During the presidential debate, Prima Family broadcasted a video where the Czech first lady Livia Klausová endorsed Miloš Zeman. Mrs Klausová said she does not want her successor to speak only German, refering to Karel Schwarzenberg’s wife who does not speaks Czech. She also said that Mr Zeman has spent his whole life in the Czeech Republic and has a relationship to the country and its people, echoing her husband’s remarks from a few days ago.
Czech ski jumper Jan Matura has won his first World Cup tournament in Sapporo, Japan. Matura became the first Czech in four years to win a World Cup ski jumping tournament. The 32-year-old took first place with 132 and 135-meter jumps, seven-tenths of a point ahead of the Norwegian Tom Hilde. Matura had his previous career record also in Sapporo two years ago when he took fourth place.
The number of victims of car accidents in Prague was at an all-time low in 2012. According to the Prague Traffic Police Chief Pavel Švrčula, 26 died in the capital in the course of last year. The number of serious injuries and the number of accidents also went down from the year before. The police were called to the scene of 17,800 accidents, which is the lowest number in the past 14 years. Though, the number of people with minor injuries went up by 50 from 2011.
The two presidential candidates - Miloš Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg - faced off in a second televized debate on Friday evening, this time on the private Prima Family channel. The atmosphere was more laid back than in the Czech Television debate the night before, but candidates took the opportunity to take stabs at each other. Mr Zeman came back to the issue of the Beneš decrees and the expulsion of Sudeten Germans at the end of World War two, which Mr Schwarzenberg described on Thurdsay as a gross violation of human rights according to today’s standards. The former prime minister strongly retorted in the Friday debate that describing a former Czechoslovak president as a war criminal is not presidential. According to some polls, Mr Zeman has been gaining more ground over his opponent in the last week, after the two finished less than a percentage point apart in the first round of the elections.
Prague’s Public Transportation Company has opened a part of the new tunnel where the extension of the A line of the underground will be located to the public. Visitors can take an hour-long tour through the bare tunnel between the future stations Veleslavín and Vypich on Saturday between 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday.
A week-long relay of protests against the presence of Communists councillors in regional governments will finish off with a protest on Saturday at Prague’s Wenceslas Square. During the so-called Palach week, protests were held in Olomouc, Ústí nad Labem, Karlovy Vary, České Budějovice and Zlín. Attendance varied between dozens and a couple of hundred people. Protesters want to warn the public against communist ideology and are asking members of the Communist Party to step down from regional council seats.
The number of deaths in the Czech Republic this season due to severe cases of the flu has gone up to 24, while the number of hospitalized is currently around 140, according to the Friday statement of the Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimír Valenta. The number of people with acute respiratory problems grew by seven percent and those sick with the flu by 60% in the second week of January. The flu epidemic has spread from western regions of the country to the east in the past few weeks. Mr Valenta noted that the decrease in the number of newly infected in the Karlovy Vary region may be a sign that the epidemic is coming to an end. But some regions are still struggling with an increasing number of patients. In the Prostějov region, in western Moravia, there were 2041 people per 100,000 inhabitants with the flu as of Saturday – well above the country-wide figures.
The Education Minister Petr Fiala met with regional governors to discuss planned changes to the financing of education that would give all regions the same amount of money per student depending on the field of study. Currently, there are different financing rules for all the regions. Mr Fiala is hoping to equalize the level of education in different regions by unifying the financing structure. The regional governments will form a working group that will work with the minister on the details of the changes.
The Prague branch of the Civic Democratic party voted on Friday to renew membership for the former Prague mayor Pavel Bém. Mr Bém suspended his party membership last March after a scandal broke out over secret phone calls between him and a lobbyist Roman Janoušek from 2007. The conversations were made public in the Czech press causing speculations that Mr Bém was influenced by the lobbyist in decisions concerning a number of public tenders. Representatives of the Prague Civic Democrats said they see no reason to keep a high-ranking member out of the party when there is no concrete proof of wrongdoing.
Dozens of people paid tribute to cyclists and pedestrians who have died in Prague as a result of car accidents by participating in a communal bike ride across the city on Thursday afternoon. Similar bike rides are organized by the civic association Auto*mat once a month to promote cycling and safer roads in the capital. This particular event was dedicated to a former member of the association Jan Bouchal, who was hit by a car in 2006 while riding his bike and died from the injuries. Auto*mat is planning to install a memorial to Bouchal and other victims of car accidents, which was designed by the contemporary Czech sculptor Krištof Kintera.
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