Meeting for its first formal session on Wednesday, the Czech government
formally approved a proposal to limit the immunity of senators and members
of Parliament. The idea was one of the initial changes that the coalition
agreed to after elections. The proposed constitutional amendment would, if
passed by Parliament, limit the immunity of legislators to their terms of
Speaking after the meeting, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said one of the ministries had not yet submitted their first draft policy statement by the deadline. He denied that it was the transport minister Vít Bárta, who is away on holiday, and told reporters only that they would be surprised to learn which minister it was.
The Central Register of Debtors has asked the police to investigate Interior Minister Radek John over allegations of corruption. The charge relates to overpriced contracts signed between the publishing company Ora Print, which Mr John ran for a number of years, and the insurance company VZP and the state forestry company Lesy ČR. According to an investigation by the news website Aktualne.cz, Ora Print charged and was paid up to 18 times the standard price for magazines and cookbooks published for the companies between 2002 and 2010. In its complaint, the register also asked that the case not be handled by the usual police divisions due to concerns of bias within the Ministry of the Interior. Mr John has denied personal involvement in the charges in the past.
Thieves broke into the general staff of the Czech army last week, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. A spokesman for the general staff told the newspaper that unknown persons had reached the first floor of the army’s headquarters, which includes the office of Chief of Staff Vlastimil Picek, last Thursday night. However, he refused to say whether the intruders had entered Lieutenant General Picek’s office, or what exactly was stolen. The army is refusing to say any more about the matter while a police investigation is ongoing.
An internet survey conducted by the polling agency SANEP suggests that the new parliamentary party TOP 09 has taken a large leap in voter preference since elections to the Chamber of Deputies in May. According to the survey, the party would receive 22.8% of the vote if the elections were held today, compared to their real election result of 16.7%. The Social Democratic Party maintained its position while the Civic Democrats improved their standing slightly by one point to 21.1%. Preference for the Communist Party and Public Affairs fell by one point in each case, and no other party made it over the 5% threshold required for seats in Parliament. SANEP says that the poll shows that the right-wing parties have maintained considerable popularity and trust in the month and a half since elections were held.
The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of a young woman whose child was taken from her by the courts soon after birth. The ruling stated that the lower courts had not provided clear rationale for why the child had been put into institutionalised care. The mother had apparently had a conflict with hospital personnel after failing to attend prenatal checkups and refused to deal with state authorities or use modern means of communication. The Constitutional Court stated on Wednesday that the actions of the lower court had been excessive, as the mother was not given the chance to prove that she would be capable of caring for the child. The child has now been in institutional care for roughly a year and a circuit court will now decide whether she can be permanently entrusted to the care of her mother.
The Chinese city of Huzhou has expressed interest in purchasing the Czech pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai, the Czech Press Agency has reported. The prefecture-level city of roughly 2.5 million apparently wants to cover all costs to relocate the building to a lakeside municipal zone, where it would stand at the centre of a tourist area. No price has been confirmed. The Czech pavilion has been among the more popular sites at the Shanghai expo, with 3.7 million people having visited it so far, or 13 percent of the total number of visitors.
English words and phrases may be introduced in primary schools the coming years in other subjects. Experts from the Education Department of Brno’s Masaryk University are currently preparing a test project that would use English terminology in such classes as maths or geography. Teachers in trial schools will begin trying out the idea from September. The project was made possible by a 15 million crown grant from European funds and will involve 130 teachers and 2000 pupils from three regions of the Czech Republic.
The Prague committee of TOP 09 has unanimously approved former head of the central bank Zdeňek Tůma to lead the party’s ballot list in local elections this fall. The position at the top of the ballot effectively makes Mr Tůma the party’s candidate for mayor of Prague. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, also of TOP 09, also said that he counts on the former bank governor to sit on his economic team. Zdeňek Tůma served as governor of the Czech National Bank from 2000 until June of this year, more than half a year before the end of his term of office.
Jíři Lobkowicz has told the Czech Press Agency that he opposes plans to sell Lobkowicz Palace to the German state or exchange it for another building. The Lesser Town palace currently houses the German embassy in Prague. Last year, Berlin made it clear that it would like to purchase the building and give the Czech Republic the former seat of the U.S. embassy in Berlin, which is now unused; the current Czech embassy in Berlin is in need of refurbishment. Mr Lobkowicz’s noble family considered the 18th century palace its primary seat until 1927, when it was acquired by the Czechoslovak state. He said that he understood that in modern history, especially in 1989, it became a place that went down into the memory of thousands of Germans fleeing to the West, however, history neither started nor ended in 1989.
The organisers of Tuesday’s concert of the American singer Pink in Prague’s Synot Tip Arena may pay a fine for exceeding noise limits. The Prague Hygienic Station said it registered noise levels 20 decibels higher than the permissible daytime rate, and the organising company, Live Nation, could thereby face a of hundreds of thousands of crowns. The station is also filing an administrative lawsuit against the venue itself, as it is zoned only as a sports stadium. The owners of the stadium have not commented on the matter. Live Nation has been fined 200,000 crowns for noise level violations at concerts of Madonna and Depeche Mode.