Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas and ex-president Václav Klaus attended the funeral of the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in London on Wednesday. Mr Klaus told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes that Mrs. Thatcher’s policies to a large extent inspired his government’s reforms in the 1990s including the deregulation, liberalization and privatization of the state-run economy. The former Czech president, who said the late Baroness Thatcher was “his heroine”, also appreciated her pragmatic approach to the European Union.
Civic Democrat deputies have proposed rock singer Vladimír Mišík and guitar player Radim Hladík for state honours. MP Walter Bartoš, who is behind the motion, suggested President Zeman should award the musicians the Czech Medal of Merit in recognition of their artistic achievements as well as their respect for freedom. Czech state honours are presented on October 28, the anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s independence; the recipients are proposed by lawmakers but the president makes the final choice.
Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blažek has backed Prague’s high attorney, Lenka Bradáčová, in her dispute with the head of the anti-corruption police, Martin Červíček. Ms Bradáčová accused Mr Červíček of fabricating a case against her in relation to her role in prosecuting an overpriced IT contract at the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. Minister Blažek told the news agency ČTK on Wednesday that Ms Bradáčová came with an exceptionally serious claim; the minister also described the police practices as similar to those used by the communist police in the 1950s. The head of the anti-corruption police Martin Červíček has denied any wrongdoing.
Czech Culture Minister Alena Hanáková on Wednesday dismissed the director of the National Gallery, Vladimír Rösel. In a statement, the minister said Mr Rösel had failed to understand the gallery’s role and to guarantee its development. Vladimír Rösel, who became the gallery’s director in 2011, said he did not agree with the decision but that he respected it. The new director will be chosen by a group of experts; in the meantime, the gallery will be run by the head of its Old Masters collection, Vít Vlnas.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych defeated Spain’s Marcel Granollers 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the ATP tournament in Monte Carlo on Wednesday and booked a place in the round of 16. The fourth-seeded Czech played his first match after a two-week break caused by a shoulder injury; he lost his service twice in the first set and made a series of errors but eventually won in one hour and 40 minutes. Berdych will next play either Italy’s Fabio Fognini or Alberto Ramos of Spain.
The police have arrested three men over last month’s attempted robbery of a cash transport van in Prague. The men, aged 32, 48 and 62, attempted to rob the vehicle in front of an IKEA store on the outskirts of the city on March 25. The robbers failed to get inside the van and take the cash and fired a sub-machine gun at the van as it drove off. One of the suspects is reportedly a repeat offender and faces up to 20 years in jail; the other two could land 12-year-sentences.
The 23rd annual Prague Writers’ Festival began in the Czech capital on Wednesday. The event kicked off with a reading by Czech author Vladimír Körner. The biggest name at this year’s festival is the Noble Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk; other guests include Mary Heimann, writer of the divisive Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed, Egypt’s Sonallah Ibrahim, Miguel Sousa Tavares of Portugal, and other authors. The Prague authorities have significantly reduced their financial support for the festival which will only last for three days instead of the usual week.
President Miloš Zeman says the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes should be headed by a historian. In an interview for Wednesday’s Právo, Mr. Zeman said that neither the former director, Daniel Hermann, nor the acting director, Pavlina Foglova, were qualified to lead the institution, which administers secret police files and other documents from the communist era. Last week, the Institute’s Council, which is dominated by members appointed by the Social Democrat-controlled Senate, dismissed Mr. Hermann, sparking a political row and raising questions over the institution’s future.
The Czech Republic’s self-sufficiency in pork last year dropped below 50 percent, the country’s Agrarian Chamber said on Wednesday. After a temporary rise, the numbers of pigs bred in the Czech Republic registered a further decrease at the beginning of this year, the chamber said. The producers blame the trend on the high prices of fodder, mainly soya and wheat, which are not reflected in prices of pigs offered by meat processing companies. Another reason behind the dropping numbers of pigs is the fact that consumers tend to prefer cheaper imported meat over more expensive meat produced in the Czech Republic.
The number of people who believe there are too many foreigners living in the Czech Republic has dropped by 9 percentage points over the past three years, suggests a new poll by the CVVM agency released on Wednesday. While in March 2009, 57 percent of Czechs surveyed said there were too many foreigners in the country, some 48 percent expressed the same opinion three years later. Around 43 percent of those surveyed in the latest poll said the number of foreigners in the country was “appropriate” while 11 percent of Czechs who took part in the poll believe foreigners should not be allowed to gain permanent residence in the Czech Republic at all.
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
Ron Perlman: Cinema is a much bigger art-form than superhero movies represent
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery
Valentine’s Day 1945 - When the Americans bombed Prague