European Member of Parliament for the Czech Communist Party, Miloslav Ransorf, in financial difficulties, reportedly owes a total of 17 million crowns – loans with interest the politician has failed to repay over a number of years. According to commercial broadcaster TV Nova, a new promissory note originally for 700,000, reportedly now worth 7 million, held by former friend Vratislav Šlajer, has emerged. The original loan dates back to 2003. Mr Ransdorf was to have paid back money owed almost a year ago, but TV Nova said that never happened. Both the politician and his lawyer have declined to comment. According to the news site novinky.cz, the Euro MP used the original 700,000 loan to renovate his villa.
Czech movie star Zita Kabátová, who graced the screen in the 1930s and ‘40s with fellow leads like Oldřich Nový, Vladimír Slavínský and Vlasta Burián, turned 99 on Friday. Ms. Kabátová began acting in amateur theatre as a child; her uncle Josef Šváb–Malostranský was a vaudevillian and actor. She made her professional debut on-screen in 1936 in a sentimental film called Světlo jeho očí (The Colour of his Eyes). Like many fellow actors and actresses of her generation, Ms. Kabátová acted in a number of films under the German occupation; in later years she was banned from the screen for political reasons. Her husband was Jiří Zavřel - an Olympic rower and political prisoner under the Communists.
An authentic British double-decker bus has begun touring the Plzeň region, part of a campaign launched last year by the Czech Olympic Committee to generate additional interest ahead of the Olympic Games. The bus has already visited some 50 towns and cities across the country, spending a day at each stop and inviting passersby to experience a bit of London.
Motorists attempting to leave the capital ahead of the weekend on the D1 highway have run into heavy traffic. A ten-kilometre-long line on late Friday afternoon – caused by construction and a narrowing of lanes some 11 kilometres out – formed at Prague’s Chodov. Alternative routes are also heavily in use. Traffic on the D1 in the opposite direction is said to be moving normally.
Legendary jockey, Josef Váňa, is recovering from an operation after breaking his leg on Thursday in a fall in training. According to doctors, the racer – who has won the Pardubice steeplechase eight times – should take at least a half-year break; but on Friday on a Czech website, the jockey himself said he hoped to be back in the saddle within a month at the latest. On Thursday, Mr Váňa was thrown by a mare known as Dancing Babe – a more ‘problematic’ horse in his stable, the website idnes stated.
Candidates for president will be able to spend a maximum of 50 million crowns on their presidential campaign; 40 million in the first round of elections and ten million more in the second round, according to an agreement reached between the ruling parties and the opposition Social Democrats. Information regarding the amount spent and the source of the money should be available on the internet. A proposal by the Social Democrats to set a ceiling on donations from sponsors failed to win approval. Czechs are due to vote in direct presidential elections early next year. President Klaus’ second term in office will expire in March 2013.
The Senate has rejected a bill that would have stripped senators, deputies and constitutional court judges of life-long immunity to prosecution. Under the proposed legislation their immunity would have ended together with their term in office. Under the present law the officials in question can be charged and tried on condition that the lower or upper chamber votes to strip them of their immunity. The upper chamber makes the decision regarding constitutional court judges.
The Czech Helsinki Committee says that in the past decade anti-Roma sentiment in the country has risen by 15 percent. Petr Uhl a member of the committee said that according to various polls and studies anti-Roma sentiment among Czechs had risen from 60 to 75 percent in the last decade. He said the negative attitude towards the Roma minority was a contributing factor to the steady decline in the living standard of Romanies and was straining relations between the majority population and the Roma. Mr. Uhl praised the work of individuals and NGOs working to change this.
The head of the Association of Romanies’ Vladimir Glabavy has called on the Czech government to appoint a Romany rights commissioner. Mr. Glabavy said the commissioner should have a strong mandate and cooperate with the government agency for social inclusion in helping to resolve the minority’s growing problems.
Police president Petr Lessy is under increasing pressure from Interior Minister Jan Kubice who is questioning the manner in which the police president was selected for the post. Lessy was appointed to the post by a special committee set up by Mr. Kubice’s predecessor Radek John of Public Affairs whose party recently joined the opposition. Since there is no mechanism under which the police president can be recalled, Mr. Kubice is casting doubt on the selection process which brought him to office. The opposition Social Democvrats say this is a dangerous procedure since it might cast doubt on the validity of the decisions Mr. Lessy made in office.