Presidential candidate Miloš Zeman is widely perceived as the winner of a one-on-one television debate with his main rival Jan Fischer. Both experts and the public gave Mr. Zeman higher marks, saying he had appeared more confident, more at ease and better prepared than his rival. The two former prime ministers, who have been running neck to neck in recent polls, were also given questions in English and Russian to test their language skills. The debate organized by commercial TV Prima Family was tailored according to presidential debates in the US.
A derelict building in the centre of Beroun collapsed in the early hours of Saturday. Fears that there could be squatters buried under the debris proved unfounded, although firemen sifting through the wreckage found personal belongings, bottles and cigarette butts. According to a police spokeswoman the building collapsed due to long years of neglect and the present adverse weather conditions. It had been raining heavily in the area for several days.
Liquor sales are reported to have dropped by 10 percent in the wake of the methanol poisonings. According to the head of the Union of Spirits Producers Petr Pavlik, 2012 was the worst year for Czech spirits producers since 1990. Czechs are not only consuming less spirits in pubs and restaurants, they are also shunning home liquor brands in favour of costlier imported labels and drinking more wine and beer. Vodka sales in particular are significantly lower.
Persistent rain has resulted in local flooding in north-western Bohemia. Many villages in the Plzen, Karlovy Vary and Usti nad Labem regions are on high flood alert and firemen have been pumping water from gardens and cellars. Several smaller roads in the area have had to be closed to traffic. Although water levels have now stopped rising meteorologists are predicting more rain in the coming days.
A 32-year-old man drowned in the Morava River in Olomouc after taking a dive from a bridge in order to impress his two female companions. The trio had been drinking at a bar nearby prior to the incident. Two officers who were in the vicinity tried in vain to save the man and one of them nearly lost his own life in the rain-swollen river. Divers later found the man’s body several miles downstream.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has rejected as unfounded safety concerns over the planned completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant saying the country fully adheres to all international safety norms. In an interview for the Austrian magazine Profil, Mr. Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic would not backtrack on its plans to build two more nuclear reactors at Temelin. He dismissed safety concerns stemming from the Fukushima nuclear disaster as irrelevant saying that the last tsunami the Czech lands experienced would have been about 500 million years ago and it was unlikely to occur for several thousand more years.
A recently amnestied prisoner has been charged with the death of a 55-year-old man. The suspect has been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm resulting in death. The victim was found dead with facial wounds and other injuries. Two other amnestied prisoners have also been arrested after stealing money from a local bar within hours of being released. The broad amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus on January 1st has been widely criticized both by the government and opposition. According to the Justice Ministry it may relate to an estimated 32,000 people.
More than 80 percent of people oppose the amnesty declared by President Václav Klaus, according to an online poll by the SANEP agency. More than 40 percent of people who took part in the survey consider the amnesty an immoral and irresponsible move which legitimizes serious crime, while 20 percent believe the amnesty will help criminals with links to top politicians. Some 10 percent of those polled approve of the amnesty’s scope.
Around 7,200 Czechs living abroad have registered to vote in the upcoming presidential election, the Czech Foreign Ministry said on Friday. That is some 600 people more than those registered to vote in the previous general election. Czech expats will have to cast their ballots at the country’s embassies and consulates; voting in the Americas will begin on Thursday at 5 PM CET due to the time difference.
Tickets for a Europa League knock-out stage game between Sparta Prague and Chelsea FC, to be played in Prague on February 14, will begin on January 21, a Sparta spokesman said on Friday. The tickets will cost between 950 and 2950 crowns, or between USD 50 and 150. The club will offer discounts to season ticket holders and members of its fan club; it’s possible that no tickets for the game will be available on general sale.
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery
Valentine’s Day 1945 - When the Americans bombed Prague
Film about tragic fate of great Czech actress highlights communist atrocities in the 1950s