Police president Oldřich Martinů met with President Václav Klaus on
Wednesday morning in the wake of a call from the Minister of Interior for
the country’s top policeman to quit his post. Mr. Martinů said he took
it as a very significant signal that the head of state had found time to
talk to him about his future as chief of the Czech police and said he would
take it into account when considering his future. He added that he came
away from the meeting with a very good feeling.
Interior Minister Radek John asked the police president to leave his post at a press conference in Prague on Monday. He said he was highly dissatisfied with the way the country’s elite police units were functioning and criticized the police president for failing to prevent information leaks from the presidium. The public announcement came hot on the heels of last week’s resignation of Martinu’s chief deputy, Viktor Čech who cited “long-lasting discord between the country’s elite police units” as the reason behind his departure. Prime Minister Petr Nečas responded by saying he wanted a meeting with all parties involved and criticized the interior minister for not consulting about the matter with him in advance. A meeting between the prime minister and police chief is expected at the start of next week.
Figures from the European Union’s statistics office have put Prague and the Czech Republic in the top European ten locations for murders. The EU statistical office puts the country and capital Prague in seventh place out of the 27-strong EU for the numbers of murders as a proportion of the population with a figure of three murders per 100,000 people. Prague and the rest of the country trail the EU’s murder capital, Lithuanian city Vilnius, with 8.28 murders per 100,000 and second placed Estonian capital Tallinn with 6.04 murders per 100,000 as well as the EU capital itself, Brussels, with 3.2 murders per 100,000.
Top historians have attacked a government backed proposal to give recognition to opponents of the Czechoslovak communist regime as bordering on totally unconsidered. Around 40 historians, including the founder and current director of the Institute for Contemporary History, say the senate proposal backed by the current coalition government raises serious doubts about its workability and gives the impression that it is just part of a moral game. The proposal is for those who can prove to have opposed communism to be given the status of war veterans. Historians point out that the distinction drawn between opponents and participants in the struggle as artificial. They add that many documents, such as KGB, archives are not open and cannot be used to verify claims. This, they warn, makes it likely that officials and not facts will determine who is given recognition.
The Social Democrat deputy chairwoman of the Senate has warned that it could reject an EU treaty onto which is attached the Czech president’s demand for an opt out from the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. Senator Alena Gajdůšková highlighted the risk on Wednesday saying that the exemption was simply unacceptable because it would mean Czechs had weaker rights than other EU citizens. President Václav Klaus demanded the opt out as a condition for his signing the EU’s reforming Lisbon treaty. He said it was necessary to prevent claims from Germans expelled from the former Czechoslovakia under the Beneš decrees at the end of WWII. The treaty took effect a year ago but the opt out has still to be delivered. It could probably be attached to a new accession treaty allowing Croatia to join the EU-27. The Social Democrats gained a majority in the upper house at the last elections.
Heavy snowfall complicated traffic in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The main D1 motorway between Prague and Brno was blocked following an accident involving five cars during the afternoon. Around 10 centimetres of snow fell during the day with another 20 centimetres possible overnight and on Thursday. Many lorries were left stranded at the sides of roads. High winds caused snow drifts in places.
Twenty-two more people died on Czech roads during November than during the same moth in 2009 according to police figures. Eighty-one people were killed during road accidents in November, taking the total since the start of the year to 702. The Ministry of Transport at the start of the year set out the target of cutting road deaths this year to under 650. Police say many deaths and accidents continue to be caused by drinking alcohol. For example, on Saturday November 20 21 drunken drivers were involved in accidents.
The local branch of anticorruption watchdog Transparency International challenged the Czech government on Wednesday to step its fight against corruption within the Czech judicial system and increase its independence. The watchdog called specifically for people tainted by cooperation with political lobbyists and incompetent interference in the criminal system to be sacked. Steps to follow up the dismissal of compromised Supreme State Prosecutor Renata Vesecká needed to be taken the organisation said. The supreme prosecutor has been tarnished by accusations she failed to take action against top politicians such as former Christian Democrat Jiří Čunek. Transparency International also recommends the creation of a supreme judicial council which would be responsible for the smooth functioning and independence of the judiciary.
Tens of billions of crowns in possible European Union funds for Czech schools, universities and research institutions continue to be at risk because European officials have still to be convinced that the Czech Republic has adequate resources to manage programmes, Czech Radio reported on Wednesday. The broadcaster quoted officials saying they were following the situation closely but believed there was still a high risk concerning the Czech situation. The Ministry of Education which is responsible for pumping these European funds shed a series of key start when the new Education Minister Josef Dobeš took charge earlier this year but the ministry says the gaps have been filled. The minister has highlighted the EU funds of up to 120 billion crowns as crucial to meet spending plans. A meeting between EU and Czech officials has been planned for the start of December.
The Czech Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority has begun checks at wine retailers on whether a top Czech wine producer has fulfilled demands it withdraw 2009 vintage sales from store shelves. Templářské sklepy Čejkovice was given the instruction to remove more than a million litres of wine from sale after it was found to have used unknown grapes along with its own production. The wine producer has challenged the inspectorate’s moves and threatened legal action against it. The state food and drinks authority says the case could compromise its success in recent years in helping Czech wines win a better reputation for quality.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has been voted the newcomer of the year by the organising body of women’s tennis, the WTA. The 20-year-old enjoyed a run to the semi-finals of Wimbledon this year after previously never having won a competitive game on grass. She also broke into the women’s top 30 rankings. The player of the year was Belgian Kim Clijsters.