A new exhibition of pictures of the late ex-president Václav Havel is set to open in the Prague City Gallery on Old Town Square on June 15. On display will be mostly photographs taken during his time in office – shots from his official visits abroad but also those that were taken behind the scenes. The exhibition has been organized by the Czech News Agency ČTK in memory of the late president. The agency has some 12,000 pictures of Mr Havel in its archives. The exhibition runs through July 6th.
Czech national team coach Michal Bílek on Tuesday presented his picks for the European Football Championship. Among the 23-man squad are Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický as well as Chelsea’s Petr Čech. Rosický is still recovering from a calf injury but the national team coach says he is confident that his condition will have improved by the time the championship, co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine, kicks off on June 8. The Czech Republic faces Russia in their first game on June 8, followed by Greece and Poland in the group level of the tournament.
Czech soccer star Petr Čech has extended his contract with Chelsea until the year 2016. Commenting on his new contract, Čech said he hoped the next four years with his club would be as successful as the last eight had been. Since joining the Premier League in 2004, Čech has made over 360 appearances, won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups. In the recent Champions League finals, Čech helped secure Chelsea’s victory by saving three penalties, one in extra time and two in the shootout. His new contract makes him one of the 20 best-paid soccer players internationally.
President Václav Klaus has endorsed former prime minister Miloš Zeman, who is planning to run for president in next year’s elections, the daily Mladá fronta dnes reported on Monday. Mr Zeman was an important figure in Czech politics and his candidature a logical step in his career, the Czech president said. He added that candidates for the post of president should be people who had done something for the country and that Mr Zeman was among them. Commenting on the president’s endorsement, Mr Zeman said that he appreciated his support. A group of ten senators have nominated Mr Zeman as their pick for the presidential race. However, they have yet to collect 50,000 signatures to make his candidature official.
Members of the opposition Social Democratic Party have complained that police overly target members of the opposition. Referring to the arrest of MP David Rath two weeks ago, deputy party chairman Jeroným Tejc told a debate programme on Czech Television at the weekend that the police were sending a signal that those who stole or were corrupt would go to prison if they were not in the government coalition. While allowing that Dr Rath is probably guilty, Mr Tejc and other Social Democrats have complained that corruption cases tied to the government parties – Promopro or Opencard – have cost hundreds of millions in public funds and have not been dealt with as vigorously.
In continuing fallout from the arrest of former governor of Central Bohemia David Rath, the region has decided to scrap problematic tenders worth two billion crowns. The projects include the reconstruction of the Bustehrad chateau, the financing of which was apparently at the centre of Dr Rath’s bribery charges. Other projects involve subsidies for hospitals in Kladno and Pribram, and for Rath’s town of Hostivice. Nearly 20 tenders for road repairs were also cancelled. Police arrested David Rath two weeks ago immediately after he received what they believe was a seven-million-crown bribe.
Voter preference for the opposition Social Democratic Party has waned in the wake of the David Rath scandal, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency. The survey suggests that the party, in which Dr Rath was the shadow health minister, lost nearly three points to 23% over the last month. Meanwhile, right-wing party preference has increased slightly. Four parties would cross the 5-percent parliamentary threshold, STEM SAYS: the Social Democrats, followed by the senior government Civic Democrats, the Communists and TOP 09. Election turnout would be 53%; one-fifth of respondents said they would definitely not go to elections and 27% were undecided.
Anti-corruption police have arrested seven people in connection with a 500 million crown tax fraud case. The police say the group faked the purchase of cards for a prepaid internet webhosting service, Ikropolis.com, then fictitiously sold the cards to Slovakia and filed for over-taxation. In all, 17 people are under suspicion in the case, which the police say is an entirely new method of tax fraud. They face up to ten years imprisonment if convicted.
Police have charged former industry minister Martin Kocourek with damaging a creditor. While the police did not state what case the charges apply to, Mr Kocourek was found late last year to have transferred 16 million crowns under unusual circumstances. Anti-corruption police are still investigating that case. Mr Kocourek’s ex-wife filed charges against him when he said that he had moved the money to an account of his mother’s in order to keep them out of his divorce settlement.