A new gas pipe called Gazela, which will connect the Czech Republic to the Russian pipeline Nord Stream, has been officially opened on Monday in the western Bohemian town of Přimda. Prime Minister Petr Nečas and representatives from Russia and Germany took part in the ceremony. The Nord Stream pipeline delivers gas to EU countries without going through Ukrainian territory, which will ensure more secure delivery and less expenditure on transit fees. The 166-kilometer Gazela pipeline was built within two years and cost around 10 billion crowns.
A cross-party group of senators have asked the Czech Constitutional Court to rule on the validity of the presidential amnesty declared on January 1 that saw over 7,000 prisoners released and halted long-running court cases, several involving massive corruption. The 29 senators want the Constitutional Court to rule out the latter part of Mr Klaus’s amnesty, arguing that it contravenes the rights of plaintiffs and hinders them from enforcing their claims. However, the court’s chief justice, Pavel Rychetský, said on Sunday that there was no precedent in the matter and that he was unsure as to whether it had the authority to rule on presidential amnesties.
World media sources have taken different approaches to reporting on the first round of the Czech presidential elections, which took place this weekend. The British newspaper The Telegraph described highest scoring Miloš Zeman as a ‘chain-smoking former communist’. The Russian media presented the upcoming second round of elections as a duel between a Russia-friendy and a russo-skeptic candidate. French and Belgian media noted a positive change to a more pro-European stance that will take place no matter who wins in the second round of the elections. While, the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung wrote on Monday that neither of the candidates who went through to the second round of elections would be as worthy as the Czech Republic’s first two presidents, Václav Klaus and Václav Havel.
Automotive production decreased by 1.7% last year to 1.174 billion cars. Despite the decline, 2012 saw the second largest automobile production in Czech Republic’s history. This is also the first decrease since 2003. Last year, car production went up by 9.5% compared to 2010, while the past decade has seen the output of the automotive industry grow 1.6 times. In the whole of Europe, the car industry suffered greater loses, with automobile production decreasing by 7%.
Another person died over the weekend in the Karlovy Vary region from the H1N1 virus, otherwise known as the swine flu. This is the second victim of this strain of the flu virus in the region this season. Sixteen people are being treated for swine flu in the region’s hospitals, with eight of them in serious condition. In the whole of the country, 16 people have died so far this season as a result of the flu, and around 100 have been hospitalized. The Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimir Valenta has made 1,440 packages of anti-viral medicine available to treat serious cases. Authorities said that none of the hospitalized patients had received the flu vaccine.
The governors of the Plzeň and Central Bohemian regions have not come to an agreement about what to do with the territory of the military training estate Brdy after the Czech army departs. Plzeň governor Milan Chovanec supports the government’s proposal that suggests dividing the territory between the two regions, while the Central Bohemian governor Josef Řihák is opposed. Now it is up to the parliament to decide on the matter. At a meeting on Monday, the two governors did agree on all other matters, including security, nature preservation measures and the development in the area. In a joint announcement, the two said they do not want to let any big developers to place large buildings in the Brdy area.
Snow has been falling heavily across most parts of the Czech Republic, for most of the day on Monday. Meteorologists have warned that as much as 15 centimeters of snow will fall over the course of the day in some areas. The wintery conditions have complicated traffic on Czech roads especially in southern Moravia where over 50 car accidents took place. In the Vysočina region there were at least 40. Rescue services in the Krkonoše Mountains have raised the hazard level to three, warning of possible avalanches.
The Václav Havel Library will start a year-long project of film marathon on Tuesday. One day a month a number of Czech and foreign films and television programs about the first Czech president Václav Havel will be shown at the Galerie Montmartre in Prague. The first screening this Tuesday will be about Mr Havel’s family and particularly his uncle Miloš Havel, who was one of the founders of the Czech film industry.
The first new minibuses will begin serving on a number of regular bus routes in Prague on Tuesday. A total of ten minibuses will operate as part of the public transport system before the end of March. The city’s public transport company wants to expand its minibus fleet, because the vehicles have a lower fuel consumption and are better sized for some parts of the city.
All the Czech tennis players who have so far played in this year’s Australian Open will be going on to the second round. Tomáš Berdych, Klára Zakopalová, Lucie Hradecká, Radek Štěpánek and a first-timer Kristýna Plíšková won their first-round matches. Tuesday will see six more Czechs play their first games at the grand slam, including Petra Kvitová and Lucie Šafářová.