Opposition groups on Monday announced details of their protest against the government’s austerity measures planned for May 22. Members of trade unions and several dozen NGOs, associated in the Stop the Government group, will stage a march through the capital that will end in front of the government building. The activists are also planning several other events including the occupation of several ministerial buildings which should take place in May and June while Czech trade unions are considering a large-scale strike later this month.
In related news, some 74 percent of Czechs do not agree with the reforms carried out by the country’s centre-right government, according to a poll by the STEM agency released on Monday. However, approximately the same number of people recognizes the necessity to reform the social, health care and tax systems. 24 percent of respondents said they agreed with the cabinet’s reform efforts, which is two percent more than last year.
Billions of crowns were wasted during the construction of the Prague ring road, according to an audit by the Czech Supreme Audit Office released on Monday. The ring road was originally expected to be finished by 2008 at a cost of over 48 billion crowns; however, the total costs are now estimated at 106 billion due to changes to the plans, additional construction work, and the cost of land needed for the construction which could be finished by 2020. The office filed a criminal complaint in connection with the case.
The Czech Education Ministry on Monday revised the results of this year’s school-leaving exams in maths which were considered too difficult and students were given too little time to sit them. Under the revised results, some 2.8 percent of students failed the tests while originally more than 16 percent of them failed the math exam. Education Minister Petr Fiala had earlier apologized to students for the problems.
Czechs no longer pay the highest prices for mobile calls of all OECD countries, according to a study by the Telingen consultancy firm, quoted by the Czech Telecommunications Office on Monday. In February, the Czech Republic now ranked 25th in the list of 50 countries according to the costs of mobile calling while last year, it had the most expensive calls. The change took place after Czech mobile operators began offering cheaper tariffs.
The Czech army needs to prepare for the time after the end of operations in Afghanistan, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra said on Monday at a seminar in the Senate dedicated to the Czech army’s foreign missions. Mr Vondra said that in the coming years, NATO will have to re-focus to its own defence as the United States becomes more involved in Asia.
A 3.7 kilometre-long stretch of the D8 motorway between Lovosice and Bílinka in north Bohemia opened for traffic on Monday. The new road is expected to alleviate heavy traffic within the town Lovosice. The newly-opened part of the motorway cost around three billion crowns; the complete D8 motorway between Prague and the German border should open in 2016.
The Prague Spring international music festival on Monday features a concert by the Agon Orchestra dedicated to the composer and music theorist John Cage. The concert, conducted by Petr Kofroň, will be held at the National Technical Museum among historic airplanes, cars, steam engines and other vehicles. Besides several compositions which will have their Czech premiere at the concert, the ensemble will also play John Cage’s composition Imaginary Landscape n. 4 dedicated to 12 radio sets tuned to different stations.
Two people died in a helicopter crash near České Budějovice, in the south of the country, on Monday. The accident occurred at around 2 PM when a two-seat Robinson R 22 light helicopter crash-landed in a field and caught fire, a police spokesman said. The director the České Budějovice airfield said both victims were experienced pilots. The authorities are investigating the causes of the accident.
The manager of the Czech national football team, Michal Bílek, on Monday announced his picks for the upcoming EURO 2012. The 23 nominees include Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický, goalkeeper Petr Čech from Chelsea and strikers Milan Baroš from Galatasaray and Tomáš Necid from CSKA Moscow. Coach Bílek also picked eight players from the Czech top division including midfielders Daniel Kolář, Milan Petržela and Václav Pilař from Viktoria Plzeň and the best Gambrinus Liga striker David Lafata from Jablonec. The Czechs will