A Czech military pilot died on Thursday after his fighter plane crashed west of Kolín in central Bohemia. The pilot was returning to base from exercises when his Czech-built L 159 one-seater aircraft came down in an unpopulated area and burst into flames, a spokesperson for the General Staff told reporters. His body was found in the wreckage. The cause of the crash is being investigated.
A Czech government bill to return billions of dollars worth of property confiscated from churches under the Communist regime is set to go into effect, after the president, Václav Klaus, said that he had not vetoed it. However, neither did the president sign the legislation, saying he wished to distance himself from the plan, which has proven divisive among Czech society. Under the bill, the state will return part of the land and property seized by the Communists in the 1950s, while it will repay the rest of the original value in the form of monetary compensation over a period of 30 years. Both the Social Democrats and the Communist Party say they will take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
The Ministry of the Interior is preparing to announce which of 20 aspirants to the post of president have fulfilled the requirements to win a place on the ballot in January’s first direct election. Some would-be candidates may be disqualified for having false signatures among the 50,000 minimum required to stand if they do not have the support of a party in parliament. Which aspirants have made the cut will be announced on Friday afternoon. Those denied a place on the ballot have until the middle of next week to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has written to his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papulias, asking him to devote special attention to the case of two Czechs detained in Greece on suspicion of espionage. Mr. Klaus described the arrests as unfortunate and called on the Greek head of state not to allow the matter to cast a shadow over their two states’ excellent relations. Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar, who are computer game developers, have been behind bars since September, after allegedly taking photographs of a military facility on the island of Lemnos.
The art group Ztohoven have sparked controversy by inviting gallery goers to send anonymous mobile phone text messages to Czech politicians. Their installation Moral Reform in an exhibition at Prague’s DOX Centre of Modern Art features the mobile numbers of numerous politicians and a free, untraceable phone. One target, the minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, told the iDnes news website that he had received hundreds of SMSes, some of them vulgar and threatening. Mr. Kalousek said, however, that he had had his number for over a decade and had no intention of changing it. Ztohoven have frequently come into conflict with the law; one member, Roman Týc, was imprisoned for a month this year after amending traffic lights to show the red and green figures in various poses.
A zookeeper was attacked by a white tiger at the zoo in the north Bohemian town of Liberec on Thursday morning. He sustained head injuries but his life is not in danger, a spokesperson for the local emergency services said. Two other zoo employees were slightly hurt as they tried to rescue their colleague. After the attack, the escaped seven-year-old tiger moved about the zoo for about an hour before being tranquilised and recaptured. Liberec zoo is known for its white tigers, a rare breed believed to no longer exist in the wild.
The Czech Republic’s first car park spots designated for women have been created at a branch of the fast food chain McDonalds in Prague, the news website novinky.cz reported on Thursday. The places reserved for women – which are located in relatively areas near main buildings – are intended to increase users’ safety by reducing the risk of attack. A spokesperson for McDonalds said the special spots were in line with EU voluntary guidelines and were common in some European states.
A regulation under which casual workers have to undergo a medical examination even if they will only hold a job for one day has been voted the “Absurdity of the Year” in a poll conducted by the business daily Hospodářské noviny. If firms hire the same person for a second day’s work at a later date they are required to get a fresh doctor’s certificate. The annual survey is intended to highlight nonsensical administrative duties forced on businesses by state agencies.
November 22 is the 100th anniversary of the opening of one of Prague’s best-known buildings, the Municipal House (Obecní dům). A popular landmark today, its combination of the French Baroque style with Art Nouveau decoration split opinion among architects and the city’s residents at the time of its opening in 1912. The Municipal House was originally conceived as a cultural centre and it remains one, hosting concerts at its grand Smetana Hall and occasional exhibitions. It is also home to a Viennese style café and a French restaurant.
Two Czech soccer clubs have their sights set on reaching the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday night. Viktoria Plzeň, who face the Portuguese side Academica de Coimbra away, need only one point from their last two group games to go through. Sparta are in the same position, but they will face an arguably tougher opponent on Thursday in the form of France’s Olympique Lyonnais, who they will be hosting in Prague.