Prague’s metro line A will be out of service throughout the upcoming extended weekend. The entire length of the “green line” from Depo Hostivař to Dejvice will be closed while switches are changed in the Náměstí Míru and Dejvická stations. The closure was planned for a period when many Praguers will be out of town, but will nonetheless affect an estimated 50,000 people. Special tram and bus lines will be in place, including an X-A tram line which will mirror the metro line.
The number of new HIV patients in the Czech Republic grew nearly as much in the last eight months as in the previous year. According to records from the State Health Institute, 145 people were diagnosed with the virus between January and August compared with 153 new cases in 2011. The institute expects the year to close with more new cases than in the worst year to date, 2010, when 180 new cases of HIV appeared.
The director of the National Theatre in Brno has resigned, protesting underfunding. Daniel Dvořák, who has led the theatre since 2007, said the lack of funding was preventing its development and that attempts to run the institution politically rather than with expertise were ineffective. The City of Brno already opened a tender for Mr Dvořák’s position and he had intended to vie for it again. He added that poor funding and the lack of interest in city hall to resolve it were removing options that are standard for theatres elsewhere in Europe.
An historic Czechoslovak-built tank has been returned to Prague 63 years after being sold to Peru. The LTP 38 was designed specifically for Peru and its high-altitudes in the 1930s. The Czech Republic had long sought the donation of one of the eight remaining tanks, some of which reportedly served until the 1970s. The Czech Military History Institute eventually reached an agreement with the town of Mollendo, which owned one of the tanks, in exchange for funding for a new local library. The vehicles saw action in 1939, just months after they were purchased, in subverting a military coup, and also in the 1941 war with Ecuador.
The management of the Krkonoše National Park says a pack of five wolves has been spotted on the Czech side of the border. Locals sighted the animals in the eastern part of the mountains, which are the highest in the Czech Republic. Specialists believe they most likely came in from nearby Lusatia in Germany, where the critically endangered species was reintroduced. Wolves were a common part of the local wildlife in the mountains until the 19th century. The last animal was shot in 1842.
The National Gallery has opened an exhibition of the work of artist Theodor Pištěk in its collection of modern and contemporary art in Prague. The first floor of Veletržní palác will be dedicated to 60 years of paintings, sculptures and interior designs by the artist, who is perhaps best known for his Academy Award winning costumes for Miloš Forman’s 1984 film Amadeus. The exhibit, entitled “Ecce Homo”, will run until January 6.
The Czech government is expected late Wednesday to announce concrete steps to ease the ban on spirits. As a result, newly-produced hard liquor – marked with new tax stamps – could be allowed on the market within a matter of days. Restaurant owners and salespeople are to be given 60 days to acquire certificates for alcohol they have in storage. Alcohol without certification is to be destroyed; previously opened bottles at drinking establishments must also be poured out.
The sale of alcohol without proper certification will, in the future, be classified as a serious crime in the Czech Republic, Health Minister Leoš Heger has said. He made the statement on Wednesday even as the government prepared to discuss the lifting of restrictions on the sale of alcohol 20 percent or stronger. The health minister added that the state would run random checks of venues to ensure the law was respected; he estimated that an average of around ten percent of sellers would come under scrutiny. Mr Heger also expressed hope that the threat of committing a serious crime would have a deterring effect. He equated the selling of tainted or methanol-laced alcohol with premeditated murder.
In related news, alcohol producers who applied several days ago for new tax stamps were able to get them up as of Wednesday morning at customs offices. The spokeswoman for the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic, Martina Kaňková, said that as of Tuesday evening the bureau had received requests for 28 million stamps. The new stamps are printed red and feature the Czech word for ‘new’ (nový) to clearly differentiate newly-produced bottles of hard liquor from bottles produced ahead of the methanol crisis. Twenty-six people in the country have died as a result of drinking methanol-laced alcohol allegedly produced by two main suspects who are in custody. Scores of others along the distribution chain were also charged by police.
Leading toxicology expert Daniela Pelcová of the General teaching Hospital in Prague has warned that even patients who survived methanol poisoning in the recent outbreak – and were released from hospital without permanent damage – could develop related health problems later in life. In an interview for the Czech news agency, the specialist stressed that neurological problems or problems with eyesigh, related to the original poisoning, could surface later. Ms Pelcová referred to an Estonian study that showed that problems in some patients surfaced as much as six years later; at the same time, she admitted the results of the study were not conclusive; other outside factors could have had an effect.