A group of 25 MEPs on Wednesday called on top Czech officials to take
action against the destabilization of the country’s Institute for the
Study of Totalitarian Regimes, the news agency ČTK said. In a letter to
the Czech president, prime minister and the head of the Senate, the
deputies expressed their concern over the recent replacement of the
institute’s director, which could lead to the closing down of the
government-sponsored institute, the MEPs said.
Earlier this month, the institute’s overseeing board dismissed its director, Daniel Herman. Critics believe the move was politically motivated by the opposition which wants to change the discourse of the country’s communist past.
Czech judges and attorneys halted the prosecution of 757 people in 415 cases by the end of March on the basis of an amnesty issued in January by then president Václav Klaus, a spokeswoman for the Supreme State Attorney said on Wednesday. Around half of the cases were related to alleged economic crime. The controversial amnesty, which among other things ordered judges and prosecutors to stop cases lasting for more than eight years, came under severe criticism and prompted the Senate to raise high treason charges against then president Václav Klaus at the Czech Constitutional Court.
The Czech Government on Wednesday approved a controversial bill on the Šumava National Park. The draft legislation would, among other things, change the park zones and allow logging in places where it is now prohibited. The bill would also relax the rules for building skiing resorts and hotels. While the Environment Ministry believes the bill would provide better protection for the park against the bark beetle, but critics says it would in effect expose the park’s most precious areas to developers and logging firms.
Around 34 of Czechs want a snap general election, according to a new poll by STEM agency. Meanwhile, 16 percent of those polled said they wanted the current coalition government to continue until the next regular election scheduled for May 2014, and another 12 percent believe the government should continue but changes at some ministerial posts should be made.
The Czech Education Ministry has finalized a draft reform of university education, the news agency ČTK reported. The reform should give universities more autonomy, change the system of their financing and accreditation, and introduce several new fees such as for recognizing degrees earned abroad. The reform will also allow universities to hire experts without the otherwise required academic ranks. The draft reform will now be discussed by university officials. If eventually approved by lawmakers, it could enter into force by mid 2015.
The coalition of the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 group at Prague City Hall is undergoing another major crisis, the news agency ČTK reported on Wednesday. Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, of the Civic Democrats, abruptly ended Tuesday’s session of the council over disputes concerning a planned restructuring of the city hall. Council members for TOP 09 threatened to leave the coalition, and said they would announce their decision by Friday.
Czech Post on Wednesday began distribution new stamps with the portrait of President Miloš Zeman. The president’s portrait on the stamp was based on a photograph by Herbert Slavík. Czech Post has so far produced 10 million pieces of the new stamp which is worth 10 crowns. Previously, it had produced 94 million presidential stamps with the portrait of Václav Klaus, and 260 million with Václav Havel's image.
Czech model Eva Herzigová gave birth to her third son, the news website idnes.cz reported. The boy, named Edward, was born in London on Sunday, an associate of the 40-year-old model told the website. Eva Herzigová and her partner, Gregorio Marsaij, already have two sons, five-year-old George and two-year-old Phillip. Eva Herzigová started her modelling career in 1989, and has worked for Dior, Chanel, Victoria’s Secret and other brands.
A court in Prague on Wednesday sentenced a 31-year-old man to 8.5 years in prison for setting a high-rise apartment building on fire. The court said that in February 2012, the man set fire to the door of an apartment where his ex-girlfriend was staying with three children. The fire destroyed the flat; the woman with the children was rescued by fire fighters while 25 inhabitants of the building were also evacuated.
The police have caught a man suspected of having stolen some 400 cremations urns from cemeteries in northern Bohemia. The police said the 23-year-repeat offender, who confessed to the crime, emptied the urns and damaged them in order to sell them as scrap metal, causing damages of around 200,000 crowns. The man faces charges of theft and desecration of human remains; if convicted, he could land a five-year sentence.