The second instalment of the Prague Pride festival of sexual minorities kicked off in the Czech capital on Monday. The festival programme offers some 80 concerts, exhibitions, parties, debates and other events. The festival, held under the auspices of Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, received backing from 11 embassies including those of the US, UK, Switzerland, and others. For their part, Czech conservatives groups have voiced protests against the festival, dismissing it as an expression of “homosexualism”. The festival will culminate on Saturday with a march through the city centre.
The Czech Supreme Auditing Office on Monday proposed to abolish the State Culture Fund, along with other similar bodies, on the grounds that they fail to fulfil their missions. The auditing authority carried out inspections in the funds, set up to provide state support in various fields including housing, the environment, and cinema. The auditors discovered that over the last six years, the State Culture Fund has not paid a single grant for any cultural project, a spokeswoman for the auditing authority said.
The operating costs of Czech health insurance companies are the lowest in Europe, according to an OECD report released on Monday. Over the last 20 years, the costs decreased from 12 to 3.2 percent of the companies’ total expenses. The OECD list of insurance firms by their operational costs is topped by Germany where the expenses amount to 6.8 percent. Experts say that operating costs in the Czech Republic were driven down by competition among various health insurers. The country’s largest health insurance company, the VZP, has six million clients, followed by the Czech Interior Ministry’s insurer, with around 1.2 million clients.
The Czech Republic’s security council will meet on Tuesday to analyze the Czech Republic’s counter terrorism strategy and learn from other countries’ know-how in helping victims of terrorism, the news agency ČTK reported on Monday. The council will also discuss drills related to terrorist threats. The meeting will be attended by President Václav Klaus in his role as the supreme commander of the Czech Armed Forces. The country’s security council last met two months ago when it discussed funding for the army at a time of government spending cuts.
Most Czechs are content with the services provided by their mobile phone operator, according to a survey by the marketing firm GfK Czech released on Monday. Nearly 70 percent of those polled expressed “general satisfaction” with their current operators; the same number of respondents said they would consider switching to a new operator if it were to offer much cheaper rates. The Czech telecommunications authority has launched an auction of frequencies which could result in the arrival of a fourth mobile phone operator at the Czech market, currently dominated by Vodafone, T-Mobile and Telefonica O2.
A concert hall in České Budějovice, nicknamed Stingray, designed by the
late architect Jan Kaplický, could be completed in 2015, the head of the
local music fans’ association said. The project, which is the Czech-born
architect’s last design to be built in his native country, is expected to
cost around two billion crowns; however, the investor of the project has
not been disclosed. The supporters of the project hope that they will
secure all permits by the end of the year and construction should begin in
December 2013. The new concert hall could then open to the public in
Jan Kaplický, who died in 2009 aged 72, also designed a new National Library building in Prague, known as the Blob. However, the project was dropped under pressure from Prague City Hall.
The police have arrested a gang of six Romanian citizens in Prague who allegedly committed a series of brutal robberies, the police said. The gang mainly targeted warehouses with construction material and electronics; they would attack the security staff, inflicting serious injuries on the personnel. On at least one occasion, they also robbed a gambling bar in Prague. The police said the damages amounted to 3.5 million crowns. If convicted, the men will face up to 12 years in prison.
A court in Prague on Monday handed pop singer Dara Rolins a suspended sentence of two years in prison for causing an accident that killed a 58-year-old motorcycle rider. The court said that the Slovak-born, Prague-based signer was driving in the opposite lane of the road when the accident happened, on the outskirts of Prague in 2010. Her car then crashed into the man who later died in hospital. The court also took the 39-year-old singer’s driver’s licence and sentenced her to pay some four million crowns in damages. Ms Rolins’ lawyer said they would appeal the verdict.
Fishermen in Tábor, in the south of the country, on Monday began removing fish from a local lake to allow for the cleaning of the lake’s basin. The fish are stunned with electricity, produced by a submersible generator, before they are relocated to a nearby river or another part of the lake. It’s not clear how many fish are in the lake which was last cleared 180 years ago, the project’s manager told the ČTK news agency. Cleaning and de-mudding the 51-hectare large Lake Jordan will cost some 375 million crowns and should be finished in 2014.
Members of the Czech Olympic Team return to Prague from London on Monday on two special flights. The first plane which arrived at Prague’s Kbely airport in the afternoon carried among others the bronze crew of the men’s four kayak; the second flight, to land at 8:30 PM, will carry gold medallists Barbora Špotáková, David Svoboda and Jaroslav Kulhavý. The Czech team won ten medals at the XXXth Summer Olympic games – four gold, three silver and three bronze medals – which ranked the Czech Republic 19th in the medal tally.