Some 150 Czech Romanies to be evicted over poor technical and sanitary conditions from the Prednadrazi slum in Ostrava would not leave by a set deadline, Jan Bandy, a member of the local self-rule body created by the tenants, told the Czech news agency on Saturday. The relocation was ordered by the planning and building authority on the grounds that the buildings were no longer inhabitable. Mr Bandy said the locals had instead decided implement minor repairs; Bandy said there were still some 25 families or 180 people in the houses, many of them children. Indian-born activist Kumar Vishwanathan, from the civic group Co-Existence - helping the residents - confirmed that they had opted to repair the old homes gradually.
The regional leadership of Central Bohemia will take steps to try and end a contract with one its representatives in Brussels, Marek Semerád, says news website idnes. The Social Democrat representative, reportedly 10th on the candidates’ list in regional elections in the autumn, has come under media scrutiny – and criticism from the opposition – for an unusually ironclad contract he signed with former regional governor David Rath (currently awaiting trial on corruption charges). The contract apparently can only be dissolved through mutual agreement or will remain valid until 2013. According to the daily, in addition to his official activities, Mr Semerád also conducted private business in Brussels, raising questions over potential conflict-of-interest. The official denied he had received any word the region was planning to let him go.
Senator Jiří Dienstbier, the Social Democratic Party’s nominee for president, officially launched his campaign on Friday near the presidential Lány Chateau. As part of his campaign, the candidate intends to receive backing from at least 50,000 voters. Technically, as a parliamentary party nominee, Mr Dienstbier has no need of the signatures that non-party candidates must amass in order to run. But he made clear that he felt it was a minimal requirement he would fulfil. Thirteen others are at various stages of preparing their candidacies ahead of the country’s first-ever direct presidential elections, to be held early next year. One of those aiming to get elected, former prime minister Miloš Zeman, has already received the 50,000 signatures required.
Social Democratic Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka has told Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes his party was not in crisis despite the departure of several politicians – most recently Senator Vladimir Drmyl – who crossed over to the Party of Civic Rights (the so-called Zemanovci) headed by former prime minister Miloš Zeman. The party recently jumped in opinion polls, meeting the necessary five percent threshold to make it into the lower house of Parliament if elections were held today. Mr Sobotka suggested the boost was a result of Mr Zeman’s candidacy for president adding that the party would fold or fall part “when Mr Zeman lost his bid”. He also expressed the conviction that Czechs would not elect a “face of the ‘90s”; opinion polls, however, have put Mr Zeman in second place behind early leader Jan Fischer, also a former prime minister.
Police successfully tracked down an elderly man who attacked a fellow senior at Prague’s Malostranská metro station in March. The assailant, it has been revealed, is an 80-year-old resident of Olomouc, in Moravia. He will not be charged for his role in the incident. According to available information, he could not be held accountable for health reasons; the police could not disclose additional details. In March, the attacker hit a 74-year-old man in the head with his crutches (after the latter had asked him to let him pass) that he lost consciousness near the escalator in the metro and fell. Passers-by provided first aid, and the man was also treated in hospital. The case against the attacker was suspended in June, a police representative confirmed.
Three people aboard a private helicopter, including the pilot, were lucky to escape largely without injury on Friday evening when the aircraft crashed in Poprad, Slovakia. One of those aboard was Czech, while the other two were Slovak nationals; the pilot suffered minor injuries. The accident took place at around 7:30 pm. Fuel leaked from the helicopter but emergency crews intervened. It is thought that stormy weather contributed to the crash, which officials are investigating.
Town and regional representatives as well as the Culture Ministry and private firm Incheba, signed a memorandum on Friday in Moravský Krumlov on joint cooperation on the renovation of the local chateau. The site, which is owned by Incheba, housed Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic for more than 50 years, and will receive an injection of 6.2 million in 2012. Moravský Krumlov’s Mayor Tomáš Třetina said he expected in 2014 to launch new efforts for the famous work to be returned. The Slav Epic is currently on display in Prague. Culture Minister Alena Hanáková stressed that Friday’s agreement referred in no way to Mucha’s famous cycle. She said the role of the ministry over its future would be to work as liason between Prague and Moravský Krumlov.