The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, has raised the possibility of a deal with President Miloš Zeman on the appointment of ambassadors, an issue on which the two men have been at loggerheads. In a newspaper interview, Mr. Schwarzenberg said he would propose Communist Party MEP and former cosmonaut Vladimír Remek, who enjoys Mr. Zeman’s support, for the post of envoy to Moscow, if the president approved his suggestions for other ambassadorial positions. In a separate interview, the foreign minister said former defence minister Alexandr Vondra would make a good ambassador to Israel. However, he has insisted that former first lady Lidia Klausová, who Mr. Zeman is pushing, is not qualified to become Czech ambassador to Bratislava.
The Czech soccer captain Tomáš Rosický scored both goals for Arsenal in a 2:1 win over West Bromwich Albion in an English Premier League game on Saturday. They were his first league goals of the season. The midfielder, who is 32, had headed a shot of the line to prevent a West Brom lead when the score stood at 0:0. Rosický has said he will consider his future at Arsenal in the summer, after not being a regular starter this term.
A 56-year-old woman died from methanol poisoning in a hospital in Orlová, north Moravia on Friday. She was the 25th victim of methanol poisoning in the Moravia-Silesia Region, while over 40 people have died around the Czech Republic since the first such death last summer. The Ministry of Health imposed a ban on sales of all spirits for a two-week period in September in a bid to deal with a health crisis stemming from illegally-produced poisonous booze. Police are still warning against the consumption of old bottles of spirits and of alcohol of uncertain provenance lacking the correct stamps.
The Czech Republic are leading 2:1 on matches against Kazakhstan in the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup. On Friday, the Czechs – who are without the country’s men’s number one, Tomáš Berdych – got off to a perfect start when Jan Hájek and Lukáš Rosol won their singles matches to open up a 2:0 lead. However, in Saturday’s doubles rubber Hájek and Radek Štěpánek were beaten 7-6 6-4 6-3 by Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin. The Czechs are the defending Davis Cup champions after taking the trophy in Prague at the end of last year.
The Ministry of Transport has played down a report in Mladá fronta Dnes suggesting that it is proposing the creation of central register of bicycles in a bid to reduce the number of thefts. A ministry official said on Saturday afternoon that the idea was only aimed at fostering debate on the issue of bicycle thefts. The prime minister, Petr Nečas, had said earlier in the day that a register of that type, which would cost around CZK 20 million, would only increase bureaucracy. Last year nearly 8,000 bicycles were stolen in the Czech Republic, where the total number of bikes is around 4 million, Mladá fronta Dnes said.
Around 12,000 people took part in the Prague Half Marathon on Saturday. The race was won by Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea in a time of 1:00:10, meaning organisers’ hopes of a world record in the 15th edition of the race were dashed. The fastest of the women was Kenya’s Gladys Cheron, who set an event record of 1:06:47. The full Prague Marathon takes place on May 12.
Saturday marks the 135th anniversary of the foundation of the Social Democratic Party, which is today the Czech Republic’s largest left-wing grouping. The party was established at the Kaštan house of culture in the Prague district of Břevnov on April 7 1878 as part of the Austrian Social Democrats. Present-day leaders laid a wreath at the still-functioning Kaštan on Friday, while on Saturday an anniversary ball is being held at the National House in Prague’s Vinohrady district.
After months of preparations, the state prosecutor’s office has filed a lawsuit against former Central Bohemian governor and MP David Rath and ten other defendants, accusing them of corruption and abuse of office; if found guilty, Mr Rath faces up to 12 years in prison. Because of the considerable amount of evidence and documentation involved in the case, the court hearings will most likely only begin in the summer. The former governor remains in custody but could be allowed on bail by the Prague regional court.
Christie’s auction house in New York sold works by famous 20th century Czech photographers Josef Sudek and Jaroslav Rössler for a total of 143,750 dollars, or 2.9 million crowns. Photographs by two other Czech greats František Drtikol and Jaromír Funk were not auctioned off. The works by the four artists were part of a larger private collection. František Drtikol nonetheless remains the top-selling Czech photographer abroad, with his photograph A Snow Wave having been sold for 312 thousand dollars six years ago in New York.
A request by Pavel Vondrouš, who shot former president Václav Klaus with an air gun last September, for criminal prosecution against him to be dropped has been rejected. The Liberec state prosecutor, Ivan Bernátek, said he sees no reason to suspend the investigation or downgrade the case to an infraction. The 26-year old defendant says that he shot Mr Klaus in the town of Chrastava with the non-lethal weapon to show that politicians in this country do not listen to regular citizens.
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