Czechs commemorate the end of the Second World War on Wednesday, a public holiday in the Czech Republic. Events marking Liberation Day are held across the country; President Miloš Zeman marked the anniversary at Prague’s Vítkov Hill where a military parade was held. The event was attended by other Czech officials including Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the speaker of the lower house, Miroslava Němcová, the defence minister, the chief of the Czech Army’s general staff, and the head of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Dominik Duka. President Zeman will also appoint new generals of the Czech Army on Wednesday. The Czech Parliament as well as the country’s Foreign Ministry hold an open day on Wednesday, allowing visitors to view the interiors of the buildings.
Czech President Miloš Zeman appointed five new army generals on Wednesday, on the occasion of Liberation Day. The new generals include the head of the Czech army intelligence service, Karel Kovanda, commander of the army’s joint forces Ján Gurník, commander of the ground forces Ladislav Jung, the rector of the Defence University Bohuslav Přikryl, and chief of the Military Police, Milan Schulc.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has criticized Israeli airstrikes on Syria and the country’s settlements plans in the West Bank. In an interview for the news website Times of Israel released on Tuesday night, Mr Schwarzenberg called plans to build settlements in the controversial E1 area “obnoxious”; the Czech foreign minister also said he would nit express support for Israeli airstrikes on weapon convoys in Syria, and never sanction a potential Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr Schwarzenberg’s remarks are the first strong criticism of Israeli policies coming from a Czech government minister as the country is considered one of Israel’s major allies within the EU.
Switzerland’s Attorney General Michal Lauber has appreciated a change in
attitude by the Czech authorities in investigating alleged corruption in
the 1998 privatization of the mining company MUS. In an interview for the
daily Le Temps on Wednesday, Mr Lauber said that following political
changes in early 2012, his office registered a genuine will of the Czech
authorities to progress in the case. Until the end of 2011, the Czech
Republic did everything to make things more difficult for Swiss
prosecution, Mr Lauber said.
Swiss and Czech authorities raised charges of corruption against former managers of the firm; they face accusations that they privatized the firm using money earmarked for environmental projects. A trial against the accused is set to begin in Switzerland on Monday.
T-Mobile, the Czech Republic’s largest mobile phone operator, on Wednesday posted a 14.3-percent annual decrease in its earnings before interest, tax, depreciating and amortization, or EBITDA, in the first quarter of this year. The margin reached 2.65 billion crowns. T-Mobile’s revenues decreased by nearly ten percent while the number of the firm’s clients rose by around 4 percent, and reached 5.6 million. In a statement, the firm said the results reflected trends registered in the previous periods, such as further development of data services, lower average spending by clients as well as higher consumption of telecommunications services.
Members of the legendary Czech rock band Olympic have announced the band will continue to play despite the death of their drummer. In a statement released on Facebook on Wednesday, Olympic said they would continue with three members while the drummer will be filled by various musicians. Olympic formed in the late 1960s, and has since released nearly 20 albums. Drummer Milan Peroutka, who joined the band in 1986, died on Sunday at the age of 49.
The US film Consuming Spirits by Chris Sullivan has won the main award at the Anifilm International Festival of Animated Films in Třeboň. The prize for best children’s movie was awarded to the French-Belgian film The Day of the Crows while the animated documentary Father received the award for best short film. The Anifilm festival, which concludes in the south Bohemian town Třeboň on Wednesday, has been held for the third time this year.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych defeated Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 at the Madrid Masters on Wednesday to reach the tournament’s third round. The sixth-seeded Czech had a difficult start to the match but made few errors in the second and third set, claiming victory in two hours and 15 minutes. Berdych will next play the winner of a rubber between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Juan Mónaco of Argentina.
In a 50-minute address to the lower house of the Czech Parliament on Tuesday, President Miloš Zeman said that a system to support solar power had amounted to the greatest robbery in the history of the Czech state. He said “solar barons” had cheated the state out of around CZK 200 billion and called for a commission to look into the background to the scheme, which has been scaled back considerably. In his first speech to the Chamber of Deputies, the head of state also discussed the issue of Czech envoys, over which he is locked in a dispute with the minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg; he said the cause of the disagreement was his support for what he called “economy diplomacy” and made a number of digs at Mr. Schwarzenberg, who he defeated in January’s presidential election.
A lawyer at the centre of a dispute over who prepared an amnesty declared by former president Václav Klaus has said he will not attend a meeting that the minister of justice called with a view to clearing up the matter. Pavel Hasenkopf, who current president Miloš Zeman says co-drafted the document, said he had no reason to participate in a meeting with the media organised by Minister Pavel Blažek. Mr. Hasenkopf, a one-time advisor to Mr. Zeman’s predecessor, denies being behind a controversial section of the amnesty that halted the prosecution of several long-running cases, many involving alleged large-scale corruption in the privatisation era. Mr. Klaus has repeatedly said that he is the sole author of the amnesty.