News Negotiator says government could tax monies paid to churches under restitution law
The Social Democrats’ chief negotiator on the issue of church restitution, Alena Gajdůšková, says if a team made up of her party and coalition partners ANO cannot reach agreement with faith groups on changes to the law then taxes could be levied on financial settlements being received by the churches. She made the comments ahead of talks on Tuesday evening with church representatives. The Social Democrats were strongly opposed to a law passed by a previous, right-wing government returning church property and compensation in lieu of assets that cannot be returned. Ms. Gajdůšková also said the state would push for right of refusal on property handed over.
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Christian Democrat deputies and senators are to stay away from a state honours ceremony at Prague Castle on October 28. Party leader Pavel Bělobrádek said the event had degenerated into undignified politicking and the settling of personal scores. The announcement follows a scandal linked to the alleged removal of George Brady from a list of recipients of honours after his nephew, Christian Democrat arts minister Daniel Herman, received the Dalai Lama. However, Mr. Bělobrádek welcomed a suggestion that the president’s office could present Mr. Brady with an award on a different occasion. Many legislators from other parties will also boycott Friday’s ceremony.
Police have proposed that a man accused of throwing an egg at President Miloš Zeman face charges. The man faces up to two years in prison for disorderly conduct over the incident, which took place on the November 17 state holiday last year. A number of missiles were thrown at a stage at Prague’s Albertov, where Mr. Zeman appeared at an event alongside the leader of an anti-Muslim group. A state attorney will now consider whether to file charges against the man, who was not arrested on the spot.
President Miloš Zeman says he is considering presenting an award to George Brady at an appropriate occasion. Speaking via his spokesman, Mr. Zeman said this would be a “gesture of good will”. The president’s office is accused of removing Mr. Brady – a Czech-born Holocaust survivor – from a list of recipients of state honours on October 28 after his nephew, arts minister Daniel Herman, received the Dalai Lama. Mr. Herman says the president made the honour conditional on the meeting with the Tibetan not going ahead. Mr. Zeman’s office denies this. Mr. Brady, who is 88, says he is not interested in receiving an honour from the president.
The 20th edition of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival has got underway in the Vysočina town. Among the guests this year at the country’s most important documentary event will be US experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison and Mike Bonanno of activist duo the Yes Men. American psychologist Philip Zimbardo, well-known for a 1970s “prison experiment”, will appear at Jihlava’s Inspiration Forum. The festival runs until Monday.
The state budget will end in surplus this year, the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, said on Tuesday. Mr. Babiš said that would be the best budget result since the Czech Republic was founded in 1993. In addition, state debt has fallen for the first time since 2011. The minister chiefly attributed the positive figures to more effective tax collection.
Czech tennis player Karolína Plíšková got off to a winning start at her debut at the WTA Finals in Singapore, defeating Spanish-Venezuelan opponent Garbine Muguruza. The match was a dramatic one: Plíšková, ranked fifth in the the world, came back from 4-0 in the third set and saved a match point. The final score was 6-2, 6-7,7-5.
The government has approved a bill which will allow ‘second-parent adoption’ in the Czech Republic, granting the non-biological partner in registered same-sex partnerships the same legal rights to the child. The issue has been discussed for several years and earlier proposals were tabled in the past. A recent poll by the CVVM agency suggested that more than three-fifths of Czechs were in favour.
The presence of coliform bacteria in tap water in Brno could be a combination of different factors, an official revealed on Monday, among them a weaker dose of a disinfection agent than usual or a higher water temperature. Petr Šindler of Brno Waterworks and Canalization confirmed the news, saying it was not possible to determine which factor had been dominant. The city has since quadrupled the amount of chlorine in the water supply. Coliform bacteria was found in Brno tap water in September.
The chairman of the lower house Jan Hamáček has backed the prime
minister’s call on the head of state for Auschwitz survivor George Brady
to be given a state award in recognition of his life’s work. The
politician said that he hoped President Miloš Zeman would heed the call
but made clear that if he did not, there were other means by which the
Chamber of Deputies could honour the 88-year-old. In addition, the head of
the lower house stated that he felt that Prague Castle needed to do more to
clear the matter up. The culture minister, Daniel Herman, has claimed that
he warned by the president that if he met with the Dalai Lama (as happened
last week) his uncle George Brady would not receive the state award.
In related news, George Brady has accepted an invitation from Palácký University Olomouc which wants to recognise his life’s work with an award of its own. The news was confirmed on Monday for the Czech News Agency by the school’s rector, Jaroslav Miller and by Mr Brady’s wife, Tereza. The ceremony is likely to be scheduled for October 28th – the same day state honours will be awarded by the head of state.
A bailiff ordered the Office of the President to pay a 100,000 crown fine on Monday for failing to respect a court decision ordering the president to apologise for comments made about journalist Ferdinand Peroutka; the news was confirmed by Czech TV. In a past speech, President Milos Zeman maintained the journalist once wrote an article referring to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as “a gentleman”. The late Mr Peroutka’s granddaughter took the matter to court and followed up with a distraint order when no apology was issued. Unless Prague Castle complies, the bailiff could freeze its account; the fine given is the highest possible in such cases.