A court in Brno has ruled the local elections in the northern part of the city invalid. The court was dealing with a complaint from one of the locals who said that Romany voters had been bribed with money and free access to a party at a local restaurant to support a given candidate. The court ruled that the elections had not been free and fair. The interior ministry now has 30 days to announce a new election date. Fresh elections must take place within 90 days of the announcement.
The head of the Czech Christian Democratic Party Pavel Bělobrádek has said that the new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker should resign from office if it emerges that the agreements which allowed 340 multinational companies to avoid tax in Luxembourg in the years when he served as prime minister were in violation of the law. Juncker, who was prime minister of Luxembourg for nearly two decades has taken political responsibility for what happened. Czech MEP Jan Zahradil of the Civic Democrats has also issued a critical stand, urging Mr. Junker to resign.
A full 58 percent of Czechs say they have trouble making ends meet on their present income, according to a survey conducted by the CVVM polling agency. 94 percent of respondents said they had no problem meeting basic needs such as food and clothing but only 58 percent said they were able to finance their hobbies and meet unexpected expenses. 38 percent of respondents said their income allowed them to shop for healthier foods and 36 percent said they were able to save some money every month. Only 8 percent of respondents said they would describe themselves as rich while 34 percent said they considered themselves to be poor.
In his first two months in office the Czech Ombudsman for Education Eduard Zeman received close to 170 complaints and requests for help, the Czech Education Ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The complaints were frequently related to bullying, bossing and controversial regulations introduced at different schools. The Education Ministry said that the high number of complaints received showed the need for an ombudsman in the field. The Ombudsman for Education has the same rights and duties as the Czech Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová, who does not have the power to enforce decisions but as a moral authority is able to make recommendations.
A number of NGOs active in the field of human rights and minorities have issued a joint declaration which points to what they call persisting discrimination of Romany children in the Czech education system. The declaration, initiated by the Open Society Fund Prague, was released on the seventh anniversary of a verdict by the European Court of Human Rights which ruled in favour of a group of Czech Romanies who claimed their children were discriminated against by the state because they had automatically been placed in special schools. The NGOs, among them Amnesty International, the League of Human Rights, IQ Roma and Coexistence, point out that seven years after this verdict was passed Romany children make up a third of all pupils at schools for children with special needs.
The Prague Freedom Foundation will present US Senator Roger Wicker with its first Defender of Freedom Award on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in Czechoslovakia. The Senator is being so honoured for his support for maintaining Radio Free Europe broadcasts to the western Balkans. The award is to be presented on November 17th at a concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Washington. It will be attended by the Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, and the former US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, among others.
Representatives of the ANO party, the Social Democrats and the three-way grouping of the Green Party, the Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents have signed a coalition agreement on administrating Prague. Adriana Krnáčová of the ANO party, which won the local elections in Prague, will be the city’s new mayor, the first woman ever in the city’s top post. ANO will hold the city’s finances, security, health and housing. The Social Democrats will be responsible for transport, social policy, European funds and education while the three-way Coalition will get the departments of environment, culture and infrastructure.
Czech and German police have broken up an international pervitin producing gang, which operated in Prague and Leipzig. The German Federal Criminal Police Office made the announcement on Thursday. It said German police arrested seven people, who were found in possession of 2.9 tonnes of chlorefedrine, a chemical drug used for manufacturing pervitin. That quantity would be sufficient to make 2.3 tonnes of the drug, which could be sold on the black market for roughly five billion crowns (184 million Euros).
The American Kronos Quartet is set to perform on Thursday in Prague’s Rudolfinum concert hall. The concert will mark the 40th anniversary of the legendary string quartet. Kronos specializes in contemporary classical music and has cooperated with many minimalist composers including Arvo Part, Steve Reich and Philip Glass. The Kronos Quartet has collected a series of awards, including the Grammy.