MPS from the center-right Civic Democrat and TOP09 parties have filed a joint complaint with the Constitutional Court against an amendment to the air pollution law which enables local authorities to check what households are burning in their stoves. The law is to put off people burning waste, such as PET bottles, which significantly contributes to air pollution in many Czech towns and villages. While environment activists have welcomed the move, right-wing parties claim it violates individual freedom and is an invasion into people’s privacy. They particularly oppose the fact that the authorities can enter people’s homes without a legal warrant from a court.
The signatories of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto have asked the Czech government to speak out in support of human rights in China. The appeal was made in an open letter to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka shortly after he proclaimed that he and his government stood up for the values that Charter 77 defended. The road to democracy would have been much more difficult without the courageous stances, persistent effort as well as the suffering of Charter 77 signatories, Mr. Sobotka said on the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Charter 77 manifesto earlier this month. Over 160 of the original signatories have now asked the prime minister to follow up his words with actions, and come out in defence of human right in China.
A wax figurine of America’s 45th president, Donald Trump, has been unveiled at Prague’s Grévin Wax Museum. The figure is reported to be the third biggest on show –following that of the Golem and French actor Gerard Depardieu. It was made, with the help of a double, by sculptor Eric Saint Chaffray at Grévin’s Paris studios.
The US Ambassador to Prague, Mr. Andrew Schapiro, is leaving office on Friday. Ambassador Schapiro, who is not a career diplomat, was appointed to the post by the outgoing US president Barack Obama. He has served in the post since September 2014. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek recently said he feared that it might take some time to find a replacement. There has been speculation that the incoming US president Donald Trump’s Czech-born ex-wife Ivana has expressed an interest in the position.
President Zeman’s open support for the incoming US president Donald Trump, could smooth early interaction with the Trump administration, President Zeman’s chief foreign policy advisor, and the man slated to be the next Czech ambassador to the US, Hynek Kmoníček, told Radio Prague. Mr. Kmoníček said he expected a strong focus on domestic policy from the new US administration and and predicted unexpected moves from the incoming US president who as a self-made man was used to making his own decisions and was not likely to pay great heed to advisers. Czech President Milos Zeman, who openly supported Donald Trump during his election campaign, has received an invitation to the White House in April.
Employers have criticized Interior Minister Milan Chovanec for advocating a tough line with foreign workers who violate the law. In an interview for the daily Pravo, the minister said a foreign worker who violated the law should be sacked on the spot and should be banned from working in the country thereafter. Marketa Schormova, a legal expert for the Czech Business Chamber says this practice would be in violation of the Labor Code, since employers can only fire an employee who has been found guilty of intentionally breaking the law. Minister Chovanec based his proposal on statistics that suggest a growing number of foreign workers, predominantly from Poland and Ukraine, had in recent months committed petty crime or broken the law in some way. The Czech Business Chamber has stressed the country badly needs foreign workers and their lack could be a brake for future economic growth.
The Czech telecommunications regulator CTU has warned operators Vodafone and O2 to cut wholesale prices for mobile internet services charged to virtual operators or risk losing their license. The regulator said a condition of the auction at which they acquired the licenses was to set wholesale prices that would allow virtual operators to operate profitably. CTU has given Vodafone and O2 a month in which to comply before it starts proceedings to strip them of their licenses.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has advised Czech nationals in Gambia to leave the country as fast as possible due to the highly volatile situation in the country in the wake of presidential elections. Czechs planning to travel to the country have been advised to postpone their journey. A state of emergency is currently in force in the country. Czechs in trouble have been advised to contact the Czech honorary consulate in Banjul.
Meteorologists have declared a smog alert in Prague and seven other regions of the Czech Republic, where more than double the permissible limit for airborne dust particles have been recorded. People with chronic lung-related problems and heart condition as well as elderly people and children have been recommended to limit outdoor physical activities. Authorities in Prague have also appealed to drivers to curb their travels, one of the major factors behind the increased pollution levels. If the situation worsens, they are ready to ask the biggest polluters to temporarily scale down production.