The daily Mladá fronta Dnes has published a fresh report questioning the financing of the junior coalition party Public Affairs. According to the daily the party’s unofficial head Vít Bárta, encouraged party members to gain money for party coffers by giving them a 20 percent commission. The paper says it has a secret document from 2009 to prove its claims. The document allegedly also indicates that the party aimed to capitalize as much as possible on public orders and gain ever-greater political and economic influence. Bárta who was forced to resign as transport minister a month ago and last week withdrew his candidacy for Public Affairs leader, has heatedly denied the claims, saying he had become the target of a massive media campaign aiming to discredit both him and the party.
The opposition Social Democrats have called on Prime Minister Petr Nečas to dismiss all Public Affairs ministers from the government. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said the junior coalition party had lost all credibility and should not be allowed to remain in government, since its incessant scandals were damaging not only the Nečas cabinet but the country as such.
TOP 09, member of the centre right coalition, has expressed grave concern over the scandals surrounding its coalition partner Public Affairs and has called for a meeting of the coalition leadership to debate the crisis. Deputy party chair and Labour Minister Jaromir Drabek said the negative publicity surrounding the junior coalition party was reflecting badly on the entire cabinet and its work. He said that TOP 09 considered the implementation of reforms to be a key priority but that it could not close its eyes to the fact that the integrity of one of the coalition parties was being questioned.
As the government crisis deepened both TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats have heard calls from inside party ranks that it would be better to throw Public Affairs overboard and continue as a minority cabinet. However the two strongest parties only have 94 seats combined In the 200-member lower house and a minority cabinet would thus be left entirely at the mercy of Public Affairs.
Outgoing deputy prime minister Radek John meet with Prime Minister Petr Necas on Tuesday to hand over his resignation in person and explain the reasons behind his decision to leave the cabinet. Although Radek John has said his decision is irreversible, the fate of the three party coalition is still up in the air and should be decided in coalition talks this week. The junior Public Affairs party has put down a number of tough conditions on the grounds of which it would be prepared to remain in government –a rewrite of the coalition agreement, the dismissal of three ministers from the two stronger parties and four ministerial posts for itself.
The Czech Republic on Tuesday expelled the Ukrainian military attaché –a move made in retaliation for the expulsion of two Czech diplomats from Kiev last week. The two Czech diplomats expelled were accused of engaging in “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status”, the standard terminology for spying. Prague said the allegations were nonsensical and said the expulsions were motivated by Kiev’s anger over the Czech Republic’s decision to grant asylum to the country’s former economy minister Bohdan Danylyshyn who has been charged with abuse of power. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Tuesday Prague was considering further action. Kiev said it was against a further escalation of tension in bilateral relations and hoped that the expulsion of its diplomat would mark the end of hostilities.
Armed police raided an office of Prague City Hall on Monday due to suspicions of bribery. Detectives from the anti-corruption department believe certain individuals may have been taking bribes when issuing drivers’ licences. Both licensing commissioners and driving schools are suspected. The police say no one has been charged as yet and they have only questioned suspects; they have so far declined to provide further information.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel on Tuesday launched an Amnesty International campaign in support of three prisoners of conscience, Syrian lawyer Muhannad Al-Hasani, Iranian woman Sakineh Ashtiani and Chinese journalist Shi Tao. Mr. Havel and Amnesty International started a petition calling for the prisoners´ release. Recalling his own years in communist prisons Mr. Havel said it had been immensely encouraging for him to receive international support. According to Amnesty International lawyer Muhannad Al-Hasani was sent to prison for three years for his activities supporting human rights advocates, Shi Tao was sentenced to ten years for having released a confidential e-mail from the Chinese government with instructions for journalists how to write about a demonstration and Astiani faces death by stoning for infidelity.
Prague councilors on Tuesday approved a hike in the price of tickets for Prague city transport. As of July 1st passengers will have to fork out six crowns more per ticket, though by way of compensation the tickets will cover a longer time period and allow transiting. For children under 15 and pensioners over 65 city transport will be free of charge.
Critics of summer-time or daylight-saving time will fight their battle to get it abolished on EU ground. Czech MEP Zuzana Roitova said on Tuesday that while the EC did not consider summer-time to be an issue a petition signed by a million people from at least seven EU countries would undoubtedly change that. Critics of summertime argue that the economic advantages it brings are far outweighed by the negative impact on people’s biorhythms and general state of well-being.
Czechs are inconsistent when it comes to sorting waste, according to the outcome of an opinion survey released by Ipsos Tambor. While 87 percent of Czechs sort waste regularly separating paper, glass and plastic bottles, a fifth of respondents who sort waste said they did not bother to sort batteries, chemicals or medicines. The study indicates that concern about environmental protection comes with age, with young people between 18 and 25 generally being more careless about the consequences to the environment.
A gradual warming is expected with day temperatures rising to 25 degrees Celsius mid-week, and hitting 28 degrees towards the end of the week. Scattered showers are expected over the weekend.