In the News 27.4.09

Václav Havel backing up ODS, Council of intellectuals against extremism and David Černý against Klaus and communists

Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews

SETTLING OLD DIFFERENCES. Recent statements made by outgoing PM Mirek Topolánek and former president Václav Havel have suggested that Havel might back Topolánek’s Civic Democrats (ODS) against the Social Democrats (ČSSD) in the early general elections scheduled for October.

This is seen as a major turnaround in the previously bitter relationship between the centrist ex-president and the country’s largest rightwing party.

“I don’t deny that I have more sympathy for the new ODS,” Havel told Lidové noviny (LN), referring to a shift in the party’s style last year, which prompted Klaus, the party’s founder, to quit.

“It seems to me that [the ODS] are now less arrogant and especially less fundamentalist,” Havel said. He explained that what he found fundamentalist about Klaus and his old ODS was their “dogmatic cult of [free] market” and their Euroscepticism, which Havel described as “pseudo-patriotism”.

The elections will take place a month before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the communist regime in November 1989. A backing from Havel, the main hero of the Velvet Revolution and a staunch opponent of sharing power with the Communists, may be a major asset.


EXTREMISTS STRIKE AGAIN. Czech president Václav Klaus suspended the jail sentence of Pavel Kudrik, whose baby daughter is in a critical condition after last week’s arson attack against the family’s house in the north Moravian village of Vítkov.

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Kudrik, who also sustained serious injuries in the fire, was arrested on Monday after two days in an Opava hospital and transported to a prison, where he was to serve a one-year sentence for theft.

The house in which Pavel Kudrik lived with his partner, four children and other relatives was set on fire on March 18 by unknown arsonists. Kudrik’s two-year-old daughter sustained potentially deadly burns an dis now fighting for her life in a local hospital. Kudrik and his partner suffered serious injuries, too.


COUNCIL OF INTELLECTUALS AGAINST EXTREMISTS. Outgoing HRs minister Michael Kocáb announced he would like to fight ultra right wing extremism in the Czech lands by establishing a special conference which will consist of prominent Czech intellectuals from all corners of life – psychologists, academics, lawyers, historians Roma and even Jewish community representatives. He would like to get the council going before he leaves his post in two weeks.

Anyone who has seen the pictures of what has been left of the house must think it makes sense and it is high time to do act.


GREEN HOMES FOR EU SUBSIDIES. The State Environment Fund (SFŽP) was swamped with enquiries on Wednesday 22 April, the first day in which people can apply for subsidies from the programme Zelená úsporám (Green Light to Saving) that will help them make their homes more energy efficient.

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The government will hand out CZK 10 billion this year and up to CZK 15 billion over the next three years to help families improve the heat insulation of their homes or to switch from coal heating to more environmentally friendly energy.

“This is the largest programme for environmental subsidies in our history,” said Environment Minister Martin Bursík when launching Zelená úsporám at a construction trade fair in Brno.


BILLIONAIRE KELLNER OUT OF TENDER. Three out of six candidates have advanced into the second round of one of the biggest tenders in Czech history – a commission worth some CZK 115 billion to clean up ecological damage. But billionaire Petr Kellner is not among them.

The Finance Ministry said earlier that the commission aims to decrease the price of cleaning up the ecological damage created before 1992. If the ecological damage was to be removed using current practices, by giving out individual commissions, the ministry says the state would not be able to meet the 2015 deadline to repair the ecological damage.


ARTIST ČERNÝ AGAINST KLAUS AND COMMUNISTS. Czech artist David Černý, the author of the controversial art work Entropa said that he plans to take down the piece as soon as the outgoing government steps down on May 9.

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Černý pointed to the fact that the interim cabinet will involve people that used to be members of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party.

“It is a protest against president Václav Klaus for what he has caused together with the social democrats and communists by dismissing the government midway through the EU presidency,” said Černý, referring to the speculation it was Klaus who stood behind the fall of the government.

One thing is clear – such a promotion worldwide that the EU Council building has receive since January will be hardly beaten by any other artist in the future. Like it or not.

PS. I happened to be in Brussels last week and I actually liked it. Have a look at only one-week old pictures of Entropa here.

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