The opposition Social Democratic Party are seeking signatures in order to call for another special meeting of Parliament to discuss the ProMoPro case, in which exorbitant sums were allegedly paid to an audiovisual company from the office of current defence Minister Alexandr Vondra during the Czech EU presidency in 2009. One such meeting was recently proposed but was blocked by the coalition parties. This time, the TOP 09 party, unsatisfied with Mr Vondra’s explanations on that occasion, has said they will not attend the vote on the proposal, thus allowing the opposition a sufficient majority to table the programme. Mr Vondra has accepted partial responsibility for the affair, but his role in it has remained a source of coalition infighting in recent weeks.
Police have begun investigating the case of a Public Affairs deputy chairman who told the press the party paid him for his loyalty and secrecy on party financing. Deputy party chairman Jaroslav Škárka has denied the report, and said he was purposefully not telling the truth during the secretly taped interview. Nonetheless, party chairman and Interior Minister Radek John said Tuesday that the police were investigating the situation of their own accord. He has also filed a lawsuit in connection with the case, and the party’s group of deputies is set to discuss the issue at its session on Thursday.
Benjamin Netanyahu will be the first Israeli prime minister to visit the Czech Republic when he arrives on Thursday for talks with his counterpart Petr Nečas. In addition to economic and scientific cooperation between the Czech Republic and Israel, the leaders will be discussing the situation in North Africa and the Middle East peace process. On Friday, the two-time Israeli PM and Likud party chairman is also to meet with the President Václav Klaus and other Czech statesmen. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the visit would be a unique opportunity and a historic visit. Police are preparing top-level security measures for the two-day visit. One civic association against Israeli treatment of Palestinians is marking the event with a series of protests throughout the week.
The Senate committee on constitutional and legal matters has refused to endorse a bill adding 33 new addictive drugs to the list of banned substances. The bill had already passed through the lower house of Parliament unanimously. The senators were concerned about the way in which the law would be enforced and that the bill includes no transition period before its introduction. The chairman of the committee, Social Democrat Miroslav Antl, said that the police would not be able to allow a degree of tolerance but must act on the prohibition. The Senate as a whole will vote on the bill on Wednesday once it has been discussed by its health committee. A number of the substances were recently banned in Poland, leading to a huge increase in their sale in the Czech Republic where they remained legal.
The number of students in private colleges has skyrocketed to nearly thirty times the number ten years ago, the Czech Statistical Office reports. While the first private colleges began opening in the Czech Republic in 1989, they were attended by only 2000 students at the turn of this century. Last year, there were more than 57,000 students in private schools, or roughly 14% of all college students. Meanwhile private colleges as of last year outnumbered public colleges nearly two to one, with 44 and 28, respectively. The Ministry of Education says the number is too high and that it will no longer support the establishment of new public colleges.
The financial reports of the country’s political parties for 2010 have been published at Parliament. The largest party, the Civic Democrats, show overdue debts in the amount of 146 million crowns as of the end of last year and losses of 222 million. The party says that roughly half of those debts have been paid and the rest will be paid within the year. TOP 09 gave 10.3 million to its associated party of Mayors and Independents. The non-parliamentary party Suverenita - Strana zdravého rozumu showed member contributions of only 126 crowns, while former PM Miloš Zeman’s Strana práv občanů showed considerable contributions of 37.7 million. 82 parties and movements have yet to file their report, which was due last week.
A ten-metre advertising blimp is lost in Czech airspace after coming untied from a building in Stará Boleslav on Monday. The unmanned helium blimp damaged two roofs and a chimney before disappearing into cloudy skies. While it poses no danger in falling to the ground, air traffic control at nearby Prague Airport was forced to adapt flight plans according to its expected speed and course.
Roughly a thousand people attended a demonstration in Liberec on Tuesday in support of Mayor Jan Korytář and oppose the attempts of his former coalition partners to remove him from office. Speaking to the crows, Mr Korytář said his Change for Liberec party remained willing to negotiate with the former coalition and improve communication with them. Change for Liberec won last year’s municipal elections and formed a town hall coalition with the Social Democrats and two smaller parties. Last week the latter three parties withdrew from the coalition, citing problems with communication, and moved to dismiss the mayor.
Archaeologists working in the Prague district of Bubeneč have announced the discovery of a Copper Age man who was buried in the custom of a woman, leading them to believe he may have been a homosexual or transsexual. The grave apparently belongs to the Corded Ware culture of 2800 to 2500 BCE, and the man’s skeleton was found with its head toward the east, as was the custom for women. Ovate jugs typical of women’s burials were found, as were other items uncommon to either gender, however, none of the items ritually buried by the Corded Ware culture with men were found.
HC Oceláři Třinec beat HC Vítkovice Steel 5:2 on Monday night in the first game of the Czech hockey league play-off finals to take a lead in the best-of-seven series. Visitors Vítkovice did well in the game and withstood the initial pressure by the hosts, but Třinec’s power-plays were highly effective. In the 12th minute, Martin Růžička opened the scoring, breaking a 19-year-old record for the best scoring player in the playoffs. In the second period, Třinec added two more power-play goals two minutes apart. Vítkovice then narrowed the gap to 3:1 but did not find enough strength to turn the game around, allowing Třinec to score the first ever win the final series. The finals continue on Tuesday.
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