News Civil service bill set for approval in lower house next week
After seven hours of debates, Czech MPs on Wednesday night backed the government’s civil service bill which is now set for approval; the final legislative round is to begin in the lower house next week. The opposition has threatened to filibuster the draft legislation; the TOP 09 and Civic Democrat parties claim that if passed, the bill would make it difficult to dismiss public servants currently holding positions in the state administration. The bill is long overdue according to the EU and several anti-corruption NGOs which believe that it should, among other things, curb corruption among public employees.
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The Český slavík (Czech Nightingale) poll for musician of the year has been won for the 40th time by legendary pop star Karel Gott. The singer received the Absolute slavík award for 2015 as well as best male vocalist. Mr Gott was initially not expect to attend after recently being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and undergoing cancer treatment. His appearance was brief but was greeted with a standing ovation. The performer told the audience that support from his fans was the best infusion. On the night, best female singer was Lucie Bílá, who took the award for the 19th time and the best band were hard rock group Kabát, who clinched their 10th award. Some 140,000 members of the public voted this year.
The heads of the country's intelligence services met with members of the cabinet and the prime minister on Saturday, reviewing security and assessing that the country was not in danger of a terrorist attack. Tougher security measures were implemented following the recent attacks in Paris, and further developments in neighbouring Belgium, and are in to stay in place until the new year. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that there was no need for hysteria or fear and no reason to cancel traditional events. He also said Czechs should make the most of the upcoming holidays.
The Czech Republic will not join a plan by neighboring Slovakia to challenge Brussels in court over EU mandatory migrant quotas, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after a special cabinet meeting. Bratislava is planning on filing a case on the quotas at the European Court of Justice. On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the country should consider taking part in the complaint, charging that the plans on redistributing migrants across EU countries were "nonsensical" and "would not work in practice". The prime minister and Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek came out against; most of the cabinet on Saturday also opposed the idea, the prime minister said.
Lights at the Christmas tree on Prague's Old Town Square were turned on on Saturday but not in a traditional ceremony for security reasons, news website iDnes reports. The lights will also be turned off on the hour for a few minutes for an undetermined period of time before they stay on for the greater part of the Christmas period. Key sites in Prague saw security increased until the end of the year at the earliest, following the recent attacks in Paris.
TOP 09's Karel Schwarzenberg, due to step down as party leader, has said that in the migrant crisis the Czech Republic, the EU and even his party faced the challenge of a generation, the same way predecessors had to deal with the realities of Nazism or communist rule. At his speech at his party's congress in Prague on Saturday, the former foreign minister, who has long championed human rights, said it was important to be open and friendly to refugees, suggesting anyone could become a refugee under certain circumstances. He added that the 25 year period following the Velvet Revolution had been golden but that it had ended. After his speech, he told journalists that he was disgusted by President Miloš Zeman's position on migrants; Mr Schwarzenberg went head-to-head against the current head of state in the presidential election in 2013.
The leader of TOP 09 Karel Schwarzenberg, 77, is to step down as chairman and pass the baton to deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek at the party's congress launched in Prague on Saturday. The former foreign minister and presidential candidate is stepping down after successfully leading TOP 09 to third place in elections in 2010, not long after the party was formed. TOP 09, now in the opposition, was in the former government of Petr Nečas with the Civic Democrats and Public Affairs. Giving up the post, Mr Schwarzenberg will be named honorary chairman. The new party leader, Miroslav Kalousek, 54, is a seasoned politician who twice served as finance minister.
Air quality in smog-hit Moravia and Silesia improved on Saturday although all 14 measuring sites still measured levels of particulate matter higher than existing limits. Prior, levels had progressed to twice the legal amount, the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute said. The region of Moravia-Silesia regularly suffers from poor air quality related to heavy industry and other factors.
Police have shelved charges filed by the the Minister for Regional Development earlier this year over the alleged past manipulation of public tenders at the state agency for tourism, CzechTourism. Minister Karla Šlechtová filed charges against unknown perpetrators in March. The police, however, did not find evidence that any crime had been committed. CzechTourism is tasked with promoting travel in the Czech Republic, both at home and abroad.
Members of the government are to take part in a special meeting to discuss security in the Czech Republic as well as the European Union ahead of a Council of Europe meeting on Sunday. The prime minister is to push for stronger controls of the EU's Schengen borders. Other aspects of the continuing migrant crisis are also to be discussed. Security is at the forefront following the recent attacks in Paris which saw 129 people die at the hands of extremists. Saturday's meeting is to be attended by the head of the police as well as intelligence officials.
The Boston Bruins' David Krejčí found the back of the net with just
a minute remaining in the Bruins' match against the New York Rangers
on Friday to seal a 4:3 result. The Bruins are on a five-game winning
streak and are currently third in the Atlantic division, behind Ottawa and
In other hockey action on Friday, Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Michal Neuwirth turned away 33 shots in his team's 3:2 overtime win against Nashville. Neuwirth was named the game's second star.