The situation in Czech prisons has long been tense and threatens to lead to full-blown riots. The main problems are overcrowding, a lack of funding and the expected amnesty in connection with the election of a new head of state, after President Václav Klaus steps down in March 2013. Czech Position commentator and security expert Zdeněk Ondráček examines the dismal state of the nation’s prisons.
Among the tens of thousands of Jews sent to the Nazi concentration camp Terezín (or Theresienstadt) were 15,000 children, of whom only 132 are known to have survived the war. Pavel Weiner, a studious, erudite Czech boy, who kept a diary of his experiences in the garrison town turned “model ghetto,” was among them.
Vladimir Putin’s re-election as Russia’s president, and his absence from recent summits of the G8 and NATO, indicate a hardening of Russian attitudes towards the West, write Jana Kobzová of the European Council on Foreign Relations and Tomáš Valášek of the Centre for European Reform (CER).
While the beauty of the ruins of Antiquity have been accepted beyond the slightest doubt, more recent ruins are viewed much differently. In the exhibition Crepuscular, Romanian photographer Serban Bonciocat has taken striking images of the industrial ruins of his own country and brought them to Prague, where a similar history has led to an abundance of similarly unappreciated industrial ruins.
Leftist Czech political parties are in seventh heaven. Opinion polls conducted by the major agencies all put the Social Democrats (ČSSD) well in front should parliamentary elections be held now (and a third of the Senate seats are up in the autumn). The Communist Party (KSČM), meanwhile, is also gaining ground, ready to bank on attracting protest voters uninterested in its ideology – all the way to second place.
The Czech Republic is one of the least religious countries in the world. Oddly, though, most major cities are filled with churches ranging from historical landmarks to hidden gems. Many are only open to the public a few minutes before or after services, and some not even that much. On Church Night (Noc kostelů), these venues reach out to the general public with music, services and tours.
The Key Investments archives are a powerful weapon, both for those with something to lose and something to gain. The web of influence involved in the scandal around the dodgy brokerage goes to the summit of the Czech business-political power axes — and that’s the reason why only one token, and peripheral, culprit has been reeled in so far: former industry and trade minister Martin Kocourek.
The Slovak Poštová banka, controlled by the financial group J&T, is buying up the loans of the chemical plant Spolchemie, the most valuable undertaking of parent company Via Chem Group, from Czech banks. Any transfer of Spolchemie’s property would significantly affect Via Chem Group’s creditors, i.e. Prague 6 and Prague 10, whose blithe politicians set off down the path of risky investment with the dodgy brokerage Key Investments a few years ago.