President Miloš Zeman has defended his decision not to invite two university rectors to a Prague Castle ceremony marking Czechoslovakia Independence Day on October 28, the most important Czech public holiday. Just like last year, Mr Zeman’s office omitted the rectors of Brno’s Masaryk University and the South Bohemian University in České Budějovice from the guest list over past disagreements. On Sunday, Mr Zeman defended his decision and said he was defending the prestige of the head of state and the “interests of all presidents” that would come after him. Mr Zeman’s decision has been criticized by universities and some politicians who said the president was “appropriating” the holiday, and wasn’t able to overcome petty disagreements. Several other university rectors said they would boycott the ceremony in solidary with their colleagues.
The chief justice of the Czech Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, has asked for changes to the legislation to prevent insolvency abuse which he said was the biggest issue facing the country’s legal system. Czech industry firms complained last week that an “insolvency mafia” was targeting companies which had no financial problems, filing proposals with courts to declare them insolvent. Mr Rychetský said that courts should check the background of those who file for insolvency against companies, and the alleged debtors should be given time to defend themselves before they are declared insolvent.
No security flaws were found at the secondary school in Žďár nad Sázavovou where a mentally ill woman killed a 16-year-old student two weeks ago and injured another three people, Education Minister Marcel Chládek told TV Prima on Sunday. Mr Chládek said the school, arbitrarily chosen by the attacker, had better security than most other schools, and participated in a programme teaching students how to react in crisis situations. The Education Ministry will set up a fund to help schools pay for additional security measures, the minister said.
The transition from communism in 1989 saw crime rates quadruple and peak in 1999 when over 426,000 criminal acts were registered. Since then, crime has been steadily declining, following a global trend, the head of the Institute for Criminology and Social Prevention, Miroslav Scheinost said. Last year, the police recorded 325,000 crimes. Repeated offenders have however become a serious issue in the Czech Republic; while in 2000, some 30 percent of criminal acts was committed by repeated offenders, the figure rose to over 52 percent last year, Mr Scheinost said.
The opposition Civic Democrats are the only party in the lower house of the Czech Parliament that will boycott a planned trip of Czech MPs to Moscow, the news website novinky.cz reported on Sunday. A five-member delegation of Czech deputies is set to visit the Russian Duma in early November, on the invitation of its deputy chair Sergei Zheleznyak. Most other parties in the Czech lower house said they would back the trip depending on its agenda.
Women make up around 15 percent of tram drivers in the Czech capital, according to a report by news website novinky.cz. In August, there were 198 women drivers, compared to 1146 men. There are only about 30 women bus drivers in Prague, or 1 percent of the total number, and no women metro drivers. There are also three women train drivers working for Czech Railways, the report said.
During his official visit to China, Czech President Miloš Zeman called for the lifting of visa requirements for Chinese citizens. Speaking at a Czech-Chinese business forum in Beijing, Mr Zeman said the Czech Republic would consider lifting visas for Chinese diplomats, and would propose the move be taken by the EU with the ultimate goal of lifting the visa requirement for all Chinese nationals. The Czech president also said the Bank of China, one of the biggest state-owned banks in the country, would open its branch in the Czech Republic next year. Mr Zeman is in China on a four-day official visit; he is scheduled to meet with the Chinese president and premier on Monday, the last day of his trip.
Two tunnels on the north Bohemian D8 motorway between Prague and the German border have been closed over problems with their lighting systems, the Czech road directorate said. The Panenská and Libouchec tunnels near Ústí nad Labem were closed at 5:30 PM on Saturday, and traffic in both directions is being diverted to alternate routes. It’s not clear when the tunnels will reopen.
The ANO party in the southern city of České Budějovice has struck a deal with TOP 09, the Christian Democrats and the local grouping Citizens for Budějovice to form a coalition at the city hall, the local ANO party leader, Jiří Svoboda said. ANO won the local elections there two weeks ago; the Social Democrats, who came in second, were excluded from the coalition over their exaggerated demands, according to Mr Svoboda.
Despite an overall improvement in the quality of air in the Czech Republic, more than half of the country’s population is affected by air pollution, according to a report on air pollution in 2013 released by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. The report says that at least one emission limit is regularly exceed on 17.5 percent of the country’s territory, an area inhabited by over 54 percent of the population. The north-eastern Ostrava region is worst affected, followed by the urban agglomerations of Prague and Brno.