The Czech Constitutional Court has received a proposal to abrogate a law
which allowed the recent establishment of the Czech Republic’s Institute
for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. The proposal put forward on
was signed by 57 opposition deputies from the Social Democratic as well as
Communist Parties. The recently-founded institute is to study the periods
of Nazism and communism in Czech history. From the start its establishment
has strongly been opposed by left-of-centre politicians, who have argued
will be a waste of funds and say it could make it possible to politically
influence the interpretation of history. It is unclear how soon the
Constitutional Court might rule on the proposal.
Last week historian Pavel Zacek was elected the institute's first head; he will formally assume his new post on January 1.
According to Czech-counter intelligence, the BIS, criminal groups from
countries from the former Soviet Union went so far as to “elect” a
high-standing organised crime leader for the Czech Republic. The BIS
revealed the information in its annual report for 2006. According to the
service, the criminal boss allegedly oversees activities of all
Russian-speaking criminal groups across the Czech Republic. BIS spokesman
Jan Subert has declined to reveal whether the authorities know the
figure’s identity. The boss is said to have been elected at a secret
meeting in Moscow at which Russian, Ukrainian and Caucasian groups divided
territories of operation.
The recent murder of a chauffeur of the head of the Czech Republic’s largest lottery company – a case of mistaken identity - has drawn increased attention to the activity of criminal gangs on Czech territory.
Czech-American economist and presidential hopeful Jan Svejnar arrived in Prague on Friday after spending the Christmas holiday in the United States. He arrived in the capital with his wife and daughter roughly a month before the election, to begin on February 8. The candidate has gotten backing from the Green Party and the opposition Social Democrats, and is thought to have the support of some Christian Democrats and Communists; he is the only other candidate in the race against incumbent Vaclav Klaus. A recent poll conducted by the STEM agency suggested some 34 percent of Czechs feel that Mr Svejnar would do a better job as president, while an equal number says the same for Mr Klaus. A remaining 32 percent of respondents made clear they had no preference.
Representatives from the Transport Ministry and the Austrian company Kapsch have signed an amendment to an existing contract, along which Kapsch will build toll systems on planned Czech motorways, whose construction is to begin at the latest by 2017. The news was revealed by a ministry spokesman on Thursday. Currently, tolls are collected on nearly 1,000 kilometres of motorway in the Czech Republic, affecting transport trucks weighing 12 tonnes or more.
Czech cross country skier Lukas Bauer has won the opening race of the Tour de Ski in Nove Meste na Morave, in its second edition after it’s inauguration year. The tour includes eight races, and the overall time winner gets 400 World Cup points. Bauer won the opening 4.5-kilometre classical style race in a time of 11 minutes 15.6 seconds, beating Germany's Axel Teichmann by a second. Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeset finished third place with 11:18.9.
Ales Loprais, the nephew of famous Czech truck racer Karel Loprais, will compete for the second time as a driver in the truck category at the Dakar Rally. The younger driver, who is in his late 20s, came in third in his first appearance last year. His uncle won the famous race twice: in its tenth and twentieth editions. The thirtieth edition kicks off on January 5.
Football striker Martin Fenin, who plays for Teplice and has also performed for the Czech national squad, has agreed on a transfer to the German Bundesliga, where he will play for Frankfurt. Teplice will earn about 4 million euros, the equivalent of almost 6 million US dollars, in the deal. Fenin is a silver medallist from the Under-20 Football World Cup, where the Czechs lost in the final in Toronto against Argentina.
A day after falling to Canada 3:0 in their opener at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship in Pardubice, the Czechs rebounded with a win over Denmark. The Czech team’s captain, Micahel Frolik, put the Czechs ahead early in the first period by scoring a natural hat trick. The Czechs added two more in the second, before the Danes pulled back with two goals. On Saturday the Czechs will face Slovakia.
Czech political leaders have condemned the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. President Vaclav Klaus said he had been deeply shocked by the violence, calling it an abominable attack against the very foundations of human civilization. The Czech Foreign Ministry expressed concern for the fate of the country. In a statement for the CTK news agency the Foreign Ministry said that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto would almost certainly influence the course of elections in Pakistan and expressed hope that the country would not be thrown into turmoil.
All three parties in the centre-right government have promised to support the pension reform bill in its first reading in the lower house. The draft, proposed by Civic Democrat Labour Minister Petr Necas, outlines radical changes to the current pay-as-you-go system, including a higher retirement age for both men and women and a longer period of mandatory insurance. Although in earlier years there was general consensus that the pension reform should receive support across the political spectrum, now Minister Necas says that the need for reform is so pressing he wants it approved with or without support from the opposition parties. The Greens and Christian Democrats have both promised to support it in its first reading in the lower house.