Czechs on Sunday mark the 94th anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia, observed as a national holiday. Several events commemorate the establishment of the precursor of modern-day Czech Republic; a ceremony with a military oath was held at the National Memorial at Vítkov; another ceremony was hosted by the National Museum in Prague. The celebrations conclude with a ceremony at Prague Castle hosted by President Václav Klaus.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will miss the evening’s ceremony at Prague Castle where President Václav Klaus, for the last time as head of state, presents state honours and decorations to distinguished personalities. A spokesman for the prime minister said Mr Nečas could not attend the event for health reasons while Mr Schwarzenberg told the news website lidovky.cz he was out of Prague for the day, adding it didn’t really matter whether politicians attended the ceremony.
A leader of the coalition TOP 09 party, Finance Minister Miroslav
Kalousek, said his group would only participate in a government led by the
current prime minister, Petr Nečas. Speaking on a Czech TV channel, Prima,
on Sunday, Mr Kalousek said his party would also leave the coalition if the
lower house of Parliament next week makes changes to the government’s tax
Mr Kalousek’s statement comes at a time when Mr Nečas finds himself under pressure from within his party, the Civic Democrats, and a week before he runs for re-election as party chair. Some Civic Democrat MPs, who have refused to back the government’s plant to raise VAT rates, have called for Petr Nečas to step down as party leader.
Wet weather combined with freezing temperatures continue to cause problems in many parts of the country on Sunday. Meteorologists have warned of ice that will be forming on roads and pavements. The authorities advise motorists to drive with extra caution, particularly in mountainous regions where roads are still covered with snow. Several roads and train lines are still closed due to snow and fallen trees. Freezing weather has also claimed its first victim this season; a 45-year-old man who was found lying in the street in the southern town of Tábor on Saturday night, died in hospital of hypothermia.
The police have arrested a man and a woman suspected of murdering a Vietnamese shop owner, a police spokeswoman said on Sunday. The police believe the pair entered a food shop in the Prague district of Horní Měcholupy on Thursday night shortly before 4 PM. The woman pointed a gun at the shop owner and demanded cash; when he refused, the woman’s accomplice stabbed him and both of them ran away. The Vietnamese shop owner died of his injuries while being transported to a hospital. If convicted, the suspects face up to 20 years in prison.
A court in Zlín, in the east of the country, has ruled that two men suspected of distributing methanol-laced bootleg liquor. According to media reports, one of the men ran a firm which supplied untaxed spirit to bootleg liquor producers; the other was allegedly involved in distributing illegal alcohol. At least 30 people have died in the country after drinking bootleg alcohol contaminated with methanol. Last month, the police arrested two men who face charges for having produced the deadly beverage and released it into distribution.
Sparta Prague defeated reigning Czech champions Liberec 2:1 in the highlight of the 12th round of Gambrinus liga on Sunday. Sparta went ahead in the 32nd minute when Jiří Jarošík found the net after a corner kick, and the hosts added another strike half an hour later when Sparta’s Ondřej Švehlík scored after another corner. In the 75th minute Liberec’s Jan Blažek set the final score at 2:1. Sparta is ranked second with 23 points, behind Jablonec in first place on goal difference. Liberec remains seventh.
Heavy show hit most part of the Czech Republic on Saturday, causing disruption in traffic and electricity supplies. Ice has formed on roads in the most affected regions of Krknonoše and Krušné Hory in the north and north-west of the country while several railway lines including a major Prague-Ústí nad Labem route – were blocked by fallen trees. The authorities have also warned of snow-related delays on some of the country’s highways including the D1 motorway between Prague and Brno. Dozens of homes, mainly in eastern Bohemia, have been cut from electricity supplies.
The governments of the Czech Republic and Slovakia are to meet at a joint session on Monday, for the first time since the breakup of Czechoslovakia. The session will be held in the Czech town of Uherské Hradiště before moving on to Trenčín, in Slovakia. Czech and Slovak ministers will discuss cooperation of the two countries in the areas of security, energy, transportation and justice. The event will take place a day after the Czech national holiday marking the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918.
A week before the senior coalition Civic Democrat party’s election congress, Prime Minister and party chair Petr Nečas has warned against the fall of his government, the news website parlamentnilisty.cz reported. In a letter to members of his party, Mr Nečas said the cabinet would fall if agreement is not reached among Civic Democrat MPs on some of the government’s planned steps such as raising the VAT rates. The prime minister also analyzed his party’s overwhelming defeat in the recent Senate and regional elections which he blamed on the government’s failure to convince voters the country was moving in the right direction.