The leadership of the Czech communist party (KSČM) has formally announced that it aligns itself with the spirit and thinking of the notorious February 1948 communist putsch. The announcement came on Friday afternoon, following a meeting of the party’s leadership. A statement issued by the party noted that it was grateful for the “sacrifice and hard work of the generation that formed the first form of socialism.” However, the party also conceded that this early form of what it deemed “socialism” was replete with “inadequacies and tragic deformations.” The party also formally rejects that it undertook an illegal putsch, insisting that the events in 1948 were a “constitutionally sound revolution, in which wide layers of society took part.” The remarks come as the Czech Republic marks 60 years since the beginning of one party rule in Czechoslovakia, and are likely to infuriate many Czechs.
The Czech town of Plžen is bracing itself for an expected march on Saturday by up to 400 nationalist radicals. As part of the demonstration, the extremists are set to march in front of a synagogue in the town. The police have threatened to intervene to prevent the demonstration, while a gathering of those opposed to the nationalists, including far-left and anarchist groups is also expected to take place at the same location.
Embattled Czech Green Party leader Martin Bursík has said that he will take very seriously a request by the party’s regional representation in the district of Olomouc to consider stepping down as chairman. Mr. Bursík has been under fire since an email leaked earlier this week in which he called a fellow Green MP a “cow”. Critics have accused Mr. Bursík of losing control over an increasingly fractious party ever since the dismissal of Dana Kuchtová as education minister late last year. The Greens leader and Environment Minister is set to formally consider his future position when the party meets for a regular conference on March 7.
Czech Labour Minister Pavel Nečas has announced that pensions will rise in the country by an average of 465 Crowns (around 27 USD) from August. The official reason for this rise is the unexpected increase in the price of a number of basic goods in recent months. However, government rules state that such exceptional rises in pensions can only be implemented when prices rise by an average of 10%. At present, price rises are around 5.1% a month. As a result, Mr Nečas has proposed an amendment which would allow pension rises in conditions of price rises of 5% or more.
The Czech Army is set to purchase up to 107 armoured vehicles from the Austrian company Stejr, the magazine Euro reported on Friday. A previous contract under which the Czech Army was to purchase 234 armoured transport vehicles was cancelled last November after the Austrian company revealed that it would not have enough time to fulfil the order. The as yet unconfirmed new numbers have raised eyebrows among critics of the deal, who point out that the initial contract was suspicious in that far more vehicles were ordered than were actually required. The Czech Defence Ministry has so far refused to comment.
The head of the Czech Republic’s largest opposition party, Jiří Paroubek, met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today, as part of a week-long visit to the country. The Social Democrats chairman has rejected criticism by PM Mirek Topolánek that the visit is at odds with current Czech foreign policy, pointing out that both the Slovak and Austrian presidents had recently visited the country. Mr Paroubek’s visit is intended to strengthen economic and political ties between the Czech Republic and Syria.
A Czech woman has been awarded 80,000 Czech crowns (around 5000 USD) in compensation by a court in the Czech city of Brno for an unsuccessful abortion carried out in 2000. The woman, who was expecting twins, only had one foetus aborted, and subsequently gave birth to a baby girl. The award specifically relates to emotional damages caused to the mother.
Around 35,000 packets of Russian-sourced peanuts sold by the Czech Vitana company may have been contaminated by illegal levels of Aflatoxins, the Czech food safety Inspectorate warned today. The packs of salted peanuts are to be re-called, although the Inspectorate is re-assuring Czech’s that safety limits on the toxin have only been marginally exceeded. Aflatoxins are formed by moulds that form on nuts during storage. Excessive exposure can lead to liver damage.
Saturday will mark the 30th anniversary of the first flight by a non-Soviet and non-American astronaut. The flight was made Czech born air-force pilot, Vladimír Remek. Today, the 59-year-old Mr Remek, a life-long communist, ia a member of the European Parliament. Following his eight-day flight aboard the Russian Soyuz 28, Mr Remek was awarded the title of Hero of The Soviet Union.
Marketa Irglová, along with her song-writing partner Glen Hansard have signed a worldwide publishing agreement with Warner/Chappell Music, the music publishing arm of Warner Music Group. The pair, who recently won the best original song Oscar for “Once” will now issue previous as well as future work under the umbrella of this new contract.