Daily news summary

Students hold occupational strike at Karolinum demanding rector’s resignation

Students from Charles University launched an occupational strike at the university’s main headquarters Karolinum on Wednesday night demanding the resignation of the university’s rector Tomáš Zima. They filled the main entrance hall of the university headquarters refusing to budge, despite Zima’s efforts to diffuse the tension.

The student protesters hold Zima responsible for a number of managerial failings, including the university’s controversial partnership agreement with consumer lender Home Credit, which is known to support the Institute of Vaclav Klaus, a vocal denier of climate change. Following a wave of criticism, the company withdrew from the deal, but students say the rector is no longer trustworthy. They are refusing to leave the premises until he resigns.

State attorney files charges in connection with leaks of police wiretappings in 2009

A Prague state attorney has filed charges against former transport minister Vít Barta and former counter-intelligence officer Jan Petržílek in connection with information leaks of police wiretappings of conversations between former Prague mayor Pavel Bém and influential Prague businessman Roman Janoušek.

Vít, who once owned the biggest detective agency in the land, is believed to have persuaded Petržílek to leak the incriminatory wiretappings to the press for political reasons. The wiretappings suggest that the then-mayor of Prague Pavel Bém of the Civic Democrats was a mere puppet in the hands of the influential lobbyist.

Both men have previously been investigated in connection with the case. They denied any involvement in the matter.

Government to debate proposal to increase age ceiling for IVF

The Czech government is to debate a proposed amendment to the law which would increase the age at which women can undergo artificial fertilization covered by health insurance.

The ceiling which is presently 39 years could thus be increased to 40 years of age. The proposal, put forward by the Health Ministry, reflects the trend of women having children later in life.

Doctors agree with the proposal, saying that while they would not raise the set limit further, at the age of 39 to forty a woman is still capable of carrying a child without too great a risk.

Senate marks 30 years of freedom

The Senate is an essential part of the system of checks and balances, a guarantor of the constitutional order and a defender of democracy, the Speaker of the Czech upper chamber Jaroslav Kubera said at a ceremonial gathering in the Senate marking the return of freedom to Czechoslovakia thirty years ago.

Senator Kubera said it was important to defend the Senate’s raison d’étre and refute the arguments of some politicians who claim it is expensive and redundant. The Speaker of the Senate noted that although the upper chamber is made up of senators from different parties and independents it would always defend the basic values of a liberal democracy such as personal freedom and responsibility.

The Senate gathering marking 30 years since the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in then Czechoslovakia viewed a documentary on the events and also heard an address by the country’s first post-communist prime minister and later speaker of the Senate Petr Pithart.

Panel exhibition on Velvet Revolution opens in seat of European Parliament

A panel exhibition on the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution opened in the seat of the European Parliament on Wednesday. The exhibition of photographs documents the events of 1989 as well as the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the harsh normalization period that followed the crushing of the Prague Spring reforms.

EP Vice President Dita Charanzová who co-organised the exhibition together with Slovak MEP Monika Benová, said looking back at the years of totalitarianism was important so that young people would realize that freedom cannot be taken for granted and must be protected and nurtured.

Prague City Transport company gearing up for freedom celebrations

The Prague Public Transport company has announced a series of changes in city transport in connection with the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution this weekend.

In connection with a planned demonstration at Letna, which is expected to draw approximately 250,000 people on Saturday, the transport company will boost metro connections to the area as well as trams in the vicinity.

On Sunday it will reduce the number of trams in the city centre and reroute some of them in order to clear the way for street celebrations, including a procession following the route of the student demonstration which launched the anti-communist protests in 1989.

Weather forecast

Friday should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures reaching 11 degrees Celsius.