His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in Prague on Saturday ahead of this year’s Forum 2000. The Tibetan spiritual leader last visited two years ago, shortly before the death of former president Václav Havel, with whom he was close friends. On Saturday afternoon the Dalai Lama is scheduled to speak at one of the city’s arenas on the subjects of kindness and mutual respect. Forum 2000, bringing together more than 100 world leaders, now in its 17th year, officially begins on Sunday. Along with the Dalai Lama, notable guests this year include the Burmese winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi and former president of South Africa, also a holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, Frederik de Klerk.
The Czech Republic’s state debt rose by 10.5 billion crowns in the first half of 2013, reaching an overall total of more than 1.6 trillion. Broken down, the share of the debt per citizen comes to almost 160 thousand, the Finance Ministry confirmed. According to ministry forecasts, the state debt will rise to 1.8 trillion by the end of next year and 1.9 trillion by the end of 2015.
The controversial political “lobbyist” Miroslav Šlouf who was to head
the Citizens’ Rights Party - Zemanites’ Prague ballot in October’s
general elections has been scratched off the party’s candidates’ list.
Mr. Šlouf himself admitted that he had been replaced as Prague leader
following a stormy meeting of the party leadership on Thursday night. He
said he would consult lawyers about the move. In a press briefing on its
election candidates on Friday, the party stated that outgoing Transport
Minister Zdeněk Žák will be Prague election leader.
A one-time chief political advisor to President Miloš Zeman, Miroslav Šlouf did not want to comment but, according to the Czech News Agency, called the party leadership “fools”. Mr Šlouf remains a highly controversial figure – a former communist believed to have enormous influence and connections to the underworld who has been linked to many political scandals and shady deals. Although he is credited with Mr. Zeman’s election victory, the president has publicly distanced himself from his former advisor.
Former prime minister and ex-chairman of the Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek announced on Friday that he will not run in the upcoming election although he will fully back his party, LEV 21. Mr Paroubek charged that public media attention given to his party had been scant, adding the party had only raised a third of funds needed for a proper election campaign. He did his praise LEV 21 for well-prepared candidates’ lists. Unlike other politicians who have launched election campaigns in recent days, Mr Paroubek has suggested that the elections will do little to improve current conditions. LEV 21 had two MPs in the lower house, both former Social Democrats; polls aren’t giving the small party much chance of getting into the Chamber of Deputies.
Descendants of Jan Antonín Baťa -founder of the successful shoe-making empire - have asked Slovakia for millions of euros in compensation for property confiscated under the Beneš Decrees in 1947. The move comes following Baťa’s rehabilitation by Slovakia's courts and a decision to scrap the validity of the 1947 verdict which found him guilty of collaboration with Nazi Germany. The Czechoslovak shoe manufacturer set up four industrial centres in Slovakia and invested in hotels, spa resorts, and real estate. Baťa’s descendants have staked a similar claim in the Czech Republic where they are demanding 56 million crowns in compensation for confiscated property.
The anti-corruption police conducted a raid on Friday at the Prague offices of the weekly Euro and E15 published by Mladá fronta. Those are also home to the printing company Europrint. The spokeswoman for the Police Presidium Eva Kropáčová told the Czech News Agency the investigation had nothing to do with the journalistic side of the business. Nine people were reportedly detained. The police raid could complicate the release of the magazine’s next issue, due on Monday.
The labour ministry has exhausted four-fifths of its budget for people or families in emergencies or crisis this year: 7.5 billion crowns in the first seven months – 1.7 billion more than the same period in 2012. More individuals and families have signed for social benefits or welfare, and unemployment did not improve, the Labour Office’s report notes. This year, more funds went to the unemployed and the handicapped.
Police in Prague are investigating alleged tampering with a car elevator at a Prague apartment building which may be a case of attempted murder. Alena Vitásková, the head of the country’s Energy Regulatory Office, who has regularly received death threats, expressed no doubt that someone had tried to take her life by tampering with the elevator to force its collapse. Mrs Vitásková’s partner was caught in the elevator for several hours on Monday. Mrs Vitaskova has had police protection the last half-a-year, after someone on the highway tried to force her car off the road.
A 21-minute Czech film Strach (Little Secret in English) has won one of the main categories at the prestigious LA Shorts Fest 2013. The result automatically pushes the film onto a list of contenders for an Academy Award nomination. Directed by Martin Krejčí, the film was inspired by a highly-publicised incident last year in which a 15-year-old boy claimed he was severely beaten by a group of Romanies after he refused them a cigarette. The incident sparked a wave of anti-Roma sentiment and saw benefits concerts organised to help the alleged victim. Under police questioning, however, it became apparent the boy made up the whole story. In truth, he fell badly on a landing, and made up the story to avoid being punished at home.
Police in Most briefly detained two homeless men on Friday after a passerby witnessed the two boarding a local tram with a dead boar. The men said they had found the animal as road kill near the town’s train station. The police took the carcass away for proper disposal after filing a report, writes Mladá fronta Dnes.