Interior Minister Martin Pecina on Monday launched administrative proceedings to determine who – of the country’s two police presidents – will lead the force. The move follows the minister’s reinstatement of Petr Lessý after he was cleared of criminal charges. But the current president, Martin Červíček, has been of no mind to step down after serving in the post for a year-and-a-half. President Miloš Zeman criticised the outgoing interior minister for steps leading up to the situation, saying the matter should be resolved once a new minister is named – expected during the first half or so of January – if the three parties negotiating on the new government agree on a final deal.
Three people this year received the Michal Velíšek Prize awarded to those who display courage and help others, often in dire situations. The three - Lukáš Voborník, Petr Uchytil and Jiří Němec - saved a motorist and her two-year-old daughter from a burning car in March of this year. The driver was trapped behind the wheel even as the motor and the front dashboard of the car burned. The three managed to pull both passengers to safety; the fire eventually blazed to a height of around four metres, according to reports The Michal Velíšek Prize is named after an editor at TV Nova was shot and killed in Prague in 2006 while defending a stranger from an aggressor.
Ústí nad Labem’s regional court sentenced a gang of six on Monday for the theft of valuable paintings by leading 20th century avant garde painter Emil Filla. The four oil paintings, dating back to the 1940s and worth an estimated 66 million crowns, were stolen around mid-November. One of them, estimated at four million, was sold to a buyer for a quarter of a million crowns. According to the police, the theft was not commissioned. The highest sentence received in the case was 12 years for Vojtěch Hlouška, who also committed other thefts.
A Romany boys’ choir, including an eight-year-old boy, was accosted by a group of five youths on Friday, seeing punches thrown, kicking and bullying. Respected performer Ida Kelarová, the choir leader, revealed the information; but, she said, the attack was not racially-motivated. The police are searching for the group of five; the youths could be charged with disorderly conduct. None of the boys needed medical treatment, suffering only bruises or scratches; the choir had been due to perform at the Wannieck Gallery in Brno.
Closely Watched Trains, director Jiří Menzel’s masterwork which won the 1967 Best Foreign Language Oscar, will be digitally restored in time for the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival next year. The decision was announced on Monday by festival organisers together with representatives of the National Film Archive. The film is one of the best-known to come out of the Czech New Wave in the 1960s. It was based on a book of same name by Bohumil Hrabal and starred a young Václav Neckář in the lead role.
Karel Schwarzenberg was reelected leader of TOP 09 at the party’s conference in Prague on Sunday. He received 160 votes from an overall 173 delegates present. In his address to the conference Mr. Schwarzenberg said that, despite having been relegated to opposition benches, the party was in a good starting position to fulfill its ambitions. He said its main task now was to work for the good of the country and defend parliamentary democracy. Deputy chair Miroslav Kalousek, who likewise defended his position in the party leadership, echoes these sentiments, warning against Andrej Babis’s ANO party which he said presented an extreme corruption risk in view of its leaders business activities and ambitions.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout will travel to South Africa to attend
Tuesday’s memorial service for the late president Nelson Mandela, the
ministry’s spokeswoman said on Sunday. From there the Czech foreign
minister will travel to Pretoria to pay homage to the former South African
leader. The Czech Republic will have no official representative at the
state funeral to be held in a week’s time.
The announcement came shortly after an embarrassing incident in which the outgoing prime minister, Jiri Rusnok, was caught on tape telling other cabinet members that he had no wish to travel all the way to South Africa for the funeral and hoped the president might want to go instead. He later apologized for his words saying he was under great stress and his work load was excessive.
The parties of the emerging coalition government are debating tax changes as of 2015. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka told Czech Television on Sunday that the proposal currently being discussed envisaged three VAT rates as of 2015 – a standard rate and two lower rates with medicines falling into the lowest category. The fallout in state revenues would be compensated for by higher corporate taxes. Details of the emerging agreement are still to be finalized. The Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats say they have made significant progress on policy matters. A debate on the division of ministerial posts has been postponed until mid-December.
Around 200 Ukrainian nationals currently residing in the Czech Republic met in the centre of Prague on Sunday in a show of support for anti-government protests in Kiev where thousands of their compatriots are demonstrating against the government's suspension of a key EU trade deal. The protesters in Prague marched through the city centre waving national flags and banners reading “Stop Janukovich” and “We want a free Ukraine”. The demonstration was monitored by the police but no incidents were reported.