The Czech government has moved, not for the first time, to try and regulate lobbying. The country at the moment is one of the handful in Europe that had no specific set of rules governing what lobbyists can do and how various decision makers, whether they are elected politicians or civil servants, can interact with them.
Criminal charges have been filed against a judge at Prague’s Supreme
Court. Ivan Elischer is accused of bribe taking, abuse of office and
preferential treatment, the chairman of the court’s panel told
journalists. Mr. Elischer has been at the court since 2013 and specialises
in serious drug cases.
He was arrested by the police’s national organised crime unit in a raid at the court building on Tuesday moring. Neither the police nor the state attorney’s office have revealed any details about the matter.
The head of state Miloš Zeman, who took the oath of office this week for
his second and final five year term, is reportedly having a concert
organized for invited guests at Prague Castle to celebrate. It is scheduled
for next Wednesday. His spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, confirmed for the
Czech News Agency that the list of invited supporters would be about 1,000
names. More is to be revealed at a press conference on Tuesday.
Mr Zeman kept a relatively low profile in recent weeks, following his narrow defeat of challenger Jiří Drahoš in the presidential race.
He came under fire for part of his inaugural speech this week in which he took aim at his political opponents and attacked the objectivity of the media including public broadcaster Czech TV.
Former student leader in 1989 and longtime head of the NGO People in Need,
Šimon Pánek, gave a somber speech before some 400 attendees at the 23rd
Prague Student Summit on Friday in which he said the the world was growing
increasingly dangerous, that democracy was weakening and globalization
between tyrants was becoming more and more the norm.
He expressed the view that the dominance of European and American influence was waning after 200 years making way for a multipolar world and suggested that authoritarian leaders and dictators were the ones taking advantage.
As an example, he pointed to many meetings between leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, asking students what they thought they talked about.
Mr Pánek was equally grim in his description of political developments on the domestic scene, referencing J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic The Lord of the Rings: "Mordor's power is growing" he said in describing the balance of power in the Czech Republic and the power bloc of the current president and the prime minister in resignation, which, in his view, was "nothing to cheer about".
The NGO head, who spoke after the US ambassador to Prague Stephen B. King and first round presidential candidate Marek Hilšer, said Czechia did not need as many new diplomats and experts as there were students at the summit but rather people who "fought for basic ideals, solidarity, were honorable and defended human rights".
The election of Communist MP Zdeněk Ondráček as head of the lower house committee overseeing the police proved short-lived. Following demonstrations across the Czech Republic and a motion for his removal, the MP stepped down of his own accord. The question now is whether the Communist Party will rethink planned support for a minority government headed by Andrej Babiš.
The lower house on Wednesday supported a proposal to increase the security
clearance for the president’s chancellor to the highest level. The
proposal, put forward by the Mayors and Independents Party, was approved in
its first reading despite ANO party and the Communist deputies voting
The proposal comes as reaction to the fact the current chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, has been holding the post despite having failed to pass the top-level security clearance. If the amendment is approved, Mr Mynář would have to get the highest level clearance by the end of the year to remain in the post of a chancellor.
On Friday Zdeněk Ondráček was elected chairman of the lower house committee that oversees the agency that investigates police malpractice. The move sparked plans for street demonstrations due to Mr. Ondráček’s past as a pre-1989 riot policeman. Now, however, ANO, who helped the Communist win the post, are set to remove him.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial Communist Party proposal for Church restitutions to be taxed. Although the bill was only passed in its first reading, support from the parties currently debating a coalition-in-the making has cast doubt on the future of a hard-won settlement between the country’s 16 churches and the State.
The Czech Republic’s position on the Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International slightly improved in 2017. The country moved two rungs up the ladder to 42nd place, acquiring 57 points out of a maximum possible 100. David Ondráčka of Transparency’s Czech branch told Radio Prague that the improvement was only slight and the country should aim to do better.
Unsuccessful Czech presidential candidate Pavel Fischer has announced he
will stand for Senate elections in the Prague 12 district as an
Fischer, who scored a surprise third place in the first round of elections with 10.23 percent of support, announced his decision on Thursday.
The former diplomat said he would like to specialise in the upper house of parliament in foreign policy, defence policy, and help for the regions. He added that he would seek support from other political parties.
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