Last Monday saw a couple of weeks long puzzle solved when the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration announced re-introduction of visa for Czech citizens due to recent surge in asylum seekers. The introduction was immediate, forcing many Czechs to travel to Vienna Canadian Embassy since the Prague embassy does not issue visa. Some of our readers commented on the various aspects of the debate saying Canada is only doing what any other country would in the same situation, adding that it is up to the Czech Republic to deal with the Roma issue. Another reader calls for a united approach to fix the Roma problem rather than avoiding it by “closing the door”.A Roma reader expressed disappointment at Canadian
Canada warned that it is mulling the re-introduction of visas for the Czech citizens due to an excessive influx of Czech Roma applying for refugee status based on discrimination and neo-Nazi attacks. The information sparked reaction on the Czech side, suggesting they might introduce diplomatic visas in retaliation, while Interior Minister Martin Pecina offered to intervene to cancel Prague-Toronto flights. A shower of critical comments from across the Czech political spectrum, unusually unanimous on the matter, ensued. A report by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) concluded the Czech state does not discriminate against Roma. A number of human rights activists objected, however, claiming some discrimination on the part of the state definitely exists. The Czech Republic ranks second
Lidové noviny reported on Friday that Prague metro stations have started slowing down the speed of their escalators. The original Soviet escalators often ran at 9 km/h (2.5 m/s); however, the regulations have changed throughout Europe and the permitted speed decreased to the maximum of 0.7 m/s for safety reasons. Ondřej Pečený, Prague Public Transport (DPP) spokesman, said there are still 55 old-type escalators but are gradually being replaced. The slower escalators are almost all of the A-line. Most of the fast ones can be found on the B-line. The exchange of one escalator costs between CZK 50 million and CZK 100 million, and the DPP plans to have all of the Soviet types discarded within the next 6 years.
On 19 June some 7,000 high school students marched through Prague in protest of the cabinet’s intention to test out the new unified leaving exams on them this year. However, they ended up throwing tomatoes at the Lichtenstein palace instead of the Education Ministry and only realised their mistake after being notified by a policeman who got hit. Somehow, though they eventually managed to meet with the education minister. The whole demonstration gives an impression of taking place just for the sake of it. Students mobilised through Facebook and launched what they call a Green Revolution. The half green half red stickers of oval shape can still be seen on lampposts around Prague. Facebook has recently become the medium of
On 10 June the lower house once again discussed the smoking ban. Out of the three proposals of the new law – ranging from completely banning smoking in restaurants, pubs and bars to stickers marking a non-smoking, smoking or combined establishments – it was the last and least “harmless” proposal that won in the end. Restaurant owners will now have the right to decide what kind of establishment they are running and will be obliged to indicate this with a sticker at the entrance, otherwise they might face a fine of CZK 5,000. MPs who favour a complete ban accuse MPs who are smokers of promoting their personal interests. “Sticker law” proponent Zdeněk Lhota (ODS), an occasional smoker, told Lidové
Last month was marked by the new “movement” that propagated throwing eggs at ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek as a means of expressing dissatisfaction with his politics. The Facebook-spread initiative drew more than 55,000 supporters within weeks and literally coloured Paroubek and his colleagues egg-white and yolk-yellow nationwide at rallies for elections to the European Parliament. The swiftness with which people responded to the call to arms might serve as an illustration of the kind of sense of humour Czechs proudly claim to share. It ranges from fictitious characters such as the legendary and dearly loved Jára Cimrman, to a sculpture attempting at making Europe laugh at itself and causing diplomatic upheaval instead. Last Monday, a group of people in Brno
There are about 150 casinos registered in the Czech Republic. They are obligated by law to donate some of their profits to charity. They do so through a foundation. It is well known some of the money goes to organisations represented by political leaders. It is also not a secret some of the money goes to the Catholic Church. The daily Právo wrote last week that a foundation established by the Happy Day casino network donated more than CZK 20 million to the church between 2000 and 2007. Should the church accept money from gambling? From time to time politicians regulating casinos more. Last week, the new Christian Democratic leader Cyril Svoboda criticised gambling which “can lead to criminal behaviour,
The weekly Týden reported last week that the Brno-based teaching centre Basic had been granted a license from the Education Ministry to open an elementary school. The school of “applied scholastics” will follow the teaching methods of science-fiction writer and scientology founder Ron Hubbard. The centre said that the programme, which is set to start in September, will be “entirely non-religious”, but experts fear that the school could become a recruitment centre for new members of the church. Unlike some other European countries, most notably Germany and France, the Czech Republic does recognise scientology as a religion, and the church can therefore legally operate in the country. In France, a trial has just started with several members of the Church
Czech political parties have less than two weeks to convince the citizens to vote for them in the upcoming EU polls scheduled for 5 and 6 June. Last week, the Czech Television and the Czech Radio began broadcasting the parties’ election spots. The two biggest parties have chosen a confrontational approach. While the ČSSD is calling on people not to allow the government of Mirek Topolánek again, the ODS is offering “a solution rather than scaring“. The Greens have chosen a different target. In their election video, the party features eurosceptic president Klaus as a rooster standing on a fence and crowing against Europe, with one deputy sharpening an axe and the party leader Bursík asking him not to strike.
Last Wednesday two young men decided to express their dissatisfaction with the policies of ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek through a food attack. They pelted the politician at an election rally in Kolín with tomatoes and eggs inscribed with a message that read “I don’t want to hurt you, but I hope I don’t miss!” Paroubek, who helped bring down the ODS-led government last month by initiating a vote of no confidence, reportedly lost his cool and screamed “pigs!”, while wiping yolk off his lapels. In an op-ed in lidovky.cz on Thursday, political analyst Bohumil Doležal noted that eggs are not the best ingredient in political debate but are still preferable to rocks or hand grenades. The attack came about a