News NGO unveils Putin as Hitler
Members of the Czech NGO Dekomunizace have raised a giant banner at City Hall in Liberec, north of Prague, casting Russian leader Vladimir Putin as Adolf Hitler - complete with the Nazi dictator’s moustache and medals on his overcoat featuring the swastika and the red star. The banner was hung close to a memorial remembering nine in Liberec who were killed during the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Dekomunizace, dedicated to casting light on crimes committed by the former regime, made clear it was protesting Russia’s recent invasion of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine’s domestic politics. The banner was raised with permission by City Hall; the police, however, began to investigate after charges were filed.
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Sculptor David Černý must pay a former director of the Czech National Gallery, Milan Knížák, CZK 100,000 in damages for defaming him in a Czech Television interview. The Prague Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal lodged by Mr. Černý, upholding a previous decision it made. The artist also has to pay Mr. Knížák’s court costs. Mr. Černý used abusive language to describe the then National Gallery head in an interview for a 2011 documentary on an award for young artists. Mr. Černý caused controversy with a sculpture for the 2009 Czech presidency of the EU that was considered offensive by some member states.
Zaorálek calls on Moscow to aid crash investigation and cease sending weapons and gunmen to eastern Ukraine
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, says the Russian Federation should provide assistance to an independent investigation into the crash of a Malaysian plane in eastern Ukraine and also cease sending weapons and gunmen to the region. He said if Moscow failed to do so in a matter of days an extraordinary EU summit should adopt strong sanctions targeted at sectors of the Russian economy. Mr. Zaorálek was speaking in Brussels, where EU foreign ministers have been meeting for the first time since Thursday’s incident, in which almost 300 people died when a Malaysian Airlines flight came down in territory held by pro-Russian rebels.
The Czech government has approved the candidature of the chief of staff of the Czech Army, Petr Pavel, for the post of chairman of NATO’s Military Committee. Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Monday night, the Czech minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said General Pavel had a “very solid chance” of obtaining the position, which is second only to the general secretary in the NATO hierarchy. For his part, the general said if he wins the post in a vote in mid September it will be a great honour for the Czech Republic and an expression of trust on the part of the country’s allies.
The Czech Republic is one of the last remaining EU states which does not have a children’s Ombudsman, according to a government report on the state of human rights in the Czech Republic. The report says that while cases relating to minors are dealt with by the Ombudsman’s Office, the institution lacks the staff and money needed to deal with the vast amount of requests for help it gets annually and children’ cases deserve priority. The Czech Republic has come under fire from international institutions for failing to give Romany children equal access to education, failing to secure the right of children from divorced families to be in contact with both parents and keeping them in children’s homes for years in order to protect the rights of their biological parents.
Storms and heavy rain complicated traffic and flooded cellars in many parts of the country, particularly in south-western Bohemia. Rail traffic between Prague and Mariánské Lázně was disrupted for several hours on Monday night and fire crews worked around the clock clearing away uprooted trees and pumping water from cellars. In some places the rain amounted to 67 liters per square meter, causing flash floods which temporarily closed down the lobby of Prague’s Mustek metro station. The ABC theatre in Prague was flooded for the third time this year.
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.