A few hundred people opposed to the current government gathered in the National House in Prague's Vinohrady district on Saturday to listen to speakers offer alternatives to the current system of government. Among the speakers was the former head of the Public Affairs party Vít Barta, senator Tomio Okamura and the economist Pavel Kohout and representatives of the civic movement Holešovská výzva.
Tennis player Tomáš Berdych has advanced into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Sunday, beating the South African Kevin Anderson. Berdych, who has not lost a single set in the first Grand Slam of the year, dominated over Anderson with the final score 6:3, 6:2, 7:6. The sixth seeded Czech will most likely face the world number one Novak Djoković on Tuesday. The two faced each other 12 times, and Bedych beat the Serb won only one match at the 2010 Wimbledon.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.