At a press conference the German Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said on Monday that the government is expecting good relations with the Czech Republic to continue under Miloš Zeman as they had in the previous ten years. It has chosen not to react to the debate over the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia that evolved during the last two weeks of the campaign. In the meantime, the leading German daily Die Welt published an article saying that the government should not invite Miloš Zeman to Berlin, because of the anti-German rhetoric that was used in his campaign. Some other German and Austrian media have expressed similar views.
During the second round of the presidential elections this weekend, a little over three thousand ballots were found to be invalid in the Czech capital. Apparently, some of them were made invalid on purpose. Some voters placed homemade ballots into designated envelopes, indicating their preference for the cartoon character Little Mole (Krtek), for example, or the fictional theatre character Jára Cimrman. One voter placed candy into the envelope instead of the ballot.
The Czech Constitutional Court is now a judge short with the 10-year term of Justice Jiří Mucha having come to an end on Monday. This leaves the court with 12 judges, the minimum number required for it to sit. A further six judges are set to leave the country’s highest court between now and the end of the year, and experts have warned that its case load could pile up which could lead to delays in rulings. President-elect Miloš Zeman has said he hopes to be able to find candidates that would be acceptable to the Senate within a couple of months of taking office in March.
The Constitutional Court has turned down another complaint filed by the former Central Bohemian governor David Rath against the seizure of his property by the state during his criminal investigation. The court ruled at a closed hearing that there was no breach of basic legal rights during the seizure of his property and finances. Mr Rath, who faces corruption charges, has spent the last six months in custody and is awaiting trial with ten other defendants.
Some supporters of the former presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg are joining an initiative under the motto: “Miloš Zeman, you are and will not be my president.” The initiative was formed spontaneously at the Lucerna music bar in Prague, where Mr Schwarzenberg’s supporters gathered on Saturday afternoon to await election results. The initiative refuses to recognize Mr Zeman as president because its members believe he won by spreading lies during his campaign. Film director Monika Le Fay is one of the people behind the initiative which has since been supported by singers Roman Holý and Jaroslav Hutka, actor Olřích Navrátil, documentary director Olga Sommerová and others.
Famous graphic artist, Oldřich Kulhánek, died at the age of 72 on Monday morning. He is the author of the images that appear on Czech bank notes as well as many Czech stamps. A Prague native, Mr Kulhánek was detained by the Czechoslovak secret police in 1971 on charges that he slandered communist leaders with his drawings from the late 1960s. Although he was set free after a few weeks, he remained under surveillance for a number of years and was prohibited from publishing his work until the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.
Meanwhile, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has sent a congratulatory telegram to the Czech president-elect, in which he expressed his hope to further develop a political dialogue with Mr Zeman. Mr Putin wrote that in Russia, Miloš Zeman is seen as a leader who will solidify Russian-Czech friendship.
The Czech tennis captain Petr Pála has nominated the winning team from last year’s Fed Cup final to the first round of this year’s tournament. Petra Kvitová, Lucie Šafářová, Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká will face the Australian team in Ostrava on February 9 and 10. The Australians are the second most successful team in the Fed Cup history, having won the championship seven times. But their last victory was in 1974.
President-elect Miloš Zeman has retired to his home in the village of Nové Veselí in the Vysočina region on Sunday. According to a friend, he is planning to recuperate from the stress of the presidential campaign until Thursday, when he will go back to Prague. Mr Zeman asked not to be disturbed and said he will not pick-up phone calls from friends. The police are still looking for the person who spray-painted a red star near Mr Zeman’s home in Nové Veselí on Saturday night in reference to the former communist regime.
Clean-up work has begun in the town of Pardubice near the mineral oil refinery Paramo on Monday. According to pyrotechnical experts there may be up to 180 unexploded bombs from Allied air attacks during World War II in the soil. In case the bombs are discovered local authorities are prepared to evacuate the area within two hours. As many as 10,000 people may have to be evacuated from their homes, and trains going through the town may have to be stopped and potentially re-routed.
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