In the News 5.5.08

Letná blob, Moravian wine, St. Vitus Cathedral, and more...

Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews


Prague – Besides the divisive role the blob has played lately, it has also pointed to the paradoxes Czech politics is so rife with.

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While Prague mayor Pavel Bém was a member of the architecture contest for the National Library building, he is suddenly surprised the National Library should stand in the Letná Plain.

Czech PM Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democrats) added his voice to the growing chorus of those who reckon there will be no National Library built per Kaplický´s design in Letná. He also stated he would give maximum CZK 2 billion for its construction last week. Where to find the rest of the funds needed, he would not advise.

In the meantime, Culture Minister Jehlička hesitates to allocate CZK 2-3 billion, arguing it is an “expensive luxury” to have a library like that. In his column in Hospodářské noviny culture section editor-in-chief Petr Fischer asks how minister Jehlička is going to explain to his MP colleagues that culture is a “luxury” in which the government should invest? Fischer considers the story of the blob embarassingly ridiculous. Or ridiculously embarrassing? You choose.


RADAR BASE AGAIN. Another contentious issue that has been hitting the Czech media headlines more than enough is the Brdy radar base. While the Communist Party (KSČM) declared they want to see both agreements with the USA, it looks like the agreement will not be discussed by parliament earlier than in September. And it is all because of Condoleeza Rice. She can come only in June and there would not be enough time to debate the treaties in parliament before the parliament summer holidays.

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POLITICAL IMMUNITY BOTTOMLESS? Aktuálně.cz analyst Petr Holub had a closer look at Czech politicians and their political immunity. In his summary of infamous cases of Czech high rank politicians who were charged for some sort of law violation or another he questions their “innocence”. Jiří Čunek accused of corruption, Liana Janáčková for her racist remarks and Pavel Severa for leaking a report on a sensitive issue to media. Petr Holub has a theory for that: the higher you are in Czech politics, the easier it is to escape a possible charge. Well, isn´t that a deal?


CALLING POLITICIANS IDIOTS. Have you ever desired to relieve yourself and call a Czech politician an idiot but were afraid to do so? Since now on, you can do it freely and publicly, as the Supreme Court ruled there is no need to apologize for calling Czech politicians idiots. The Supreme Court argues that politicians should be more immune to vulgar remarks made by Czech citizens. So as soon as PM Topolánek, who is famous for being not exactly diplomatic with journalists, starts calling them anything but good guys, we can officially hit back now. Good to know.


CALLING A JUDGE IMBECILE. It seems like foul words were flying in the air last week. Chairman of a fathers´ rights association K213 Jiří Fiala was sentenced to two months in prison for his contempt of court. Fiala lost his battle to see his children having decided to be his own defense attorney. And he came across as very harsh. Fiala kept correcting the judge and referred to him as imbecile. After the judge warned him, Fiala explained that referring to the judge as imbecile is not an insult but a mere fact that he was able to prove.


MORAVIAN WINE SUCCESS STORY. If you prefer wine to beer and if you prefer Moravian white wine to any international wine, then you want to know that Moravian wine makers were awarded 6 golden and 11 silver medals in an international wine contest in Bordeaux. It is good to read such news, as not long ago there was a shocking scandal in the history of Czech winemaking. Documents certifying the origin of five and a half million litres of wine were found to be fakes. No everything that glitters is wine.


TIME AND AGAIN. No-confidence vote could be soon called a national sports, judging the frequency the no-confidence vote takes place. But unlike in sports, the viewers largely know the results beforehand. PM Topolánek´s (Civic Democrats) government again survived the no confidence vote, winning the two key tests 101:97 and 100:97 respectively, thus the coalition proved its viability.


ST. VITUS GOES TO STATE. The Czech state again has the upper hand in a dispute over the ownership of St. Vitus Cathedral.  The Prague Municipal Court of Appeals has upheld a previous ruling that the cathedral and its adjacent property belong to the state.

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The verdict’s reasoning was based on the Supreme Court’s ruling on this case in February of last year. However, Petr Zderčík, the lawyer for the Metropolitan Chapter thinks the opposite: “My clients were the owners of the cathedral. The communist regime even acknowledged this at the height of its power and fame in 1954.” Whatever the truth is, it seems like a consensus cannot be reached on the question of whether the church had sole ownership of the cathedral or if it was transferred to the “Czechoslovak people” during the period after 1948. History can be quite messy sometimes.

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