Daily news summary

Havel elected president 30 years ago today

30 years ago today, on December 29, 1989, the dissident playwright Václav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia, in a vote that marked a definitive end to one-party communist rule in the country.

The dissident labelled “an enemy of the state“ by the communist regime was paradoxically elected in a unanimous vote by the country’s still communist-dominated Czechoslovak Federal Assembly.

Following the resignation of not only the communist party leadership, but also of president Gustav Husák, Marián Čalfa, a reformist communist, who then headed a so-called “government of national unity” convinced his party colleagues to fall in line and vote for change.

Fresh controversy at Konev statue

The police were called to another incident at the statue of the controversial Russian marshal Ivan Konev in Prague 6 on Saturday.

Several dozen people who turned up to pay their respects to the marshal on the 122nd anniversary of his birth got into skirmishes with the marshal’s critics, who point out that as well as liberating the country from Nazi oppression, Konev was also involved in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

The local council has already voted to have the statue moved to a different location.

The incident has sparked fresh criticism from Russia, where the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Parliament Konstantin Kosachev said “new Nazis were emerging in the Czech Republic and desecrating the memorials to those who helped defeat them.“

Household expenditures growing

The average Czech household spent 149,162 crowns per person last year, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office. Consumer spending, which includes spending on food, housing, holidays, health, transport or education, increased by 3.4 percent year-on-year.

The biggest share of the family budget is spent on housing, the second biggest amount is spent on food. The cost of food and accommodation increased by more than seven percent last year.

The only expenditures that showed a year-on-year decline were postal and telecommunication services due to lower mobile and internet tariffs.

Police investigating robbery of jewels, watches worth millions

Police are investigating a robbery of jewellery and watches worth at least 20 million crowns stolen from a store in the Arkády Pankrác shopping mall on December 16th.

The video from a security camera published by the police shows seven robbers breaking into the shopping centre in the late night hours. The break-in lasted only about two and a half minutes, giving the men time to escape before the first police officers arrived at the scene.

The police have asked the public for help in reporting anything suspicious they may have noticed.

Over 1,100 perpetrators of domestic violence barred from their homes

The police barred 1,100 perpetrators of domestic violence from their homes between January and November of this year, according to data released by the White Circle of Safety, a civic organization helping victims of domestic violence in the Czech Republic.

Under a law approved in 2007 perpetrators of domestic violence can be barred from their homes for ten days to give victims a chance to seek help and temporary accommodation elsewhere.

According to Petra Vitoušová, director of the White Circle of Safety, the police would take action against more offenders if they were better trained in recognizing domestic violence and dealing with such situations.

Inspectors focussing on fireworks sales

Inspectors from the Czech Trade Inspection Authority have started inspecting fireworks retailers throughout the country. They are focusing particularly on those who have violated the law in the past or those against whom they have received complaints from buyers.

Fireworks are sold in different categories, for users over 18, over 21 and for professionals only. The use of fireworks is moreover banned in all of the country’s four national parks, including in villages, hotels and guesthouses located in these nature reserves. Breach of the law can be fined by up to 10,000 crowns.

Weather forecast

Monday should be partly cloudy with day temperatures between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius.