News Party of Mayors and Independents elects new leadership
The center-right party of Mayors and Independents (STAN) on Friday elected a new leadership at its party conference in Prague. The new party leader is to be the governor of Liberec Martin Půta who was elected by an overwhelming majority. The party is also discussing its future role and strategy on the Czech political scene. The new leader is in favour of looser cooperation with the center-right TOP 09 which was STANS close partner in the past running in elections on a joint ballot. The party has strongly promoted greater powers for municipalities.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
The Czech police force is to set up a new cyber crime squad in October, Czech public television reported citing Police Presidium spokeswoman Jana Macaliková. Presently cyber crime is dealt with by regular officers but since the amount of cyber crime has seen a steep increase the police is to get a specialized unit which should deal with such cases faster and more efficiently and cooperate closely with similar units abroad. The cases of cyber crime registered by the police reached 2,500 cases with the damage estimated at one billion crowns in 2014, a year-on-year increase of 30 percent.
The ANO party of the centre-left governing coalition continues to outstrip its rivals in popularity polls, according to the results of a survey conducted by the TNS Aisa agency. Despite a slight drop in support ANO would currently win general elections with 27 percent of the vote. The Social Democrats of the ruling coalition would come second with 19.5 percent and the Communist party would place third with 13.5 percent of the vote. The opposition right wing TOP 09 party would come forth with 10 percent of the vote and the right wing Civic Democrats would get 8.5 percent. The junior party of the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats, would only just cross the 5 percent margin needed to win seats in the lower house with 5.5 percent.
The government will meet on Wednesday to debate the number of migrants that the country would be capable of taking in over the next two years, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told Czech Television on Sunday. The minister said that the overall number would be smaller than the 1500 people which the country would have been allocated in the event of quotas. According to the present arrangement EU member states are to take in between 40 and 60 thousand migrants on a voluntary basis in order to alleviate the burden on Greece and Italy. Minister Chovanec said that according to his estimate the Czech Republic would take in several hundred migrants in the next two years. The issue is to be debated at a meeting of EU interior ministers later this month.
Hundreds of Albanians have gone on social networks to apologize for the brutal murder of two Czech tourists on Friday. The tourists were shot on a mountain road near the town of Skadar on their way to a tent camp. According to the AFP news agency the killers robbed them and pushed the car with the dead bodies down a ravine to make it appear an accident. Shortly after news of the murder broke people from Skadar gathered in the streets to lay flowers and light candles in memory of the victims. Some of them carried Czech flags. Among those who posted words of apology and regret was the popular Albanian music group Revolt Klan. “We just wanted to tell the Czech people that all Albanians are not murders, that what happened is shameful and we greatly regret it,” Bruno Pollogati of Revolt Klan told Czech Radio.
Some migrants who file for asylum in the Czech Republic are made to undergo medical tests, Lidové noviny’s internet news site reported on Sunday, saying similar practices as in force in other EU member states. This was confirmed by Interior Ministry spokeswoman Hana Mala who said that some migrants lie about their age in order to improve their chances of being granted asylum and if the authorities have serious doubts the applicant is asked to undergo an X-ray of their wrist. According to medical sources this is the easiest way of ascertaining a persons’ approximate age with an error margin of one to two years.
Tens of thousands of believers assembled in Velehrad on Sunday for celebrations honouring the legacy of Ss Cyril and Methodius, Greek missionaries who brought Christianity to the Czech lands. At a celebratory mass, held out in the open despite the scorching heat, the Archbishop of Olomouc Jan Graubner stressed the need to live by Christian values, not just to proclaim them, and to show generosity and goodwill to the migrants in need of help. The Czech Bishops Conference on Saturday reacted to public displays of xenophobia by saying the Catholic Church was prepared to assist the authorities in accepting Christian migrants whose life is at threat. The People of Goodwill Days at Velehrad will culminate with a charity concert on Sunday night.
The Czech Bishops´ Conference has offered the government assistance in accepting Christian migrants whose life is at threat. In a statement issued on Saturday the Czech Bishops´ Conference said it was prepared to call on parishes to accept families of Christian refugees, in cooperation with the local authorities. Local charity organisations should also get involved in the process of providing aid to immigrants, the bishops said. At the same time, they pointed out the need to distinguish economic migrants from refugees fleeing from war, hunger and instability.
Meteorologists have issued a heat storm warning for the western parts of the country on Saturday afternoon and evening, predicting torrential rain and hailstones in places. Afternoon heat-storms are expected across the country in the next two days when temperatures should hit 37 degrees Celsius. The tropic heatwave should break mid-week although a long-term forecast for July predicts above average temperatures for the entire month.
A Czech military plane is transporting four Przewalski mares to Mongolia for reintroduction into the wild, part of Prague Zoo’s long-standing programme to save the Mongolian wild horse. The zoo’s spokeswoman said the horses left Prague airport aboard a CASA military plane on Saturday. Przewalski’s horse is a rare subspecies native specifically to Mongolia. It became extinct in the wild 40 years ago and Prague Zoo has played a major role in saving the horse, breeding it and gradually returning it to its natural environment. Between 2011 and 2014 the zoo has sent 15 horses to a nature reserve in the Mongolian steppe where they have started breeding successfully.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec have resolutely condemned the racism and xenophobia displayed at a recent anti-migrant rally in Prague. Prime Minister Sobotka said it was inadmissible to use freedom of speech and assembly to spread intolerance and racial hatred and it was up to the police force to ensure the right of law at such gatherings. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec admitted that the law had been violated on several counts at the Prague demonstration and the police had failed to take action. He said the police force had been reminded of its duty and stressed that such behaviour would not be tolerated in future. Thousands of people have been signing a petition against racism and xenophobia in the wake of the anti-migrant rally in Prague, where the police turned a blind eye to participants carrying dummy gallows for the traitors who opened the country’s doors to migrants.