Friends of the late former Czech president Václav Havel have founded the Václav Havel Library Foundation in the United States. Its mission is to promote the late leader’s ideas and his work, as well as the organization of events centered around his literary and political heritage. Among its supporters are the former secretary of state Madeleine Albright as well as former US ambassador to the Czech Republic Craig Stapleton. The first event organized by the new foundation is set to take place in New York City’s Lincoln Center on Monday. The US-based foundation is also planning to collaborate with the Prague Václav Havel Library.
Representatives from the country’s umbrella trade union organization ČMKOS met in Prague on Friday to discuss a nation-wide strike set to take place on May 23rd. Union leaders have said that they may organize an additional union protest event a day prior to the strike. The unions have slammed the government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas for its reform package and far-reaching austerity measures. Last week, union leaders announced that they would no longer be attending tripartite meetings with the current government.
The defense ministers of the Vysegrád 4 group’s countries on Friday met in the Czech city of Litoměřice, where they signed an agreement over the cooperation in matters of military defense within the framework of the European Union. The four countries are planning to form a defense unit with some 3000 members by 2016. Under the new cooperation, soldiers from the group’s countries would be training together and the four nations would combine funds to buy military equipment. Czech Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra said that this step was an important signal that Central European nations are capable of addressing military tasks together. The Vysegrád 4 group is an alliance of four Central European states – Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
In an interview with the London bureau of the news channel CNN, Czech President Václav Klaus said that Euro-zone member states must be allowed to leave the currency. He compared the current situation in Europe to that of Czechoslovakia in the late 1980s, when the communist regime started collapsing. He added that Europe is at a point where it needs radical change instead of partial reforms. Mr Klaus is a known euro-skeptic. He was in London on Thursday to give a lecture.
Police have arrested three suspects in connection with a highly publicized murder-for-hire case in which the former elite police officer Michal Tofl was shot in Brno in June 2010. If found guilty, the three men could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The policeman became the victim of a drive-by shooting; police have not released details of the motive for the murder. However, the director of the police’s organized crime unit, Robert Šlachta, has said that money may have played a role. Allegedly, after leaving the police force, Mr Tofl and some of his former colleagues had formed a gang that blackmailed entrepreneurs in Southern Moravia. The scandal around the former police officer was the subject of intense media attention last year, when allegations of corruption within the Brno economic crimes unit became public.
The leadership of the former junior coalition partner Public Affairs has
called on MPs who have joined the new faction around the party’s former
deputy leader, current Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake, to resign.
Public Affairs has pointed out that in its ethical codex, under which its
MPs got elected to the lower house of Parliament, the party clearly stated
that MPs were not allowed to change their affiliation during their time in
office. On Thursday, the new faction around Peake announced its name,
LIDEM. Its members will begin collecting the signatures necessary to form a
party on Monday.
Peake had left Public Affairs in mid-April, stating that she disliked the style in which the former junior coalition partner presented itself. Her split with the party and the subsequent walk-out of some of its other members cast serious doubt over the future of the government coalition; however, it survived a vote of confidence last week.
The buyer of Frantíšek Kupka’s painting The Shape of Blue, which in April was sold at auction for a record 55.75 million Czech crowns, may not be able to take the piece out of the country. According to the National Heritage Institute, the painting is part of the national heritage and as such cannot be taken out of the Czech Republic. However, the owner of the gallery where the auction took place says he has a document from the same institution which confirms that the Kupka painting is not actually in the national heritage registry. The buyer of the artwork, which was created in 1013, does not reside in the Czech Republic.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the Czech Republic on an official visit in May. According to a source of the Czech News Agency ČTK, Israel’s leader will be travelling with a delegation of several ministers. He is set to meet with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas as well as other members of the Czech cabinet. In April, on occasion of a previous visit of the Israeli prime minister to the Czech Republic, the two leaders had discussed expanding the cooperation between both countries in the areas of research and development as well as in the military and economic sectors.
The director of the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, is in Prague on Friday. He is visiting the Czech Republic on occasion of the 20-year anniversary of the country’s membership in the organization. Mr Heuer will be meeting with ministry officials and holding a scientific lecture in the Karolinum for students and researchers. CERN is the largest laboratory worldwide devoted to elementary particle research. The organization was founded in 1954.
A former public transport worker from Olomouc, Roman Smetana, may soon be released from prison, where he is serving a 100-day sentence for the destruction of public property. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil has filed a complaint in the man’s favor and has appealed to the court to cancel its verdict. He said that it is up to the court to decide whether the defacing of political campaign posters, of which Mr Smetana was found guilty, was a criminal offense or merely a misdemeanor. Mr Smetana was charged with defacing public property for adding feelers to politicians’ photographs on campaign posters. After he refused to pay a fine, he was sent to prison.