News German president visits former Terezín concentration camp during state visit
The German president, Joachim Gauck, visited the former WWII ghetto and concentration camp at Terezín in central Bohemia on Tuesday afternoon. He was accompanied by his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman, who said Mr. Gauck’s visit followed logically from his 2012 visit to Lidice. The German head of state viewed the small fortress at Terezín, which the Prague Gestapo used as a prison. Around 155,000 people, almost all of the Jewish, passed through Terezín in the course of the war; nearly 120,000 died, around 35,000 of them at Terezín itself. Prague’s Rabbi Karel Sidon, who brought Tuesday’s memorial ceremony to a close, said he regarded Mr. Gauck’s visit not as a mere gesture but an expression of interest. The German head of state is on a three-day state visit to the Czech Republic.
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A court in Prague on Wednesday ruled that a former anchor for the commercial Czech TV channel Nova, Karel Voříšek, was wrongfully listed as a collaborator of the communist-era secret police, the StB. Mr Voříšek stopped working for Nova in 2012 after allegations surfaced that he reported to the StB on his fellow students while studying at the Faculty of Arts of Prague’s Charles University in 1980s.
The state-owned Czech Aeroholding’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, or EBITDA, reached 2.2 billion crowns last year, the firm said in a statement on Wednesday. That is 0.4 billion less than in 2012. The company took in 16.3 billion crowns in revenues last year. The company said the results were affected by the incorporation of the carrier Czech Airlines and Prague’s Václav Havel Airport into the firm.
The opposition Civic Democrats have slammed the centre-left Czech government over what they called a diversion from the country’s policy of supporting Israel. The party criticized the fact that last week, the Czech Republic was one 17 countries that abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council resolution to launch a probe into Israel’s actions in Gaza. Civic Democrat chair Petr Fiala demanded explanation from Foreign Minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, and said Israel deserved the Czech Republic’s full support. In a reaction, Minister Zaorálek said the Czech position on the UN vote had been coordinated with other EU member states.
Social Watch, an international anti-poverty advocacy group, has criticized the Czech Republic over increasing numbers of overpriced and substandard accommodation facilities often used by the poor, and continuing anti-Romany rallies. In its annual report for 2013 released on Wednesday, the group says the country was affected by chaos, incompetence, record-high unemployment and decreasing living standards for a majority of the population. The group has also criticized a lack of women in the lower house of Parliament and other top political positions.
Extended EU sanctions against Russia adopted over Moscow’s alleged support for the rebels in Ukraine will not have any significant impact on the Czech economy, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said in a statement on Wednesday. The sanctions are targeting Russia’s oil sector, defence equipment and sensitive technologies. However, the Czech Republic’s trade to Russia is based on civilian goods, Mr Sobotka said. The opposition Civic Democrats have questioned the prime minister’s claim, and said any effective sanctions must also logically hurt those who impose them.
The regional authorities in Ústí nad Labem have allowed a Muslim student to repeat her school-leaving exams at a local secondary medical school after she accused one of the teachers on the examination board of anti-Islamism, the news website idnes.cz reported on Wednesday. The student reportedly failed her Czech language exam in May; she claimed she was deliberately failed because she had objected to the teacher showing students anti-Muslim videos during his classes. The teacher, who also serves as an evangelical pastor in the city, has denied the accusations but the regional authorities have approved the student’s request to resit the exams.
Meteorologists have warned of heavy storms with hail that are to hit the Czech Republic on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. The storms are expected to move in from Germany to western Bohemia before advancing to the east of the country. The warning is in place until Thursday evening. Meteorologists have also warned that torrential rain could flood roads and buildings in low-lying areas.
Detectives from the anti-corruption unit of the Czech police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of Pražské služby, a city-run firm providing municipal services in the capital, the news website lidovky.cz reported. A spokesman for the unit did not comment on the operation but the website said the police were searching for documents possibly related to the firm’s multi-billion deals on waste collection as a planned acquisition of an additional stake in the company by Prague City Hall.
The Czech Constitutional Court has struck down legislation that denies tax breaks of some 25,000 crowns to working pensioners. Acting on a motion filed by a group of senators, the court said the legislation created inequality by only denying tax breaks to people who were receiving pensions on January 1 of the given year but not to others who began receiving pensions on any other day. The legislation was introduced in 2013 as part of the then centre-right government’s austerity measures. However, the lower house of Parliament is set to vote on a bill that would re-introduce tax breaks for working pensioners regardless of the Constitutional Court’s verdict.
Doctors have brought musician Michal Hrůza out of an induced coma, his manager told reporters. The singer and songwriter, who is 43, suffered brain injuries as a result of being attacked in Ostrava nearly two weeks ago after reportedly attempting to calm an altercation on the city’s bar-filled Stodolní Street. Hrůza was in the city to perform at the Colours of Ostrava music festival.