Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra is in Afghanistan on what is being described as a morale-boosting visit to the Czech contingent. The country currently has 720 soldiers stationed in the provinces of Wardak and Logar where they have recently come under increased attacks from insurgents. The minister is accompanied by army chief of staff Vlastimil Picek and the Czech ambassador to the US, Petr Gandalovič. No details of the visit have been released for security reasons.
President Václav Klaus has harshly criticized statements made by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on a Czech TV program on Sunday. According to a press release published by Mr. Klaus on Monday, the foreign minister is choosing personal attacks over remaining objective when talking about his work. At a recent meeting of Czech ambassadors in Prague, the Czech president had criticized Mr. Schwarzenberg’s foreign policy concept. When asked about the criticism on television, the foreign minister said that Mr. Klaus was intentionally voicing such criticisms and alleged that he was planning to establish a euro-skeptic party. He added that Mr. Klaus should be more careful to avoid being perceived internationally as a “sometimes quite amusing provocateur.”
A set of diplomatic dispatches from Prague’s US embassy was leaked by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks. In the dispatches, Czech President Václav Klaus is described as a self-centered man who is proud of being considered an intellectual. In another document, Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra is dubbed America’s biggest ally among Czech politicians. Along with thousands of other American diplomatic documents, the dispatches from Prague were made public by WikiLeaks last week.
A German citizen who participated in a May 1 gathering of far-right extremists in Brno will be charged for hate speech by Czech police. He is facing a prison sentence of up to five years. The German man, a member of the far-right party NPD, was speaking to a group of right-wing extremists in the Czech city in German. A tape of the speech was analyzed by an expert, who found several passages were in conflict with Czech law. Some 400 extremists had participated in the gathering on May 1,2011, and ten participators are currently facing criminal investigation.
The chairwoman of the Czech Freedom Fighters Union, Anděla Dvořáková, has died at the age of 84, members of the union confirmed on Monday. Mrs. Dvořáková joined the union in 1946 and in 2009 was awarded with a high state honor, the Order of T.G. Masaryk by President Václav Klaus, whose views on the Lisbon treaty she shared. She was a vocal critic of many politicians and MPs of the European Parliament and accused the Sudeten Germans of trying to revise the history of World War II. A memorial service for Mrs. Dvořáková will be organized by the union.
A thirty-six-year old woman who is suspected of having killed her four children before attempting to commit suicide has been charged with the crime, following police interrogation. Police informed the public of this step on Monday. The case is being closely followed as one of the worst crimes in the country’s modern history. The woman is currently in a psychiatric clinic, from where she will be transported to a prison hospital. The mother is the prime suspect though it is still not clear what could have led her to brutally murder her four children aged between 2 months and 8 years. There is speculation that she might have been suffering from a serious case of post-natal psychosis. Her live-in partner, the father of the youngest child, who came upon the scene of the tragedy, has suffered a mental breakdown and is in the care of doctors.
Average Czech salaries up by 2.5 percent year-on-year
The Czech Republic’s average monthly salary increased by 574 crowns in the second quarter of 2011, according to fresh data from the Czech Statistical Office. Czechs earned 23 984 crowns per month on average in this period, a growth of 2.5 percent year-on-year, or 0.7 percent after adjustment for inflation. In the entrepreneurial sphere, the trend of increasing salaries continues to be strong, with the nominal growth averaging 3.2 percent, while a lower rate of growth in non-entrepreneurial professions has been observed. Employees in the public sector and in science and research saw the biggest drop in salaries.
Former prime minister Mirek Topolánek was voted into the post of director of the Association for the District Heating of the Czech Republic, an umbrella organization of the country’s heating plants. Currently, Mr. Topolánek is the director of the company VAE Controls Group, which focuses on energy and infrastructure. The heating sector could be facing problems due to short supplies in coal in the future, which would drive up prices. In addition, stricter environmental and emission standards are likely to put pressure on the industry. Mr. Topolánek will be replacing Alexej Nováček, who left prematurely.
Police arrested a group of five suspected of growing large amounts of marijuana in the Pardubice and Chrudim regions. They face prison sentences of up to 12 years. According to investigating officers, the arrest is one of the biggest crack-downs on drug-related crime to ever be accomplished in the region. The group of three men and two women had been operating out of three houses across the region since 2008. Police confiscated some 5000 marijuana plants, two cars, several hundred-thousand Czech crowns as well as growing equipment.
Two people were killed and six injured when two passenger cars collided on a motorway between Holice and Hradec Králové on Sunday. According to a police spokeswoman, one passenger died at the site of the accident while another succumbed to their injuries in a nearby hospital. Three children were among those injured. This weekend, eight people died in accidents on Czech roads.
The start of the week brings a drop in temperatures by about 10 degrees Celsius, with daytime highs of up to 20 degrees. Rain is expected on Monday.