Three streets in Prague’s Dolní Chabry district will be named after Czech hockey players who lost their lives in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy last year. Josef Vašíček, Jan Marek, Karel Rachůnek and 40 others (including crew members) on board their plane died at the scene when the aircraft crashed during take-off; one of two survivors died later in hospital. All three of the Czech players were added to the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame last year; the decision to name streets in their honour was taken by the Prague council.
The Czech Union for Nature Conservation has expressed concern that Šumava National Park could decline as a result of an Environment Ministry plan, which – it says – will enable uncontrolled construction and put local town interests above nature conservation. The union’s chairman Libor Ambrožek, a former environment minister, told the Czech news agency that conservation in the national park would decline to such a degree it would no longer meet national park criteria. The organisation has sent an open letter to politicians, political parties, as well as the Association of Towns and the Association of Regions to try and fuel broader discussion. Under the bill, the most-protected area of the park, which forms 22.1 percent, will be allowed spontaneous development with a further 8.9 percent being added. The Czech news agency reported that over 45 years the most protected zone will grow to 24,000 hectares. Critics nevertheless charge that other interests in the area are being given equal treatment as nature conservation. A provision in the bill, for example, allows for the construction of a ski lift in another part of the park.
The executive board of the Czech Civic Democrats have called on Prime Minister Petr Nečas and party members to side strongly against the Czech Republic joining the planned European banking union. Many members of the Civic Democratic Party are warning that a Europe-wide banking union would be a step towards further EU integration and possible changes in European treaties. The European Commission is expected to submit a proposal of the banking union in the first two weeks of September. The union could potentially be one of the bigger issues debated ahead of regional and Senate elections to be held in the Czech Republic in the autumn.
The first deputy to the environment minister, Jakub Kulíšek, died at the weekend at the age of just 31. The deputy minister was in charge of the economics and environmental policy at the ministry, a position he had held for less than a year. The spokesman for the ministry said his death was sports-related; news website iDnes cited sources as saying Mr Kulíšek drowned during a kayaking trip on the Austrian river Enns in Styria. The environment minister, Tomáš Chalupa, expressed sorrow over the tragedy, calling it "a huge loss".
According to a poll conducted by PPM Factum Research, Czech presidential hopeful Miloš Zeman is trailing Jan Fischer by only 1.4 percentage points. The agency announced today that the August figures are a jump from a poll conducted in July, which had Jan Fischer 4 percentage points ahead of Mr Zeman, a former prime minister. The third place, according to PPM, is currently held by the economist Jan Švejnar, who has not announced his candidacy yet. The current poll suggests that none of the candidates would get more than half of the votes in the first round of the direct presidential elections, which will take place for the first time this winter. As a result, top two candidates will go on to the second round. Jan Fischer, the former head of the Czech caretaker government in 2009, announced on his Facebook page on Monday that he has the 50,000 signatures necessary to enter the presidential race. Mr Zeman had done the same earlier.
Czech-American writer and illustrated Petr Sís was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen award on Saturday as an illustrator whose work has made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. The Hans Christian Andersen Award, given out by Swiss-based International Board on Books for Young People, is the highest international recognition for authors and illustrators of children's books. Mr Sís has joined the ranks of famous children’s books authors such as Astred Lindgren, Tove Jansson and three Czech illustrators who received the award in 1968, 1980 and 1992. The two of the books written and illustrated by Petr Sís that made him famous in the Czech Republic are The Three Golden Keys and The Wall, both were published in both English and Czech.
Tomáš Sedláček, a Czechoslovak army general, World War II veteran and political prisoner under communism, passed away on Monday in Prague at the age of 94. A professional soldier before the war, Mr Sedláček escaped occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. He trained in the British armed forces during World War II and fought on both western and eastern fronts. Settling in Prague after the war, he was arrested in 1951 by the Communist Military Intelligence and received a life sentence for conspiracy. He was released under an amnesty in1960 and later rehabilitated.
The Czech Supreme Audit Office discovered inconsistencies in the Education Ministry’s accounting for last year. An audit at the ministry found that expenses worth 117.2 million crowns were not properly accounted for. The Supreme Audit Office also says that there were significant problems with the ministry’s property management. The total cost of all the inconsistencies revealed by the audit was established to be over 29 billion crowns. The Education Ministry claims that it did not breech the law or budget restrictions, and that the problems were the result of only formal mistakes of its accounting department.
The Czech Environmental Inspectorate issued a fine of 450 thousand crowns to the Šumava National Park in southern Bohemia on Monday. The national park administration is being held accountable for disturbing the nesting of the wood grouse, using biocides to exterminate bark beetles and creating clearings near a lake in the Klatovy region. The harmful actions were taken in the years 2010 and 2011, under the administration of former park directors František Krejčí and Jan Straáský. The National Park is planning to appeal the decision and fine.
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