A brawl among the Czech coalition parties over the defence minister, Civic Democrat Alexandr Vondra continued on Sunday after the head of the TOP 09 party MPs’ group, Petr Gazdík, said Mr Vondra should not take part in any future coalition negotiations if he remains in his post. Mr Vondra is under pressure to step down from the TOP 09 party over his role in a questionable deal relating to the country’s EU presidency in 2009. Coalition leaders agreed earlier this week Mr Vondra should apologize for the overpriced contract to the lower house but his address failed on Friday to satisfy his critics. Finance Minister, and deputy TOP 09 head Miroslav Kalousek then called on the defence minister to step down. ¨
Czech fugitive Radovan Krejčíř had access to phone recordings with
conversations of South African officials related to his case, the
country’s Sunday Times reported on Sunday. The recordings, which included
conversations between a forensic investigator the head of a special police
unit, were delivered to him by senior crime intelligence officers. Mr
Krejčíř He handed himself over to the police on Friday, and will be
reportedly charged with insurance fraud.¨
The 42-year-old Radovan Krejčíř, who is wanted in the Czech Republic for fraud and conspiracy to murder, fled the country in 2005 and later settled in South Africa. He has since become a powerful figure of the local underworld, and is linked to several high-profiles murders.
Several tens of activists gathered outside the Czech Agriculture Ministry in Prague on Sunday to protest against poor labour conditions experienced by foreign workers in Lesy ČR, the state-owned forestry firm. The organizers said hundreds of workers from Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia were abused and exploited while working for the firm; some of them said they were forced to work 12-hour shifts without getting full pay. The activists asked the authorities to properly investigate the case, and to make sure the workers receive the rest of their wages.
The Czech actors’ association handed out the Thálie annual theatre awards in Prague o Saturday. The award for best female performance went to the 81-year-old actress Květa Fialová for the role of Maude in Colin Higgins’ Harold and Maude, staged at the Slovácké Theatre in Uherské Hradiště; the Thálie award for best male performance was awarded to Jiří Štepnička for the part of Raymond in the play Blackbird by David Harrower, at Prague’s National Theatre. Operatic soprano Naděžda Kniplová, who was awarded for her life-time achievement, refused to accept the award, and said she should have been awarder earlier.
The celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the birth of St John Neumann, a Czech born missionary to the United States and the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, began on Sunday in southern Bohemia, with a mass and a concert in his home town of Prachatice. The celebrations will also be held in Germany, where his father came from, and in the United States, where he died aged 48. John Neumann was the first and so far the only US male citizen to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Celebrations of his 200th birthday will go on until June when a national pilgrimage and a conference will be held.
Czech painter Jitka Válová died in Kladno on Sunday at the age of 88, the news agency ČTK reported. Jitka Válová worked together with her twin sister Květa they had their first exhibition in 1958. In her work, she focused on figural motifs she combined with natural and industrial elements. She was a leading member of the artistic group Trasa that was established in the 1950s. Her sister died in 1998.
Slavia Prague beat regular season winners Třinec 4:0 on Saturday, and are leading 3:1 in the best-of-seven semifinal series of the playoffs. Třinec was unable to score against Slavia’s excellent defence; in the 50th minute, Třinec managed to get the puck in but the goal was disallowed since the frame of the goal was displaced. In the other series, Vítkovice are leading 3:1 against defending champions Pardubice; the series’ fifth game is scheduled for Sunday.
The opposition Social Democrats have regained a majority in the upper
house of Parliament after Jiří Dienstbier Jr. won a seat vacated by his
late father. Mr Dienstbier Jr. defeated on Saturday Civic Democrat Dan
Jiránek in the second round of voting for a Senate seat representing the
Kladno district, central Bohemia, winning over 65 percent of the vote. The
turnout at the polls was less than 18 percent. Mr Dienstbier succeeds in
the post the late Senator Jiří Dienstbier, the country’s first
post-communist foreign minister, who passed away in January, aged 73.
Jiří Dienstbier Jr.’s victory means the Social Democrats now have 41 seats in the 81-seat Senate. However, any veto from the opposition-controlled Senate can be overturned by the lower house whether the ruling right-of-centre coalition has a comfortable majority of 118 MPs.
The 2011 housing and population census officially began at Friday midnight which is the point of reference on which responses are to be based. On-line census forms were made available; more than 280, 000 Czechs have since filled them in, and the authorities expect around three million people will do so in the coming days. The distribution of paper forms began three weeks ago; people have until April, 14 to hand them in. The census’ results should be announced in September.
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