Daily news summary
PM calls on president not to spread animosity towards refugees
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says President Miloš Zeman should not pander to people’s worst instincts and spread animosity towards refugees. He made the comments after his spokesman said on Tuesday that the president regretted that money could not be found for children’s homes while the amount that will go to help immigrants will be far higher. Mr. Sobotka said Mr. Zeman well knew that there was no connection between the indebted Klokánek children’s homes and the Czech Republic’s part in dealing with the worst refugee crisis since the end of WWII.
Cardinal hits out at priest’s plan to take part in Prague Pride events
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Dominik Duka, has criticised priest Tomáš Halík’s plan to take part in events linked to the Prague Pride GLBT festival next month. Mr. Halík is due to host a discussion on the harassment of gays in the church and the screening of a documentary on a Polish homosexual priest. In a statement, Cardinal Duka said it would be inappropriate to hold those events as they were connected to a pride parade in which most participants were not Christians and were uninterested in improving relations with the church. Four years ago Mr. Halík described the parade as “fireworks of tastelessness and obscenity”.
One of last remaining Northern white rhinos dies at Dvůr Králové zoo
One of the few remaining Northern white rhinoceroses in the world died at the zoo in Dvůr Králové nad Labem in East Bohemia on Monday night. The rhino, a 31-year-old female named Nabire, was the only one of its kind in Europe. An official said genetic material had been taken from the animal recently as its health had begun to deteriorate due to a cyst. There are now only four surviving Northern white rhinos in existence, all of them belonging to Dvůr Králové zoo; three are in a reserve in Kenya and the other is in a zoo in San Diego, California. Dvůr Králové, which received six Northern white rhinos from Sudan in 1970, is the only zoo in the world where the animal has produced offspring.
Court rejects appeal in case of influential businessman Janoušek
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal in the case of influential Prague businessman Roman Janoušek, who is serving a four and a half-year term for hit and run, the news website iDnes said on Tuesday, quoting a spokesperson for the Prague Municipal Court. The court said appeals applications from both the entrepreneur’s lawyer and the supreme state attorney were unjustified. Mr. Janoušek was found guilty of a hit and run incident in 2012. Wiretaps published in the Czech media created the impression that he had held considerable influence over politicians in the capital.
Zeman set to make second visit to China within year for WWII memorial events
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, is planning a second visit to China within a year, Lidovky.cz reported on Tuesday. Mr. Zeman will attend events marking the end of World War II in the Pacific in Beijing at the beginning of September, the news website said. The celebrations will include a military parade but the president’s office has not specified which events he will take part in during the visit. The EU’s ambassador to China, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, said it was unlikely senior EU officials would attend the commemorations, AFP reported.
Group aiming to bring over 150 Iraqi Christians to Czech Republic
The foundation Generace 21 is seeking to bring 152 Christian refugees from Iraq to the Czech Republic. The group, which works to help Christians in Iraq and Syria, said it had presented a list of names to the government and was now awaiting approval. The foundation says it will cover the costs of the refugees’ travel if the move gets the green light. Jan Dezort of Generace 21 said a genocide of Christians was taking place in Iraq and that his association could not stand by and watch.
NGOs criticise bill aimed at combating money laundering
Anti-corruption activists have criticised a planned bill aimed at combating money laundering that will create a register of real owners of companies. In a statement on Tuesday the Centre for Independent Investigation said the legislation, which has been prepared for the Ministry of Finance by the Ministry of Justice, will not produce the desired outcome as its contents will not be complete. They and three other NGOs also say access to the data will be limited, with journalists only being able to use it to prevent “crimes and the financing of terrorism”. The Ministry of Justice said the bill was not aimed at creating a public database of firms’ ownership and power structures but at reducing money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
New association of Czech and Polish regions plans to draw on EU funds
Plans have been announced to create a new Czech-Polish association uniting regions on both sides of the border with a view to accessing European Union funds. Novum will be established with a declaration signed in mid-September at the peak of the Mount Sněžka, on the border of the two states, the governor of Hradec Králové Region, Lubomír Franc, said on Tuesday. A dispute over the name, which was originally proposed to be Nové Sudety (New Sudetes), is one reason the association was not set up last year, as originally planned.
Czech military to spend one billion crowns on rescue helicopter maintenance
The Czech military will pay about one billion crowns for the maintenance of its ten W-3A Sokol rescue helicopters between 2015-2021, Defence Ministry spokesman Petr Medek told the CTK news agency. The government is to debate the respective contract on Wednesday. The Sokol helicopters are mainly used in rescue operations, but also for humanitarian evacuations or for the transport of foreign nationals flown to the Czech Republic for treatment within the MEDEVAC programme.
Nature lovers get rare chance to admire Victoria Regia in bloom
Nature lovers descended on the Botanical Garden in Liberec on Monday night to admire the famous Victoria Regia, also known as the queen of the water lilies in bloom. There are only three of its kind on the continent and the Liberec Botanical Garden acquired this specimen thanks to the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh. The Victoria Regia lily is a rare sight and blooms for just two consecutive nights: white the first night, pink the second. After the second night, the flower closes and disappears under the water surface where the seeds ripen. Each plant can produce a number of flowers, but only one at a time. This is the first time that visitors have been allowed into the Liberec Botanical Garden at night in the garden’s 120-year-history.