Czech police have reportedly secured property belonging to Social Democratic Central Bohemian governor David Rath. The former governor and Health Minister is currently remanded in prison awaiting trial on charges of corruption. Lawyers representing Mr. Rath have accused the police of doing so in order to prevent the suspect from being able to sell his property so that he might raise bail. Mr. Rath will reportedly be eligible for possible bail in mid-August. The police have thus far declined to comment on the matter.
Prague Zoo posted a pre-tax profit last year of 33 million crowns, a rise of five million crowns against the previous year, according to a newly-released annual report from the zoo. An increase in car park fees brought in 13.4 million crowns, with fears of increased costs putting off drivers apparently not realised. However, increased ticket prices appear to have confirmed fears that this would hit visitor numbers, with a record 1.37 million visitors last year expected to fall to 1.2 million this year. Overall, the zoo made 131.7 million crowns on ticket sales last year, exceeding expectations by 15 million crowns. Overall, the 2011 report shows revenues of 340 million, expenditures of 313 million and post-tax profits of 26.8 million crowns.
Sightings have been reported in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo of Czech made L-39 Albatros fighter jets being used by the regime against the local population. According to a report in the UK paper the Independent, a civilian camp in the city was deliberately target by a regime pilot possibly flying a L-39 Albatros, used by the Syrian military. A video obtained by the UK’s Telegraph newspaper appeared to confirm that the L-39s are being deployed in the fight against anti-Assad rebels. The planes were manufactured by the company Aero Vodochody in the late 60s and early 70s. They were sold by the Czechoslovakian government to various Soviet allies, including Syria, and some of these still remain in use today.
The Czech Republic won a second Olympic medal on Friday as rower Ondřej Synek came in second place in a 200m race with a time of 6:59.37. He was beaten to the gold by New Zealand’s Mahé Drysdale who came in with a time of 6:57.82. This is Synek’s second Olympic medal – he won the same medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Czech Republic’s first medal at this year’s Games was won on Wednesday by kayaker Vavřinec Hradilek.
The new owner of a 12th century castle in the village of Ralsko in northern Bohemia has been revealed as Czech businessman Milan Baier. 800 square metres around the site were recently put up for sale by the army and forest service, which hitherto administered the land. A controversial tender process ensued with an anonymous bidder emerging victorious, despite the efforts of Ralsko locals to acquire the site. In total five bidders vied for the site, with a minimum asking price of 120,000 crowns; Ralsko authorities were reportedly willing to offer 150,000 but were told that the winning bidder had offered substantially more. Milan Baier, a local from nearby Mimoň, was ultimately revealed as the new owner and has promised to keep the site accessible to the public and to consult with local citizens as repairs are carried out. But locals remain unhappy and are seeking to overturn the sale and have reportedly even appealed to Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra for help, arguing that such a historical site should remain in public hands.
A stolen 18th century baroque statue depicting an angel has been returned to the Church of St Nicholas in the Moravian town of Březová by the Czech Minister of Culture Alena Hanáková. The figure was stolen from the church nine years ago and ultimately found its way to Italy. It was there that authorities managed to recover it in the hands of an organised crime network following an investigation involving Interpol. The figure was handed by the Italian authorities to Hanáková during a trip to the country in May. 60 other works of art were also reportedly found in the hands of the criminal gang – many from churches across Europe. According to the Ministry of Culture, the statue was handed back to church representatives on Wednesday.
Randy Blythe, a member of the US heavy metal group Lamb of God, has been released from custody by authorities in Prague. The singer was arrested on June 27 as he arrived at Prague’s Ruzyňe airport on suspicion of manslaughter. Specifically, he was accused of throwing a fan off the stage during a concert two years ago. The fan later died of head injuries. Blythe arrived in June to play a concert, which was subsequently aborted following the arrest. A district court in Prague 8 then determined that Blythe be remanded in custody until his trial; this decision was overturned on appeal, with the singer now subject to a 8 million crown bail pending trial. Prosecutors had feared that Blythe, who was released on Thursday afternoon, may attempt to leave the country if released.
Some 200 Romanies living in a ghetto on the outskirts of Ostrava have been ordered to move out of their flats for health reasons. The local waterworks cut water supplies to the area last week over unpaid bills and there are reportedly problems with the sewage system. The local authorities say the flats are no longer habitable due to the atrocious living conditions. The owner of the property says he could not undertake maintenance because a growing number of tenants were not paying rent. There are 44 families living in the ghetto and many have refused to move out. The city hall has so far found alternate housing for 26 families and is looking for means to provide for the others as well.
In an analysis of a new book by the Czech-born former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the UK-based Economist magazine noted that Albright fears “small-mindedness, corruption and isolationism, be it from the EU or globalisation” in the run up to the Czech presidential elections of 2013. The book, released in April, entitled “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War” reflects on Albright’s Czech roots. The former Secretary of State is quoted as saying of the modern Czech Republic that: “This is an abnormal summer. After the Velvet Revolution, the Czechs thought it would all be much easier. And they so wanted to be a part of the west. Now they are more confused than I would have thought.” She also lamented the lack of “intellectual vibrancy” that she believes once existed during the 1968 Prague Spring or New Republic eras.
The Czech women’s doubles pair Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká have guaranteed the Czech Republic another Olympic medal by reaching the finals of their respective tournament. The pair advanced with a 6-1, 7-6 straight sets victory over US top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond. In the finals, the pair will either face Russia’s Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova or the famous US sisters Serena and Venus Williams.