The Chamber of Deputies passed the government´s bill on a property
settlement between the state and the Church in a first reading on Tuesday
depsite opposition from the political left. The Social Democrats announced
earlier that they would not curb contributions to the debate in any way,
leading to speculation that discussion on the bill could last well past
midnight. The party's deputies' group chairman Jeroným Tejc said the bill
on church property restitution required extraordinary debate during a
period of economic crisis. In the end, the bill was approved earlier than
Under the proposal, 17 Czech churches and religious societies will receive 56 percent of the physical property that was confiscated by the communist regime in the 1950s worth around 75 billion crowns. For the rest, the churches would receive 59 billion crowns over a period of 30 years. The leftist opposition has challenged both the volume of the property to be returned and the compensation sum.
The Czech Office for Personal Data Protection has issued a statement on its website saying that ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) was unbalanced regarding existing legal guarantees of individual rights. In the view of the office, the agreement determined new powers, including repressive tools, in unclear terms, one reason why the bureau will continue to monitor the issue. On Monday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said the government will suspend ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Responding to a wave of protests in the Czech Republic and elsewhere, the Prime Minister said that the government would not allow a situation where civic freedoms and free access to information would be threatened and added that the government will still analyse the issue and its potential impact on daily life.
Fresh snowfall and freezing temperatures have continued to complicate conditions on Czech roads. Tuesday morning saw an eight-car pile-up on the D1 highway between Brno and Ostrava, in which two people suffered light injuries. Ostrava has seen daytime temperatures of -15 degrees Celsius. Problems have also been reported on the D1 between Brno and the Czech capital: five cars, also on Tuesday, were involved in a crash near Benešov in which two people were also hurt. Motorists have been advised to exercise caution. Arctic temperatures in the Czech Republic are expected to last for another two weeks.
The newly established Otakar Motejl Fund, named after the country’s popular first ombudsman who died in 2010, will finance a number of projects this year in the battle against corruption, the fund’s Jiří Knitl has told reporters. Six-and-a-half million crowns is to be allocated among different groups; of that 2.6 million are to be divided among five NGOs, including the Czech branch of Transparency International. Small associations pushing for local town halls to provide the public with relevant information may seek contributions from another 1.3 million crowns. The fund will also reportedly sponsor the Environmental Law Service, the Revival group, Iuridicum Remedium and the Human Rights League, he said.
The country’s Education Ministry wanted to use EU funds for promotional
purposes, Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. Items were
have been used to promote a project known as ‘VIP’, developing
consultancy services at Czech schools. According to MF Dnes, the campaign
was to have been split into two parts, with 967,000 crowns going towards
‘publicity’ and 1.1 million to have been allotted for promotional
items, which also included items such as cups, keychain tags and
The shadow education minister for the opposition Social Democrats, Marcel
Chládek, meanwhile, told the newspaper the order may have been split in
order to circumvent the law: currently tenders are required in all
costing more than two million crowns. In response, the ministry has
stressed that plans for the campaign had been abolished. The new head of
the project allegedly did not know details of the plan and cancelled it
immediately once informed.
The European Commission recently criticised the management of Czech projects and drawing of subsidies from the Education for Competitiveness Operational Programme. The EC´s auditors found mistakes in public procurement and the commission has suspended the payment of 1.2 billion crowns in subsidies. The ministry faces the threat of the whole project – worth 53 billion crowns in funding – being stopped.
The Ferdinand Peroutka Award for journalism was awarded to three veteran reporters Monday evening in the pantheon of the National Museum. Jaroslav Spurný, an investigative reporter for the weekly Respekt, has dealt extensively with issues of arms dealing, corruption and clientelism. Radka Kvačková is a journalist of 45 years and writes primarily on education for the daily Lidové noviny. Jan Bednář worked in exile for the Czechoslovak service of the BBC and now deals with foreign politics for Czech Radio 6. The Ferdinand Peroutka Award is given annually to journalists who exemplify integrity and take personal responsibility for the social ramifications of their work.
Social Democrat MP Petr Jalowiczor, only 38 years old, died following long illness, the speaker of the lower house Miroslava Němcová announced on Tuesday during the session in the Chamber of Deputies. Mr Jalowiczor represented the region of Moravia-Silesia and was a member of the agricultural committee. His mandate will likely be taken up by fellow Social Democrat Břetislav Petr.
Silver treasure, including coins, tableware and other items dating back to the rule of Václav IV and Vladislav II but also to Tsarist Russia and Czechoslovakia’s First Republic will remain property of the capital and will be overseen by Prague City Museum. The items, hidden either during World War II or shortly afterward, will be added it to its collection, city councilors decided on Tuesday. The decision comes three years after the treasure was found in a building in Smíchov during repairs. Three Ukrainian workers uncovered the items and will receive a reward of 200,000 crowns each. The city posted a notice for former owners to come forward but no one did.
The Czech Society for Ornithology announced the Wood Grouse as the Bird of the Year for 2012, in the Czech Republic found only in the area of Šumava, specifically Šumava National Park. The head of the society, Zdeněk Vermouzek, stated that the fate of the threatened bird depended on lawmakers due to decide on the future of the protected area. Members voted in favour of the Wood Grouse to bring added attention to controversial plans which could damage the local environment, including a planned ski area. Around 300 specimens of the bird nest in the park.
Centre-forward Martin Hanzal scored twice and fellow player Radim Vrbata earned an assist in NHL action on Monday to help the Phoenix Coyotes defeat the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. The Coyotes are second-to-last in their division in the National Hockey League and 19th out of 30 teams; by contrast the Red Wings are at the top of the standings. Hanzal’s first goal came in the 27th minute and his second late in the game – an empty-netter – as Detroit pulled their goalie for the extra skater. Phoenix had lost to Detroit in their last seven outings.