The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Tuesday honoured the late president, playwright and human rights advocate Václav Havel. MPs held a minute of silence and the speaker of the house, Miroslava Němcová, read out some of Václav Havel’s quotes. The lawmakers also listened to an address by Václav Havel to the lower house from 2003. The ceremony concluded with the Czech national anthem.
The Czech lower house on Tuesday passed a new bill allocating revenues
from gambling to the state and municipalities. If the bill is signed into
law by the president, municipalities will keep 80 percent of revenues from
gambling machines and the rest will go to the state budget. Local
authorities will also keep 70 percent of revenues from casinos, lotteries
and other games. The new legislation should enter into force in January
The gambling taxation bill, part of the government’s tax reform package, was originally approved by the lower house in November but left a loophole for lottery firms to use part of the revenues for charitable projects of their choice. The bill was amended in the Senate which removed the loophole before returning it to the lower house for the final vote.
President Václav Klaus has appointed MP Alena Hanáková the new culture minister. Ms Hanáková is a member of the Mayors and Independents Party which is associated with TOP 09 and was formerly the mayor of the Moravian town of Vizovice. Her main task in heading the Ministry of Culture will be completing the restitution of church property. She replaces fellow party member Jiří Besser, whose departure from the cabinet last week was compelled by the fact that he had failed to report property and business interests in the United States in his property statement.
The Czech writer Hana Andronikova died of cancer on Tuesday, aged 44, the management of Prague’s Archa Theatre said. Ms Andronikova wrote her first novel, The Sound of the Sun Dial, in 2001, and won several awards for it, including the Magnesia Litera award for best debut. Her most acclaimed novel Heaven Has No Floor, which came out in 2011, describes her struggle with cancer. Hana Andronikova also authored several theatre plays.
The Czech opera singer Václav Zítek died on Tuesday at the age of 79, a spokesman for the Czech National Theatre said. Václav Zítek’s refined vocal performance made him an exceptional singer particularly in pieces by Bedřich Smetana. The baritone singer spent 25 years as a soloist in the opera of Prague’s National Theatre. In 2007, he received the prestigious Czech theatrical award, Thalia, for life time achievement.
The mining companies Czech Coal wants to build a new coal-fired power plant and connect it to the power grid by 2021. The firm has signed a contract with the grid’s administrator for the capacity of 660 MW. The new power plant, which should cost around 30 billion crowns, could be built near the town of Most, in northern Bohemia. The Czech branch of the environmental organization Greenpeace said the plan to build a new coal-fired power plant was unacceptable.
Czech football defender Tomáš Řepka quit Sparta Prague on Tuesday, after he agreed to prematurely terminate his contract in the club. The 37-year-old former Sparta captain will be a free agent since January; however, it is not clear if and where the defender will play after that. Tomáš Řepka played for a number of Czech clubs before spending three seasons in Italy’s Fiorentina and five years in the English club West Ham United. He returned to Sparta in 2006. Between 1993 and 2003, Řepka played 45 matches for the Czech national team but throughout his career, he has had disciplinary problems, often lacking self-control. He received a total of 18 red cards, and on one occasion attacked game officials and a TV crew.
The Czech Republic will hold three days of national mourning for former
dissident and leader Václav Havel, who died on Sunday. Mr Havel paved the
way for democracy in Czechoslovakia in 1989 and was the leading figure of
the Velvet Revolution. Speaking at a press conference after an
extra-ordinary government meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas
said the cabinet wanted to honour Mr Havel not only as the first
post-Communist president, but also as a symbol of all-encompassing change
in society. During the mourning period, flags on public buildings will be
lowered to half-mast and a minute of silence will held at 12 pm on Friday
in Mr Havel’s memory.
A moral icon and symbol of the modern Czech state, former president Havel died on Sunday morning at the age of 75 after a protracted illness. The former dissident, playwright and politician passed away in his sleep at his country house Hrádeček, in northern Bohemia, tended to by his wife Dagmar. Mr Havel’s health had deteriorated in recent months, forcing him to limit his public appearances. The last time he appeared in public was last week, when he received the Dalai Lama during his Prague visit.
During the national days of mourning, all casinos and betting agencies will remain closed; there is a possibility also that sports events may be cancelled. In addition, organisers have been asked to gauge the appropriateness of planned public events and the media have been asked to carefully consider broadcast content. The cabinet is also preparing a special bill in the name of the former president, recognising his merit in leading the country out of totalitarianism to freedom and democracy.
Václav Havel will be given a state funeral on Friday, December 23, at Prague’s St Vitus Cathedral. The ceremony will begin at noon. The location was confirmed by Radim Ochvat, spokesman to President Václav Klaus, after details were agreed on Monday by Mr Klaus in a meeting with Mr Havel’s widow, Dagmar; the Archbishop Dominik Duka was also present. Two who have already confirmed attendance include US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former US president Bill Clinton. Former Polish President Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity movement in the 1980s, will also attend and other expected guests – who have yet to confirm – include the Austrian, German, and Polish presidents and German chancellor Angela Merkel.