Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová has said that the Czech police acted improperly in several incidents that happened during the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Prague at the end of March. According to a press release issued on Wednesday, many people were arrested for no apparent reason. The police have been criticised for several incidents, including the removal of Tibetan flags and preventing a demonstration by human rights activists on Hradčanské náměstí which had been approved by Prague City Hall. According to an internal police investigation, they only made one mistake when two officers demanded that Tibetan flags be removed from the windows of Prague’s film and television academy FAMU.
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz paid homage to the late president Vaclav Havel on what would have been his 80th birthday. In a short speech at the start of Wednesday’s parliament session, Mr Schulz highlighted the importance of Václav Havel’s legacy describing him as a strong personality, who devoted his life to the fight against dictatorship. Not only did he free Czechoslovakia from Communist rule, but he also led the Czech Republic on its way to democracy and EU membership.
Forecasters have issued a snow warning for several parts of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute said fresh snow is likely to fall in North Moravia and North Bohemia in areas 1,000 metres above sea level. Up to 30 centimetres of new snow is expected in the Jeseníky Mountains in the north east of the country. The current spell of cold and wet weather has already brought the season’s first snow to most of the country’s mountainous regions.
Greenpeace activists have ended their protest at the brown coal power plant in Chvaletice in north-east Bohemia. Nearly a dozen activists climbed to the top of the plant’s cooling tower on Monday morning to protest against a renovation of the plant which would enable it to remain in operation until the year 2030. The plant is currently shut down due to reconstruction work. A spokeswoman for Severní energetická, which owns the coal plant, said the company was currently assessing potential damages caused by the protest.
The Czech government has approved sending Czech doctors and military instructors to Iraq, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday. The medical unit of the Czech Army could start operating in the country in December 2016, and up to 30 military instructors could be sent to the country next year. The foreign mission still has to be approved by the Parliament. According to Mr Sobotka, it is a part of the Czech Republic’s contribution to the fight against terrorism.
Škoda Auto’s plant in Kvasiny in east Bohemia plans to extend its working week from five to six days due to growing demand for models produced in the facility, starting in January 2017, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday. The plant in Kvasiny manufactures Škoda Superb, Yeti and Seat Ateca and is preparing production of the new SUV Kodiaq. Due to the high demand, Škoda Auto will also supply the European market with cars produced in its plant in Russia.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said he could imagine forming a government with the Communist Party after the next parliamentary elections under certain conditions. In an interview for the daily Hospodářské noviny, Mr Sobotka said cooperation could only take place if the Communists didn’t question the Czech Republic’s membership in NATO and the pro-European orientation of the government. In 1995, the Social Democrats approved a so-called “Bohumín Resolution”, banning cooperation with the Communists at a national level, but the parties have formed coalitions on a regional and municipal level.
The government on Wednesday approved an increase in the minimum monthly wage to 11,000 crowns starting next year, a hike by 1,100 crowns. As of January 2017, employees working for a minimum wage will be paid 66 crowns an hour. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on his Twitter account that the minimum wage should rise even further in the future. The government has pledged in the coalition agreement to gradually increase the lowest salary to around two fifths of the average wage. The minimal wage was introduced in 1991 when it was set at 2,000 Czech crowns. Currently some 3.2 percent of Czechs earn a minimum wage.
Petr Kellner remains the wealthiest Czech, according to an annual rich list published on Wednesday by Forbes. The owner of the PPF group has assets totalling CZK 255 billion, the magazine says. Second on the list is Andrej Babiš, the finance minister and Agrofert owner, with CZK 70 billion. Third place is shared by real estate magnate Radovan Vítek and Karel Komárek, owner of the KKCG financial group. Forbes puts both men’s wealth at CZK 49 billion.
Events are being held in the Czech Republic to mark what would have been the 80th birthday of the late dissident, playwright and president Václav Havel. A gathering in his honour is due to take place on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Wednesday evening, while a concert is being held at the city’s Rudolfinum venue. The town hall in Prague 6, where Mr. Havel lived toward the end of his life, has prepared a series of events and several theatres are also paying tribute to him. On Tuesday a plaza beside the National Theatre was renamed Václav Havel Square. Mr. Havel, who was born on October 5, 1936, led the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and was president of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic for nearly 13 years. He died in December 2011.