Elections to the European Parliament in the Czech Republic will be held on 24th and 24th of May next year, the Interior Ministry confirmed in a statement on Sunday. The date stems from the decision of the Council of Europe that the elections in individual member states should be held in the last weekend of the month of May. The president should officially announce the date by February 23rd.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo, who was appointed the new papal nuncio to the
Czech Republic, is expected to arrive in Prague on November 22nd. He will
be met at Prague airport by Cardinal Dominik Duka.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo was ordained priest in 1976 in New York. He entered the diplomatic corps of the Holy See a year later.
He has served in the nunciatures in Ghana, Ecuador, Chile, the Czech Republic, Jordan and Lithuania. He speaks English, Italian, Spanish, French and Czech.
The non-profit organization Post Bellum traditionally handed out awards for
civic courage on November 17, the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that
triggered the fall of communism in the Czech Republic.
Among the recipients this year were political prisoner Jiří Světlík, Milena Blatná, who helped political prisoners forced to work in the country’s uranium mines, political prisoner Helena Kociánová who lost a leg helping an inmate and Marta Szilárdová who survived the Holocaust and saved her sister’s life during the Death March.
Several thousand people attended a Concert for the Future on Prague’s
Wenceslas Square on Saturday night.
The concert lasted for more than five hours with music interspersed with speeches by activists, former politicians and personalities from the arts world. The speakers criticized the present political culture in the country and spoke about the need to protect and nurture freedom and democracy.
There were calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who faces charges of EU subsidy fraud.
The concert was preceded by a protest gathering against the prime minister on Old Town Square attended by thousands of people.
Thousands of protesters called for PM Andrej Babiš’s resignation on Old
Town Square on the 29th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. A protest
march against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and President Miloš Zeman that
set off from Prague Castle swelled to several thousand people as it reached
its destination on Old Town Square.
The march titled “In support of a civilized Czech Republic“ was organized by the civic association A Million Moments for Democracy. Protesters said the president and prime minister were lowering the political culture in the country and argued that in the civilized world a person charged with EU subsidy fraud could never serve as prime minister. Participants held up banners criticizing and ridiculing the two top politicians.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is reported to have flown to Switzerland to
meet with his son, Andrej Babiš Jr. who told journalists this week that he
had been forcibly held in Crimea because his father wanted him out of the
way during the investigation into the Storks Nest affair.
The prime minister wrote on Facebook that he had gone to Narodní street to pay his respects during the night hours due to the fact that he had left for Switzerland early in the morning to see his son, whom he had not seen in a year.
The prime minister earlier told journalists that his son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, both here and in Switzerland, and slammed Seznam’s investigative reporters for abusing “a very sick man“ in a smear campaign intended to drive him out of politics.
Opposition politicians are divided over the reactions of the crowd on
Národní street. Opposition Civic Democratic Party leader Petr Fiala told
reporters that he understood people’s anger although he himself does not
approve of this form of protest. People are not just here to commemorate
the anti-communist protest in 1989, they see this as an opportunity to
address present-day concerns, he told journalists.
Other opposition politicians also see the anniversary as a memento of the country’s communist past and a reminder that democracy had to be protected and nurtured.
The president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček slammed the behaviour of what he labelled ”the rabble” saying they were trashing flowers from a man who had actively fought against the communist regime.
The incident of the trashed flowers in being investigated by the police.
The majority of Czechs, around 70 percent, believe that Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš divides society, has a conflict of interest and influences
the media, according to the outcome of a flash poll conducted by the Median
At the same time the majority of people also say that the prime minister has improved the country’s economy, he is credited with better tax collection and jump-starting investments.
From early morning politicians, cultural figures and members of the public
laid flowers and lit candles at key sites linked to the events of 1989,
such as Národní street where the communist police brutally cracked down
on a student demonstration and the equestrian statue of St Wenceslas, the
nation’s patron saint, at the top end of Wenceslas Square.
This year’s celebrations of the anniversary are marked by a scandal involving Prime Minister Andrej Babiš who is under massive pressure to resign following his son’s claim that he had been abducted to Crimea so that he could not testify against his father in a case involving EU subsidy fraud.
The prime minister came to Národni street to pay his respects shortly after midnight in order to avoid a show of public anger. When people started coming to the monument in the early morning hours, someone threw the prime minister’s flowers into a litter bin.A wreath sent by President Miloš Zeman and flowers laid by the populist politician Tomio Okamura, head of the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party, were also trashed. The head of the Social Democrats Jan Hamáček, whose party is in coalition with the prime minister’s ANO party, was booed and jeered by the crowd.
The city centre will be the site of a wide range of outdoor events including concert, debates, public readings and theatre performances organized by the Festival of Freedom initiative which is active in 36 Czech cities this year.
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