Sixty-eight percent of Czech households regularly sort their waste, suggests a study carried out by the STEM/MARK agency. Only 4 percent of respondents said they never sorted their waste, saying they believed that all rubbish ended up in the same place anyway. The mostly commonly sorted items are paper, plastic and glass, with sorting figures of above 90 percent, while only 42 percent of those surveyed said they separated biodegradable waste.
The renowned Czech jazz musician and flautist Jiří Stivín has said he will not appear at a special concert for President Václav Klaus that is set to take place on March 3, less than a week before the head of state steps down after a decade in office. Mr. Stivín said he has disagreed with some of the positions adopted by Mr. Klaus recently, including his criticisms of his predecessor, Václav Havel; he said if he appeared at a show “thanking” Václav Klaus it might appear he agreed with his presidency. The president has taken an active interest in a series of concerts entitled Jazz at the Castle since it began at Prague Castle in 2004.
The comedy Babovřesky has set a new Czech box-office record after selling 140,000 tickets in its opening week. The film stars the likes of Lucie Vondráčková and Lucie Bílá and is directed by Zdeněk Troška, who says its huge success is down to the fact it allows viewers to enjoy a laugh and escape from their daily concerns. Critics have received the film coolly. Mr. Troška, who has a string of successful movies to his name, has also directed operas.
The Social Democrats have filed a constitutional complaint against the law on church restitutions. The complaint is based on the argument that the scope of the restitution, which amounts to 135 billion crowns, is inflated and churches are allegedly set to receive more than was confiscated by the communist regime after 1948. Senator Jeroným Tejc, who filed the complaint in his name on Monday, noted that 7 of the 17 churches and religious groupings who are benefactors under the restitution law did not even exist before the fall of communism in 1989. The law’s critics also warn that the legislation could open the door to claims for property seized by the state before the communists took power in 1948. The restitution law, approved by Parliament late last year, envisages a transfer of land and property to the tune of 75 billion crowns and compensation money for the rest to the tune of 59 billion crowns to be paid by the state over a period of 30 years.
Police are investigating Sunday’s gas explosion in Frenštát pod Radhoštěm as a threat to public safety. The number of victims has risen to five, three of them children between the age of 3 and 8. Eleven people were injured in the explosion that completely demolished a block of flats. Two of the injured remain in critical condition. Emergency crews are still sifting through the debris in search of the last missing person. According to media reports the accident may have been caused by a man who used gas in cylinders to heat his home after having his heating cut off over unpaid bills. The man did not get on with his neighbours and had repeatedly threatened to kill everyone.
The Bulgarian authorities are looking into the electricity prices charged by Czech and Austrian power distributors following an avalanche of complaints from the public. Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev said that once it had the results of an audit the government would make a final decision on whether there are grounds for revoking their licenses. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the country on Sunday to protest against what they call excessive electricity prices set by the Czech power distributor ČEZ and the Austrian energy company EVN. There have even been demands for the country’s distribution network to be nationalized. ČEZ claims that the higher electricity bills in January reflect higher consumption over the Christmas holidays and a colder-than-usual winter. ČEZ recently had its license revoked to operate Albania’s national grid after drawn-out disputes over tariffs and unpaid bills.
There has been an improvement in the quality of air in parts of Moravia and Silesia after the regions’ biggest polluters were ordered to scale-down production. The regulatory measures introduced on Sunday have also placed restrictions on car traffic. The concentration of dust particles in the air still exceeds permitted levels, but is significantly lower that at the weekend when pollution in the worst affected areas was four times higher than norms permit. The authorities have now lifted the restrictions on producers but a smog alert remains in place.
MP Roman Pekarek has started serving a five-year sentence for corruption. The lower house deputy reported to the Hradec Kralove jailhouse amidst huge media interest on Monday morning. Mr. Pekarek made it clear he considers the verdict unfair and is refusing to give up his mandate until he has exhausted all legal means of fighting his sentence. He says he plans to petition the Supreme Court to review his case. Pekarek was found guilty of accepting a one million crown bribe for selling municipal land to a businessman under price. He is the first deputy to be sentenced to prison during his term in office. The case has led MPs to initiate a bill under which convicted deputies would lose their salary and possibly even be stripped of their mandate in future.
Former MP Petr Wolf who was sentenced to 6 years in jail for financial fraud is still on the run after failing to report to prison late last year but he is reportedly paying the penalty set by the court. He was last seen in the vicinity of his home around Christmas and the police believe he must have fled the Czech Republic. An Interpol warrant has been issued for his arrest.
A court case against 18 right-wing extremists opened in Brno on Monday. Some of the accused are members of neo-Nazi bands such as Devils Guard, Imperium or Attack. The others assisted in organizing at least 14 concerts in the years 2008 and 2009 at which they distributed the band’s CDs, leaflets, badges and neo-Nazi memorabilia. If convicted of spreading Nazi ideology members of the group would each face up to eight years in prison. It is one of the biggest court cases against neo-Nazis in the country’s modern history.