News Ethnic Czechs in Volyn province ask Czech Republic for help
Several dozen ethnic Czech families from the Volyn province in Ukraine have asked the Czech Interior and Foreign ministries for help in repatriation to the Czech Republic. The so-called Volyn Czechs expressed concern over tension between Ukraine and Russia which has escalated in recent weeks, leading up to the possible annexation of Crimea. The Interior Ministry confirmed it had received a request for aid. Ethnic Czechs settled in the Volyn area in the second half of the 19th century; some returned to Czechoslovakia after WW II, most often to areas of the Sudetenland formerly inhabited by ethnic Germans who were expelled after the war. Others returned after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia after 1989.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
The Czech government has approved extending a freeze on the wages of top public officials up until 2018. The proposal, put forward by the Labour Ministry, would see the wages of the president, government ministers, senators, deputies and judges kept on their present level for another four years after a previous freeze expires at the end of 2014. The only exemption is a one percent valorisation due to inflation. The proposal, which still has to pass through Parliament, would affect some 4,000 people.
President Miloš Zeman who attended Monday’s cabinet meeting praised the ruling coalition for its willingness to spend money on investment projects, saying it had given the public “reason to hope” in a better future. Mr. Zeman took part in the government session primarily to emphasize the need for the government to strengthen the sphere of economic diplomacy and push ahead with plans to expand Czech business interests beyond EU borders. He mentioned in particular Russia, China, South Korea, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as offering considerable potential.
Meteorologists have issued a storm warning for the south-western parts of the country where heavy rain on Monday night and Tuesday morning may swell smaller rivers. Day temperatures should not drop below 22 degrees Celsius but the southern parts of the country may be hit by heavy storms with hailstones and high wind. The week is expected to be hot and humid with plenty of rain and temperatures gradually rising back to the 30s.
Police are searching for a man who brutally beat up a homeless person in the streets of Prague in the early hours of Monday. The homeless man died of grievous internal injuries shortly after. The incident happened shortly before 7am at a Hradčanská tram stop. The police have released a description of the aggressor and asked potential witnesses to come forward. If convicted the man could face a sentence of up to 16 years.
Several hundred people on Monday attended the funeral of Sergeant Ivo Klusák, one of the five Czech servicemen who died in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. The 34-year-old soldier was given a funeral with military honours attended by Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, army chief-of-staff Petr Pavel and members of the Chrudim special forces. He was awarded a medal for bravery in memoriam. Sergeant Klusák served in six foreign mission, four of those in Afghanistan.
According to inside sources close to the government, the Social Democrats traded their support for Věra Jourová’s nomination to the post of EU commissioner for a higher minimal wage growth and more money for the social services sphere in 2015. The ANO party, which holds the finance ministry portfolio, has nodded to both. The Social Democrats want a minimal wage hike by 700 crowns a month, as opposed to the proposed 500 crown increase, and want to pump 750 million crowns more into the sphere of social services.
The State Attorney’s Office in Olomouc has filed charges of tax evasion against a dozen people in the region. According to Olomouc State Attorney Karel Studený the case involves a number of companies and two lawyers who masterminded the tax scams. The damage is said to have reached tens of millions of crowns. The Czech government recently set up a special team, made up of experts from different fields, to crack-down on large scale tax evasion which is costing the country billions of crowns in lost revenues.
The ANO party of the ruling coalition is to debate who should replace Věra Jourová in the post of regional development minister following her nomination to be the country’s next EU commissioner. According to party leader Andrej Babiš one of the candidates being considered is deputy regional affairs minister Klára Dostálová who is in charge of the EU operation programmes agenda. The Czech Republic has in the past had problems with drawing of EU funds and the question who should replace Ms Jourová, who is an expert in the field, is seen as being of utmost importance.
Czech actor Václav Sloup, known for his work in TV series such as Chalupáři and Ulice (The Street) has died at the age of 78. The news was confirmed on Sunday by fellow actor Jiří Krampol. As a young man, Sloup originally studied to be a carpenter but applied to the DAMU academy after military service. He originally joined the famous Theatre on the Balustrade in Prague. In his career, he appeared in numerous films, with roles in Frantíšek Vláčil’s Markéta Lazarová and Jaromil Jireš’ 1963 film The Cry, one of the first films of the Czech New Wave.
The ANO movement's Minister for Regional Development, Věra Jourová, has been nominated by the ruling coalition for the post of Czech EU commissioner. The coalition, led by the Social Democrats, made the announcement before Monday’s cabinet meeting. Ms Jourová’s nomination received a boost last week after it became apparent that a female nominee to the new commission headed by new head Jean-Claude Juncker was preferred. For weeks, parties in the coalition had pushed their own candidates, with the the Social Democrats, for example, originally getting behind former finance minister Pavel Mertlík.