Czech Republic 2019
Czech Republic. Parliament made a controversial decision in January to tax the compensation that churches and Jewish parishes receive for property seized during the communist era. The equivalent of about SEK 24 billion is to be paid out over 30 years, and according to the new law, the sum is to be reduced by close to one fifth. The churches reacted angrily and the matter was taken to the Constitutional Court, which rejected Parliament’s decision.
Air pollution in Czech cities is a growing problem. In Prague at the beginning of the year, the city decided on free public transport on the days when the smog is worst, hoping that commuters should leave the car at home those days.
After a preliminary investigation into corruption, the police ordered charges against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for fraud. He was accused of spending € millions in EU grants for small businesses in 2008 for his own corporate empire. Babiš said he was innocent and described the charge as politically motivated.
Protests erupted in Prague when President Miloš Zeman appointed a new Minister of Justice, who was suspected of being a tool for removing the legal threat to Babiš. The protests grew with tens of thousands of participants.
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In the elections to the European Parliament in May, Babiš’s ruling party won ANO (Disgruntled Citizens ‘Action) by just over 21% ahead of the opposition party ODS (Democratic Citizens’ Party) by 14.5%. The pirate party got close to 14%.
The EU Commission’s auditors found a conflict of interest between Babiš business empire Agrofert and Babiš’s role as head of government. According to the report, Babiš companies were not entitled to EU contributions.
The message triggered giant demonstrations in Prague, where, according to organizers, about 250,000 people demanded Babi’s departure. It was described as the biggest protest since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989. The opposition demanded distrust of Babiš in parliament in June, but there was no majority to convict him.
Prosecutors announced in September that the investigation into corruption against Babiš was closed without prosecution. However, the matter would be examined by the prosecutor. The opposition accused Babiš of exerting pressure on the judiciary.
In November, 30 years after the fall of the Communist regime, a new giant demonstration was held against Babiš and President Zeman, when about a quarter of a million people participated. Keywords were heard that reminded of the protests in 1989 and speakers from then participated again. Babiš and Zeman were accused of being Prorian and threatening democracy. Babiš had belonged to the Communist Party before 1989 and had contacts with the Czech secret police StB.
The prosecutor in December decided that the corruption investigation against Babiš would resume, after the EU Commission demanded that the Czech Republic repay EU grants. Tens of thousands of people went out again in Prague demanding the departure of Babiš.
The drummer singer Karel Gott passed away during the year. He was selected as the Czech Republic’s most popular singer over 40 times, recorded hundreds of albums and was beloved in Eastern Europe and the German-speaking countries. Karel Gott turned 90.
Prague – architecture and museums
In Prague you will find some of Europe’s best preserved buildings and urban areas from the Middle Ages and 1600’s. The district of Hradčany, with the royal castle in the center, has been built from 800-t. and has predominantly preserved its medieval structure. Among the few preserved Romanesque buildings is the St. George Monastery (grdl. 925) with the basilica. The royal castle dates from the 1200’s, and was extended with new buildings in the late Gothic style 1333-1502.
Construction of the Gothic cathedral of St. Veit began in 1344 with Peter Parler as builder 1353-99. Hradčany was later expanded with a number of baroque mansions, just as there are several baroque buildings below the castle area, Loretaklosteret with its church; Church Baroque façade built by C. and KI Dientzenhofer 1722. In addition, Černínpalæet listed in early Baroque in the latter half of 1600 T.; today it is the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
After extensive fires, the Malá Strana district was rebuilt as a wealthy neighborhood with many churches, including Jesuit Churches Sv. Mikuláš (Sankt Nikolaj, 1752) by C. and KI Dientzenhofer, in addition to almost 200 noble palaces in Renaissance and Baroque, including the Wallenstein Palace, built in 1630 by Italian builders. The Charles Bridge with the Gothic Bridge Tower is one of Europe’s oldest stone bridges. Its construction was started in 1357 by Charles IV. with Peter Parler as architect; the bridge was later adorned with statues of saints.
The center of the medieval district, Staré Město, is the square Staroměstské náměstí with the old town hall, a larger building complex (1300-1500); here is the Jan Hus monument (1915) and a famous astronomical clock from the 1400’s. Next to the square is the Týnský chrám (Týn or Tejn Church), a mighty Gothic edifice built from the mid-1300’s, and completed in 1511, though with later baroque additions; Tycho Brahe was buried here in 1601.
The Late Gothic gunpowder tower (1503) is part of the old fortification. The Josefov district, formerly Jewish, was completely redeveloped in the late 1800’s, and only twelve buildings, including six synagogues, were preserved, including the Old New Synagogue, Staronová synagogue, which was built in the 1200’s, and is the oldest in Central Europe. Here you will also find the old Jewish cemetery with 12,000 tombstones from 1300-1800.
On the border of the Nové Město (founded 1348), the commercial center of Prague, one finds the Obecní dům (City House, 1911), the Prague House of Culture with concert hall. After countless demolitions, Nové Město appears as a modern district, where especially the Art Nouveau style paints the street scene, eg Grandhotel Europa (1906) on Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square), Prague’s main street.
A residential complex in Neklangaden, built in 1913 by J. Chochol (1880-1956), is a rare example of Cubist architecture. Prague has a number of significant buildings in international modernism, such as the Veletržní palác (Trade Fair Palace) from 1928, designed by J. Fusch (1894-1979) and O. Tyl (1884-1939). Today, the building houses the National Gallery’s collections of modern Czech and European art. In the 1990’s, an office complex by Frank Gehry and V. Milunić.
Among the city’s museums can be highlighted the large state collections in the Národní gallery (National Gallery), which are scattered in a number of buildings in Prague, including with Baroque and Mannerist art in St. George’s Monastery and medieval art in St. Agnes’ Monastery. In addition, the Sternberg Palace with older European art, the National Museum, the Jewish Museums in Josefov as well as the Alphonse Mucha Museum and the Franz Kafka Museum.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Czech Republic in 2019 was 10,689,098, ranking number 86 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.220% yearly, and the population density was 138.3896 people per km2.