Czech arms producer Česká zbrojovka has stopped the delivery of CZ P-07 handguns to the Egyptian Interior Ministry. The company has a year-long contract to deliver 50 thousand handguns and hundreds of submachine guns for the police force in Egypt. Since the beginning of recent clashes between government forces and protesters, the non-profit organization Amnesty International has called on all countries exporting weapons to Egypt, which could be used by the police or military against protesters, to seize deliveries. Zbrojovka, which had already delivered at least 15 thousand handguns to the country, agreed to suspend the contract.
The Czech Republic is marking the 45th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. A traditional commemorative ceremony took place on Wednesday morning in front of the Czech Radio building on Prague’s Vinohradská St., attended by Prime Minister Jíří Rusnok, outgoing chairwoman of the lower house of Parliament Miroslava Němcová and other dignitaries. Various civic associations will hold related events on the main squares of the capital and elsewhere around the country. Over 100 Czechoslovaks were killed in the invasion, when an estimated 500,000 soldiers invaded their country in the early hours of August 21 1968 in order to quell the Prague Spring reform movement.
In the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, unknown artists painted a monument to Soviet soldiers pink and wrote “Bulgaria is sorry!” in Czech and Bulgarian under it on Tuesday night. According to a Bulgarian server Dariknews, the artists did this on the 45th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces in order to underline the role of the Bulgarian armed forces in the invasion. The Bulgarian government was one of the strongest proponents of the invasion in 1968, and it was also one of the last countries involved to formally apologize after the regime change.
Dagmar Navrátilová, the deputy chairwoman of the liberal democratic party LIDEM has said that her party will most likely try to form a partnership with another party for the early elections. The founder and first chairwoman of the party, Karolina Peake, resigned from her post in early August due to differences of opinion with the other LIDEM MPs. One of the smallest parties in the outgoing Chamber of Deputies will meet on Thursday to decide on a strategy for the early elections, which are expected to be held at the end of October.
Two companies from Zlín have been selected to build the state-of-the-art scientific center Biocev in the village of Vestec near Prague. Zlínstav and POZIMOS signed an almost 750 million crown contract with Charles University and the Department of Molecular Genetics of the Academy of Science on Wednesday. The biotechnological and biomedical center BIOCEV will be mostly paid for from EU funds. The construction of the top-of-the-line international research and innovation should begin within a month and should be finished by the spring of 2015.
Irish singer Glen Hansard performed on the terrace at Prague Castle’s Riding School on Tuesday night. Hansard, who was promoting his first solo album Rhythm and Repose, was backed by members of The Frames, the band that he has led for over two decades. The musician, who is 43, won an Oscar with the Czech singer Markéta Irglová for the song Falling Slowly and has been a regular visitor to the Czech Republic for many years. Tuesday’s show, which is part of a new initiative to bring live music to Prague Castle, was sold out.
Czech title-holders Viktoria Plzeň beat Slovenian side Maribor 3:1 on Tuesday evening in the first leg of a tie to decide a place in world soccer’s biggest club competition the Champions League. A late goal from Michal Ďuriš boosted the hosts’ chances ahead of the second leg, which will take place in Slovenia on Wednesday next week. The West Bohemian club first reached the Champions League in 2011, the same year they won the Czech league for the first time, and last season topped a Europa League group that included Italy’s Napoli.
Czech MPs have voted to dissolve the lower house, triggering early
elections. Deputies from the Social Democrats, the Communist Party, TOP 09
and some smaller groupings raised their hands for the motion, which was
carried by 140 votes, exceeding the necessary three-fifths majority in the
200-seat lower house. It was the first time that the Czech lower house had
voted for its own dissolution.
Under the constitution, early elections now have to be held within 60 days of President Miloš Zeman formally dissolving Parliament. The president has indicated that he would like to see the nation go to the polls on October 25 and 26.
A caretaker cabinet appointed by Mr. Zeman is serving in demise, after failing to win a confidence vote last week. The president installed the interim government in the wake of the collapse of the previous right-of-centre government headed by the Civic Democrats’ Petr Nečas.
Former Czech president Václav Klaus will return to politics by joining forces with the small Sovereignty party, Právo has reported, adding that the new grouping will be known as Václav Klaus’s Sovereignty. For her part, the founder of Sovereignty, Jana Bobošíková, said on Tuesday that they were interested in cooperating with Mr. Klaus but that he was not going to “join the party”. The group, which has no seats in the lower house, is known for its anti-EU and nationalist policies. On Monday, a close associate of the ex-president, Ladislav Jakl, denied that Mr. Klaus was planning a political comeback.
The Civic Democrats, once the dominant party on the Czech right, now have only 6 percent support, suggests an opinion poll carried out this month by the ppm factum agency. The survey also indicates that backing for the traditional biggest left-wing party, the Social Democrats, is at 21 percent, lower than in a number of previous polls. Among the other parties, right wingers TOP 09 have 10 percent backing, according to the research; the Communists have 9 percent; and President Zeman’s Citizens’ Rights Party–Zemanites and businessman Andrej Babiš’s ANO are both on 5 percent, which is the threshold for entering the Chamber of Deputies.