the previous month, according to government figures released on Friday. The country’s labour offices registered over 550,000 job seekers last month, which was 377 less than in September. Compared to the same month last year, however, there were nearly 60,000 unemployed people more. Analysts say the Czech labour market has stabilized but expect a slight increase in the number of jobless people in the coming months.
The employees of the mining firm OKD on Friday voted to reject a draft collective agreement and to approve a possibility of going on strike. Some 60 percent of OKD workers took part in the vote, a prerequisite for the firm’s trade unions to declare strike. The north Moravian mining firm, part of the embattled NWR company, has come under pressure due to falling prices of coal. The draft collective agreement included a plant to cut vacation and Christmas bonuses, and conditioned a 4-percent pay rise by meeting the firm’s mining target, among other things. Earlier this year, OKD made some 250 workers redundant; the firm is also planning to close down one of its mine, a move that would cut another 3,000 jobs.