A series of organisations have called for criminal proceedings to be launched against the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia after it highlighted the “revolutionary legacy“ of February 25, 1948. That was the day when president Edvard Beneš agreed to form a government dominated by the communists after the withdrawal of democratic parties. The move started almost 40 years of one party domination. The comments were made by the party in a press release which added that the former communist regime had not been properly assessed by historians. The demand for criminal proceeds has been backed by the Confederation of Political Prisoners, the grouping Post Bellum, and the Association of Former Political Prisoners amongst others.
Backing for a controversial makeover of the Czech holiday on November 17th commemorating the start of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 has been given by lawmakers. The holiday, traditionally called the day of fighting for freedom and democracy, will also get the prefix International Students’ Day under a proposal backed by the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. A similar attempt to rename the holiday proposed by the communist party failed two years ago. The proposed name change has been criticized by leaders of opposition parties. Leader of the TOP 09 party Miroslav Kalousek said the communists had succeeded in partially reverting the name back to its pre-1989 format. The change still has to be approved by the Senate and president.
The lower house of parliament has approved changes to the rules for state support for the film industry. Under the changes, the state would ensure around 180million to 200 million crowns a year in incentives. Claim for the funds, which would also be used to support the screening and promotion of Czech films at home and abroad, can also be made throughout the year instead of at the start as under the current system.
A Prague court ruled Wednesday that President Miloš Zeman should apologise for comments suggesting that the renowned Czech journalist Ferdinand Peroutka wrote an article in which he described Adolf Hitler as a gentleman. The head of state has maintained he read the article though a thorough search of archives by his staff have been unable to uncover it. The call for an apology was brought was Peroutka’s descendants. The president’s office said later that it would appeal the court ruling.
American performer Iggy Pop will headline a new music festival in Prague called Metronome to take place on June 25 and 26. Over two days, more than 30 musical acts will perform on four stages at part of the city’s Stromovka Park and Výstaviště fairgrounds. Details were announced on Wednesday by the festival’s David Gaydečka. Czech groups or musicians to take part include J.A.R., accompanied by special guests Ivan Král and Jiří Suchý.
The Czech Republic would not be able to furnish the troops and soldiers expected to support allies in the case of an emergency, according to a February evaluation by the alliance’s Defense Policy and Planning Committee, the ČTK agency reported Wednesday. A shortage of trained soldiers and equipment would cause the shortfall, the report said. Poland, alone among Central and East European countries, was praised for living up to its commitments. The report did however praise the Czech government for the pledge to raise defence spending to 1.4 percent of GDP.
Europe’s anti-corruption squad OLAF has begun to probe the circumstances of how a project of ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš was given 50 million crowns, the news server Neovlivní reported on Wednesday. It said the initial investigations by the body found sufficient grounds for a deeper probe into why funds designed for small and medium sized companies for promoting tourism flowed to the massive Agrofert company and its project for a farm on the outskirts of Prague. The farm was later transferred from the group another company solely owned by Babiš.
Dozens of activists and members of the public gathered at an autonomous social centre in the Prague district of Žižkov on Wednesday to counter moves by public authorities to repossess it. The centre was allowed by a state authority to make use of an abandoned building for the last year. Social and cultural events and help to immigrants have been on offer there. The state authority now though wants to take the building back with the local council arguing that its new use conflicts with planning rules and that locals have complained of noise and other disturbance. A march in support of the so-called Klinika centre was supported by 2,000 people at the end of February. The centre was firebombed by masked attackers at the start of last month on the same day that anti-immigrant rallies were being held in Prague.
Around a thousand homes in the Czech Republic remained without electricity on Wednesday morning because of heavy snow. Power company CEZ said a state of calamity was still in place in a number of districts in Central Bohemia and Prague West and Prague East. A spokesperson said thousands of households had originally been affected but the number was now much lower as repair work continues. Meanwhile, several centimetres of fresh snow fell overnight in eastern parts of the country.
The Prague 1 District Court is to begin on Wednesday hearing a case taken by the granddaughter of Ferdinand Peroutka against the Office of the President over comments made by Miloš Zeman. The president said that the revered journalist had written an article entitled “Hitler is a gentleman”. Peroutka’s granddaughter Terezie Kaslová denies this and is demanding an apology. Mr. Zeman has to date failed to produce the article but said he was looking forward to the case, claiming to have documents proving that Peroutka – who was interned in a concentration camp during the war – had succumbed to Nazi ideology.