Representatives of the centre-right TOP 09 parliamentary party have handed
over a petition to officials at the Russian Embassy in Prague urging Moscow
to respect human rights and release all political prisoners. The petition
is signed by around 2,000 people.
The party’s deputy chair Markéta Pekarová Adamová said the aim of the endeavour was to let people who are being persecuted in Russia know that the international community has not forgotten them.
The move comes in the wake of news that Moscow has placed the Czech NGO People in Need on a list of undesirable organisations, effectively banning any further activity in the country.
A Prague state attorney has filed charges against former transport minister
Vít Barta and former counter-intelligence officer Jan Petržílek in
connection with information leaks of police wiretappings of conversations
between former Prague mayor Pavel Bém and influential Prague businessman
Vít, who once owned the biggest detective agency in the land, is believed to have persuaded Petržílek to leak the incriminatory wiretappings to the press for political reasons. The wiretappings suggest that the then-mayor of Prague Pavel Bém of the Civic Democrats was a mere puppet in the hands of the influential lobbyist.
Both men have previously been investigated in connection with the case. They denied any involvement in the matter.
The Czech government is to debate a proposed amendment to the law which
would increase the age at which women can undergo artificial fertilization
covered by health insurance.
The ceiling which is presently 39 years could thus be increased to 40 years of age. The proposal, put forward by the Health Ministry, reflects the trend of women having children later in life.
Doctors agree with the proposal, saying that while they would not raise the set limit further, at the age of 39 to forty a woman is still capable of carrying a child without too great a risk.
The Senate is an essential part of the system of checks and balances, a
guarantor of the constitutional order and a defender of democracy, the
Speaker of the Czech upper chamber Jaroslav Kubera said at a ceremonial
gathering in the Senate marking the return of freedom to Czechoslovakia
thirty years ago.
Senator Kubera said it was important to defend the Senate’s raison d’étre and refute the arguments of some politicians who claim it is expensive and redundant. The Speaker of the Senate noted that although the upper chamber is made up of senators from different parties and independents it would always defend the basic values of a liberal democracy such as personal freedom and responsibility.
The Senate gathering marking 30 years since the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in then Czechoslovakia viewed a documentary on the events and also heard an address by the country’s first post-communist prime minister and later speaker of the Senate Petr Pithart.
A panel exhibition on the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution opened
in the seat of the European Parliament on Wednesday. The exhibition of
photographs documents the events of 1989 as well as the 1968 invasion of
Czechoslovakia and the harsh normalization period that followed the
crushing of the Prague Spring reforms.
EP Vice President Dita Charanzová who co-organised the exhibition together with Slovak MEP Monika Benová, said looking back at the years of totalitarianism was important so that young people would realize that freedom cannot be taken for granted and must be protected and nurtured.
The Prague Public Transport company has announced a series of changes in
city transport in connection with the upcoming 30th anniversary of the
Velvet Revolution this weekend.
In connection with a planned demonstration at Letna, which is expected to draw approximately 250,000 people on Saturday, the transport company will boost metro connections to the area as well as trams in the vicinity.
On Sunday it will reduce the number of trams in the city centre and reroute some of them in order to clear the way for street celebrations, including a procession following the route of the student demonstration which launched the anti-communist protests in 1989.
Students from Charles University launched an occupational strike at the
university’s main headquarters Karolinum on Wednesday night demanding the
resignation of the university’s rector Tomáš Zima. They filled the main
entrance hall of the university headquarters refusing to budge, despite
Zima’s efforts to diffuse the tension.
The student protesters hold Zima responsible for a number of managerial failings, including the university’s controversial partnership agreement with consumer lender Home Credit, which is known to support the Institute of Vaclav Klaus, a vocal denier of climate change. Following a wave of criticism, the company withdrew from the deal, but students say the rector is no longer trustworthy. They are refusing to leave the premises until he resigns.
The Czech-Chinese Centre at Charles University is to be closed down on the
orders of the university’s rector Tomáš Zima.
The university has been embroiled in a scandal over secret Chinese payments to four of its faculty members, amid concerns that Beijing is using the centre to boost its influence in the Czech academic sphere.
The university fired the head of the university’s Centre for Security Policy, and two other members of the Social Sciences faculty last week after it emerged that they had set up a private fund through which the Chinese embassy paid for conferences co-organised by the university centre.
Rector Zima said he would not stand by and watch the centre damage the university’s reputation. Charles University is the oldest university in Central Europe.