News Euro MPs, former ministers, call on government to take principled stand on Russia
Euro MPs for TOP 09 Luděk Niedermayer and Jaromír Štětina, along with former ministers for human rights and the environment, Michal Kocab and Martin Bursík, have called on the Czech Republic to block visas for Russian citizens supporting the Putin regime. In a written statement, the four appealed to the Czech government to take a principled stand on Russia in light of the most recent developments in Ukraine, referring to a new invasion by Russian forces, reported on Thursday. Along with visa bans, the four made clear that, in their view, the Czech government needed to offer Ukraine material and military help. Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, also reacting to developments in Ukraine, told news website iDnes that the Czech Republic would back a greater NATO military presence at the alliance’s eastern borders.
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President Miloš Zeman and chairman of the Czech Olympic Committee Jiří Kejval signed the application and the accompanying letter for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, meeting the two conditions for the country’s participation in the games. The documents must be delivered to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne by November 5. The Czech Republic is expected to nominate around 130 athletes for the games, which will start in Rio on August 5 next year. At the last summer Olympics in London, Czechs gained ten medals, including three gold ones.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has signed a diplomatic note in protest at the Norwegian authorities, who decided to place in adoption the six-year-old son of Czech woman Eva Michaláková. She has also been barred from having any contact with her second son, who is 10. The note will be handed over to the Norwegian embassy on Wednesday afternoon. Speaking on Tuesday night, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the country’s social affairs minister would seek an explanation from the Norwegian authorities on the ruling, which Prague says reneged on a previous agreement. The government has also encouraged Mrs. Michaláková to explore all avenues of appeal in Norway and if that fails to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, appointed Jaromír Jirsa as a new Constitutional Court judge, after the Senate approved his nomination last week. Mr Jirsa, who has served as the deputy head of the Municipal Court in Prague, will replace Vlasta Formánková, whose term came to an end in August. Mr Jirsa, who is 49, has been working in the judiciary since the 1990s. He was the President of the Czech Union of Judges for six years.
The head of public broadcaster Czech Radio, Peter Duhan, has resigned from his post, citing health reasons, the chairman of the Czech Radio’s supervisory council, Michal Stehlík, said after an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday. Mr Duhan has been suspected by the council of breaking its rules with the employment of his son, Andrej, by the radio station. He had previously issued a statement saying that he has not done anything illegal. Mr Duhan, who is 69, will remain in the post until November 3.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a diplomatic passport to Martin Nejedlý, head of the Czech branch of the Russian-based oil firm Lukoil and chief advisor to President Miloš Zeman, the daily Lidové Noviny reported on Wednesday. The document was requested by the Office of President Miloš Zeman. Diplomatic passports are usually issued only to Foreign Ministry employees and certain high officials. The information was confirmed on Wednesday by president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, who said Mr Nejedlý was a regular member of the president’s entourage on trips abroad.
An open-air exhibition in remembrance of Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of 669, mostly Jewish children, by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia before the outbreak of WWII, gets underway on Wenceslas Square in Prague on Wednesday. The exhibition, consisting of 28 panels with photographs presenting the life story of Winton and the children he saved, premiered in Prague and London in 2011, and it will run through the end of October. Sir Nicholas died on July 1 this year at the age of 106.
There are over 10 million Syrian migrants in the Middle East and North Africa, who pose a serious risk of further migration, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after a night meeting of the National Security Council, citing the Czech intelligence services. Among other topics discussed at the meeting, which was also attended by President Miloš Zeman, were strategies on reinforcing the Czech military and police. Both documents have been approved and will now be discussed by the cabinet.
Five Czechs who were kidnapped in Lebanon in July this year are still alive, Právo reported on Wednesday. Czech security agencies have received evidence of the five’s well-being from an intermediary, the daily said, adding that they are evidently still in Lebanon. A source told Právo that the kidnapping was linked to the detention of Lebanese man Ali Fayad, one of three people arrested in Prague on charges of planning to sell weapons and drugs to US agents posing as members of Colombia’s FARC. A Prague court recently ruled that they could be extradited to the US.
The Czech government is considering sending machine guns to help Kurds in Iraq fighting Islamic State. Speaking at a meeting of the State Security Council on Tuesday evening, the minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said it was very probable that the weapons would be sent. Minister Stropnický said Prague would discuss the matter with the United States as its forces would make any such delivery. The Czech government has in the past approved the donation of ammunition and hand grenades to the Kurds.
The president’s chancellor Vratislav Mynář will file an appeal at the National Security Authority on Wednesday against its rejection of his application for top level security clearance, President Miloš Zeman told the Czech News Agency. The head of state indicated that Mr. Mynář was minded to try all avenues of appeal, including at the Supreme Administrative Court. He said that the BIS secret police had previously given the head of his office the security all-clear. Mr. Zeman has in the past said that Mr. Mynář cannot remain in the post if he fails to pass the National Security Authority vetting process.