Education Minister Josef Dobeš tendered his resignation to Prime Minister
Petr Nečas on Friday. He said he had already informed President Václav
Klaus of his decision and would be leaving his post at the end of the
month. Mr. Dobeš, a minister for the junior Public Affairs party, cited
budget cuts as the main reason behind his decision but there has been
speculation that he was leaving office to save face rather than being
dismissed for incompetence by the prime minister.
Mr Dobeš is one of the most contentious members of the government, having been criticized for mismanagement of EU funds, a botched university reform and most recently his decision to extend the accreditation of the Plzeň faculty of law, a decision he was technically not entitled to make. He is the eighth minister to leave the current government.
A wire tap in which the controversial lobbyist and powerful construction entrepreneur Roman Janoušek tells a Prague City Hall employee to shut his eyes to problems related to dodgy construction projects has been published by the daily Mladá fronta dnes. In the conversation, a senior town hall figure discusses the reconstruction of the Palmovka metro station with Mr. Janoušek, who responds to the city hall employee’s concerns regarding the controversial project with the advice to “look away”. At the time of the recording, Mr. Janoušek was in charge of mayor Pavel Bém’s trips abroad and arranged meetings with politicians for him. According to the daily, the lobbyist had great influence on all City Hall employees and also on their budget decisions.
According to the website of the daily Lidovky, police have started investigating the latest wire tap scandal. Police president Petr Lessy confirmed on Friday that the police was analyzing the content of the recordings as well as trying to trace how they were leaked from the country’s intelligence service. No one has yet been charged in connection with the case.
In related news, Roman Janoušek got into a car accident in Prague briefly before noon on Friday. After crashing into a car in Prague’s Michle neighborhood, Mr. Janoušek also ran over the 51-year-old driver of the vehicle he collided with, leaving her lying seriously injured on the road. Police caught up with him shortly after. According to media reports, the lobbyist had a blood alcohol level of 2.2 promille at the time of the accident. The woman is currently being treated in the intensive care unit of Prague's Motol hospital. Police have charged the lobbyist with several acts of crime and are investigating the case.
The Prague chapter of the Civic Democrats, of which former Prague mayor Pavel Bém is a member, is set to meet on Monday to discuss the wire tap scandal. Current Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said on Friday that he would not comment on the affair until after the meeting on Monday. Mr. Svoboda was not a member of the city hall administration or the Civic Democrats at the time when the wire taps were recorded.
Union representatives walked out of Friday’s tripartite meeting with
government officials and employers after only two hours calling the
government’s austerity measures anti-social and unacceptable. Prime
Minister Petr Nečas has labeled the step a “theater performance” and
said that the unions had already entered the negotiations with the
government and employer associations planning to leave them prematurely.
contrast, he praised the constructive attitude of employer organizations.
The unions have announced a major demonstration to take place on April 21. The government is planning to reduce the state budget deficit as planned despite the fact that economic forecasts for this year are worse than anticipated and has approved additional austerity measures of a total of 23.6 billion Czech crowns.
In related news, transport unions are prepared to go on strike in protest of the government’s austerity measures and reforms. They announced that the strike would be more massive than last year’s transport strike in June. The head of the railway workers’ union Jaroslav Pejša said that the transport standstill would last for two hours and be much more noticeable than last year, when only some trams and metros ceased operating during the strike.
Italian film maker Nanni Moretti and French actress Sandrine Bonnaire were presented with the Kristian awards for their contribution to world cinematography at the gala opening of the 19th Febiofest International Film Festival in Prague on Thursday. Another prize, named after the late Czech film maker Jaromil Jires and awarded by the film makers and screen writers´ association for non-commercial achievements, went to the Czech Fund of Cinematography, for co-financing a TV cycle about the 1960s as the golden era of Czech Cinema. The festival will offer 400 screenings of more than 180 films from 55 countries.
Austrian and Czech police have busted a gang of Czech robbers on Friday, near the Austrian Freistadt. On Thursday, a 28-year-old Czech had tried to rob a bank in the nearby Rainbach and was arrested. In the night from Thursday to Friday, police also managed to arrest the leader of the gang, a 44-year-old Czech from Frymburk.
Criminal police have solved a murder case that happened 15 years ago in Brno. The murderer, who is now aged 39, was identified thanks to finger prints that he had left at the scene of the crime. The victim, a 21-year-old woman, was a prostitute. The man has admitted to the crime, which does not fall under the statute of limitations. He is currently under arrest and awaiting his trial.