A vintage train commemorating the “kindertransports” that carried hundreds of Jewish children to safety from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia before the outbreak of WWII arrived at London’s Liverpool Street Station at midday Friday. Sir Nicholas Winton, who organized the evacuations as a young stockbroker in Prague 70 years ago, was there to meet the train carrying some of the Holocaust survivors who have become known as “Winton’s children”. Mr Winton, now 100 years old, saved the lives of 669 Jewish children altogether by arranging eight transports out of Prague. He has been much honored for his bravery and a statue of him was unveiled in Prague on Tuesday, before the train set off for the British capital.
The Civic Democratic Party has put forward a plan which would allow early
elections to take place before the end of the year. The plan involves a
constitutional amendment – specifically a change of the electoral law –
which would enable the lower house of Parliament to end its term
prematurely and open the way to early elections. Civic Democrat deputies
said that if all went according to plan early general elections could take
place in November at the latest. Plans to hold elections in October were
derailed by the Constitutional Court after an unaffiliated deputy
questioned the right of the lower house to shorten its term in office. The
main political parties are now considering possible legal changes which
would not be open to attack and would in future make it easier to hold
Party leaders and President Václav Klaus are to hold another meeting on Sunday to debate the best possible course of action.
Lawyer Ondrej Lnenicka, a candidate nominated by the Civic Democratic Party for the elections to the Chamber of Deputies, on Friday lodged a constitutional complaint against the Czech Constitutional Court's decision to postpone early elections on the grounds of a complaint from unaffiliated deputy Milos Melcak. Melcak claims the constitutional amendment by which the Chamber of Deputies shortened its term had violated his right to execute his mandate for four years. Reacting to Melcak's complaint analogically, Lnenicka said that by postponing the elections indefinitely his right to be elected would be curtailed as he himself was running for the Chamber of Deputies.
A school in Příbram has apologized for having distributed a promo election DVD of the Social Democrats among a class of fourth graders. The school’s management says it knew nothing about the incident but has taken full responsibility for the fact that a teacher handed out the promo DVD among children in her class at the start of the school year. The DVD was brought in by one of the children and allegedly contained cartoons as well as the said election slots. Election campaigning in schools is banned under Czech law and many parents reportedly called in to complain about the incident.
The Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, who are all members of the Visegrad Group, are considering setting up joint embassies in one building in a number of foreign countries, the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza wrote on Friday. The plan is said to have emerged as a result of cost-cutting measures during the economic crisis which have forced all four states to reduce the number of embassies and consulates around the world. The Czech Foreign Ministry said recently ten Czech embassies and consulates would have to be closed down in the near future.
Ombudsman Otakar Motejl has said he would not apologize for implying that Petra Paroubková, wife of Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek, had timed her pregnancy to coincide with the country’s early general elections. In an interview for the daily Hospodarske Noviny Mr. Motejl said that politicical parties were primarily concered about their investment in the elelction campaign being squandered and that if elections did not take place this year Mrs. Paroubková would probably have to get pregnant again. The internet news site Novinky noted that the remark was in extremely poor taste, but Petra Paroubková is reported to have taken it with good humour saying that she was working hard to time her baby’s arrival but that that these last minute changes in the election date weren’t making it easy for her. Mr. Motejl said he had made the remark in jest.
The Gold Treasure of Košice, Slovakia, will be one of the first collections to go on display in the new building of the Prague National Museum, its director Michal Lukeš told the ctk news agency. The treasure, which consists of some 3,000 coins and other precious items from the 15th and 16th centuries, was brought to Prague in a special van by representatives of the Slovak National Museum on Friday and was guarded by nine masked policemen armed with sub-machine guns. The Košice treasure was uncovered in the 1930s during the construction of a building in the town and its historical significance is said to be immeasurable. It will be on display from mid-September until January of 2010.
The south Bohemian police say they have detained a Slovak national who is wanted in three European states for serious crimes. The man from Banská Bystrica, central Slovakia, headed a group which committed 11 burglaries in Austria and Germany, causing damage of over ten million crowns. If convicted, the Slovak can be sentenced to 15 years in prison in Germany, ten years in Austria and 12 years in Slovakia, a policespokeswoman said. The man is said to have masterminded the group from the Czech Republic.
Police are investigating an accident in which a fourteen-year-old boy driving an old Škoda seriously injured a cyclist after failing to give him right of way on a crossroads. The boy said he had bought the old Škoda from a friend four days ago for the price of 2,000 crowns. A policewoman said the car was not roadworthy and had a different license plate at the front and back. Since the boy is underage the police cannot file charges but his parents are likely to receive a heavy fine and he may be sent to a home for juvenile delinquents.
Independent Member of Parliament Miloš Melčák, whose case before the Constitutional Court has derailed elections planned for October, has said he has no intention of withdrawing his complaint. Speaking to the press Thursday for the first time since the court announced it would hear his case, Mr Melčák said he was unsurprised by developments since then, adding that the only thing that did surprise him was the reaction of President Václav Klaus, who, he claimed, could be quickly stripped of his own mandate by the same law. Mr Melčák’s complaint to the court contests a so-called “one-time constitutional amendment” dissolving Parliament so as to instigate early elections and thereby allegedly depriving Mr Melčák of his right to hold office. The 70-year-old politician said that he would not damage the credibility of his complaint by withdrawing it, but that he had his fingers crossed that any solutions to the crisis would be lasting ones that neither he nor anyone else would be able to contest.