The leadership of the junior coalition party, Public Affairs, is divided
over whether to support a church restitution deal that has become a
condition for the continuation of the government. A secret vote of the
party leadership on Tuesday morning ended 5:5 and the party is meeting
again to try to resolve the dispute. The senior coalition parties, the
Civic Democrats and TOP 09, strongly rejected the junior party’s
conditions on the deal on Monday, saying that failure to support the
agreement would damage the government’s credibility and amount to a
violation of the coalition agreement. Public Affairs has attempted to
condition their support for the deal on the integration of certain
ministries which would save the necessary funds, saying that tax-payers
should not be made to shoulder the burden.
The government reached a deal last year with the country’s churches to return 56% of property confiscated by the communist regime in the 1950s; in reimbursement for the rest, they should receive 59 billion crowns plus inflation over a period of 30 years.
Prague councillors have appealed to the Finance Ministry and state representatives to act on the public initiative to rename Prague’s international airport after the late president Vaclav Havel. The initiative, launched by film producer Fero Fenič shortly after Mr. Havel’s death has received support from the late president’s family and the respective petition has been signed by 80.000 people to date. Prague City Hall supports the proposal, but has said it is not in a position to see it through since Ruzyně Airport is not city but state property. The state-owned company that runs Prague’s international airport has already registered the Vaclav Havel International Airport trademark ahead of a possible name change. The finance minister has promised to table the issue at the next cabinet meeting.
Oleksander Tymoshenko, husband of the jailed former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic last week, said he had left the country to escape growing persecution. In an interview for Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian broadcast Mr. Tymoshenko said he intended to fight the Yanukovich regime from Prague and coordinate the activities of various Ukrainian exile groups. Oleksander Tymoshenko is the second Ukrainian national whom the Czech Republic has granted political asylum in the past 12 months. Last year it granted an asylum request from a former economics minister in the Tymoshenko cabinet. The former prime minister herself was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office in what the EU denounced as a politically-motivated trial.
The government wants to reduce the administrative burden for businesses by 30 percent by 2014, as compared to the situation in 2005, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Tuesday, adding that a series of measures would reduce administrative costs by 22 billion crowns a year. Mr. Nečas said that in 2005 administrative costs reached 73.7 billion crowns and his government had managed to lower them to 62.2 billion in 2010. The costs should drop to 51.5 billion in 2014 when his government´s election period ends.
The climate in the Czech Republic will undergo a marked change by the end of the century, becoming drier and much warmer, the business daily Hospodarské noviny reported on Tuesday, citing a scientific study on local climate development. The study was undertaken by 50 climatologists from the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University over a period of five years. Using statistics and climate modelling, they concluded that summers at the end of this century will be up to four degrees Centigrade warmer than at present. The study predicts that the average temperature in the Czech Republic will increase by one degree Centigrade in the next thirty years. Extreme draughts will torment the country almost every second year.
Czech farmers appear to have made a record-high profit of around 15 billion crowns in 2011, according to preliminary estimates released by the Czech Statistical Office. If the figure is confirmed, the result will be the best since 1998. In 2010, Czech farmers made profit worth just 7.7 billion crowns. 2011 was a good year for farmers, both in terms of a good harvest and prices on the market. The rise in profit is also attributed to the fact that there is a growing tendency among farmers to shift towards vegetable production, which saves labour costs.
The main suspect in the biggest cash robbery in the country’s history has been tried in absentia and sentenced to 9 years in prison. The Municipal Court of Prague on Tuesday found František Procházka, who is believed to have fled the country, guilty of stealing more than 500 million crowns from the G4S security agency. Procházka’s accomplice, Milan Čermák, who was arrested in early 2008 with several million crowns in cash also received a nine year sentence, despite pleading innocent. Police provided evidence linking him to the vehicle used in the theft.
A Prague court has sent a thirty-two-year-old man to seven years in jail for a brutal attack on two teenagers. The fourteen-year-old boy and twelve-year-old girl were kissing in a park when the man unexpectedly attacked them with an iron rod. The boy suffered fractures and the girl head injuries and severe shock. The man claimed not to remember the incident, saying that he suffered from schizophrenia and moreover drank and took drugs. He faced a maximum 12 years in jail for inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Tomio Okamura has stepped down as spokesman for the Association of Czech Travel Agencies. He will retain the post of the association’s honorary vice-chairman. Mr. Okamura made the decision in view of a career change. He confirmed that he was seriously considering entering politics. There has been speculation that Mr. Okamura could run for a seat in the Senate and his name has likewise been linked to a possible presidential candidacy.
Heavy, wet snow is creating problems for people living in the mountain regions, particularly the Liberec region in the north of the country. Fallen trees and branches are complicating both rail and car traffic and energy companies report frequent power failures as a result of trees bringing down power lines. Drivers heading for the mountains have been warned to drive carefully and count on possible delays.