Petr Dohnal has been re-instated head of the Prison Service. Justice Minister Robert Pelikan made the announcement shortly after the Prague Municipal Court ruled invalid Dohnal’s dismissal from office by his then-superior, former justice minister, Helena Válková. Dohnal who was dismissed on the grounds of incompetence, filed a complaint against Válková’s decision saying she had blamed him for mistakes made by the previous management and arguing that his dismissal was unsubstantiated and illegal. His complaint was upheld by the present justice minister, Robert Pelikán.
The State Nuclear Safety Authority has extended the operating license for the first reactor of the Dukovany nuclear power plant until the end of March. The present license expires at the end of this year and the power utility CEZ, which operates the plant, asked the State Nuclear Safety Authority to suspend the administrative proceedings concerning a new license until February 28 because it needs more time to carry out extended checks at the unit. According to the State Nuclear Safety Authority’s head Dana Drábová, the postponement will have no impact on the power plant's operation.
The Višegrad Group states defended a common position at the EU summit in Brussels. In a joint declaration, the Višegrad Group ( the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary) underscored the need to preserve the Schengen open space and strengthen security at Schengen’s outer borders in order to bring the influx of migrants fully under control. The Višegrad Group states also said that while they were prepared to support the United Kingdom's proposals aimed at strengthening competitiveness and increasing the role of national parliaments, they would oppose any restriction to freedom of movement within the alliance.
The lower house of Parliament has approved a government proposal which will enable the Czech Republic to contribute over 800 soldiers to the NATO rapid response forces next year, instead of the previously approved 452. Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky requested the amendment due to a general revision of the concept of NATO’s rapid reaction forces which involves bigger contributions by individual membership countries. The Senate has already consented to the change.
A debate on the adoption of electronic cash registers in the lower house was curtailed on Friday after another round of filibustering from opposition MPs. The bill on electronic cash registers is a flagship move by finance minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš aimed at cracking down on tax fraud, but has met with strong opposition from the centre-right Civic Democrats and TOP 09, who say it will increase state bureaucracy and force the closure of many small businesses. They have vowed to block it for as long possible by using whatever delaying tactics are within their means. Debate on it will continue on January 8th.
The ANO party of the governing coalition is proposing a procedural amendment which would restrict the amount of time for debate individual lawmakers and parties have in the lower house. According to party deputy chair Jaroslava Jermanová debating time should not only be restricted but divided fairly among the parties represented in Parliament. The move comes after several weeks of filibustering from opposition deputies who have thus successfully blocked the passage of a bill on electronic registers.
Czechs are marking the fourth anniversary of the death of Václav Havel, the country’s first post-communist president, with commemorative events taking place around the country. Throughout the day people have been lighing candles and laying flowers at spots associated with the late president.Cardinal Dominik Duka will celebrate a mass in Václav Havel's memory at the Prague Crossroads Culural Centre and the Václav Havel Library will host a staging of his play Audience. Fans of the ex-president will join a march from Wenceslas Square to the Prague Castle, carrying hand-made hearts created in memory of the late president.
Edita Hrda, the Czech ambassador to the United Nations, has been appointed Managing Director Americas for the European External Action Service (EEAS). The appointment was announced by Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Ambassador Hrda is a senior Czech diplomat who has served as ambassador in the Americas and Caribbean region and held high management posts at the Czech Foreign Ministry. She was also member of the supervisory board of Export Bank, a Czech export guarantee and insurance corporation.
The Czech state budget deficit will not exceed 70 billion crowns this year, i.e. 30 billion crowns less than projected, the Finance Ministry said in a state debt financing and management strategy for 2016 released on Friday. The government is committed to gradually reducing the gap in public spending, with the 2015 deficit having been projected at 100 billion crowns, and next year’s at 70 billion crowns. The long-term plan is for the deficit to reach 60 billion crowns in 2017 and 50 billion in 2018.
The Social Democratic Party has forged ahead in popularity ratings, gaining an edge over its coalition partner, the ANO Party, for the first time since February 2014. According to a December poll conducted by CVVM, the Social Democrats would now win general elections with 26.5 percent of the vote. ANO is close behind with 26 percent. The Communist Party would place third with 11 percent followed by the Civic Democrats with 8.5 percent and TOP 09 with 8 percent. The only other party to cross the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house are the Christian Democrats who would get 7 percent.
The prosecutor in the case of Petr Kramný, who is suspected of having murdered his wife and daughter on holiday in Egypt in 2013, is seeking a 30-year sentence for the defendant. Medical experts who examined the bodies concluded that they were killed by an electric charge, rather than having been poisoned as was originally assumed by the Egyptian authorities. Kramný, who maintains that his wife and daughter died of severe food poisoning, has already spent two years in custody.