Former Social Democrat MP Petr Wolf was declared wanted by the police on Friday after he failed to turn up to begin serving his prison term. Mr Wolf, who served as a Member of Parliament between 2006 and 2010, was sentenced to six years in jail last year for having embezzled 11 million crowns from a government grant. The former politician has denied any wrongdoing and is reportedly planning to appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court.
Karel Schwarzenberg cast an invalid ballot in the election’s second round. Mr Schwarzenberg, who voted near his Central Bohemian home shortly after the polls opened at 2 PM, failed to insert his ballot in the official envelope before putting it into the ballot box, a moment captured by dozens of photo journalists. His vote will therefore be counted as invalid. Mr Schwarzenberg later said he had been disturbed by the presence of the media at the polling station.
Polling stations across the country opened at 2 PM on Friday for Czechs to vote in the second round of the historical first direct presidential election. Voters will be choosing between former Social Democrat prime minister Miloš Zeman and the current foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg. Polls will close at 10 PM on Friday and will open again between 8 AM and 2 PM on Saturday; results of the vote are expected to come in on Saturday afternoon. Czech citizens abroad began voting in the presidential runoff at Czech embassies and consulates first in the Americas, followed by Australia and East Asia. Polls in European and African countries will be open during the same hours as in the Czech Republic.
Two elderly women have died of complications caused by the A/H1N1 flu strain in the north-eastern Czech Republic, the regional hygiene officer said on Friday. A flu epidemic has broken out in several other Czech regions including Central and Southern Bohemia, Southern Moravia, and the Hradec Králové and Zlín regions, the authorities said. Around 40 people have died of flu-related causes since the Czech Republic was first hit by the epidemic last month.
Czech recipients of EU funds received nearly 403 billion crowns, or 52 percent of subsidies earmarked for Czech Republic for the period of 2007 – 2013, according to a report by the Ministry of Regional Development released on Friday. The total amount of EU funds allocated for the Czech Republic for the seven year period reached nearly 785 billion; however, the Czech authorities have registered over 92,000 individual applications for EU subsidies totalling over 1.34 trillion crowns.
The other presidential candidate, Karel Schwarzenberg, said he would file a lawsuit over an anonymous advertisement which came out in the most widely-read Czech daily Blesk on Friday, calling on readers not to vote for Mr Schwarzenberg. The advertisement included false statements about Mr Schwarzenberg’s views. Legislation on direct presidential elections prohibits anonymous advertising. Mr Zeman’s campaign has denied being behind the anonymous advertisement; however, some lawyers believe this could lead to the cancellation of the result of the vote.
Three Czech tennis players will be playing at the Australian Open finals. The mixed doubles team, Lucie Hradecká and František Čermák, will face Australians Matthew Ebden and Jarmila Gajdošová. In the junior competition, the second seeded Kateřina Siniaková will play Ana Konjuh from Croatia in the finals after the sixteen-year-old Czech beat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit in the semi-final. The last Czech who was left in the singles competition, Tomáš Berdych, had lost to Novak Djoković in the quarterfinal on Wednesday.
One of the nine first-round presidential candidates, Vladimír Franz, has announced that he will vote for Miloš Zeman in the second round of the election this weekend. Though he did tell his voters that he will not recommend which candidate they should vote for. He also said that his choice is not an explicit endorsement of the candidate. He told the website iDnes.cz that Mr Zeman seems “more readable” to him than his opponent Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Mr Franz, who is a composer and a university professor, finished fifth in the first round with less than seven percent of the votes. The third-place candidate Jan Fischer had indirectly supported Miloš Zeman as well on Monday.
The annual celebration of the beginning of the Chinese lunar New Year with the Czech actor Jaroslav Dušek and the Chinese singer Feng-yun Song has begun on Thursday afternoon at Prague’s Palác Akropolis music venue. The Chinese New Year is celebrated this year on February 10-11. An exhibition of traditional martial arts and ethnic dances as well as a musical performance were planned for the day. The organizers will hold the show in four other Czech cities in the next few days.
Two more people have died as a result of the flu on Wednesday in southern Bohemia, bringing the total number of flu-related deaths this season in the Czech Republic to 33. Around 170 have been hospitalized this season with severe flu symptoms. The last two victims were men who had been treated for chronic illnesses. The Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimír Valenta had said that 60 percent of people how have fallen ill with the flu this season are extremely overweight. Hospitals are giving sever patients antiviral medication.
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