Ecological activists from Friends of the Earth have awarded the country’s environment minister, Tomáš Chalupa, this year’s Ropák (Oil Guzzler) anti-award for most damaging environmental policies. The organisation said the minister had been chosen for the distinction for a controversial bill on the protection of Šumava National Park, for supporting the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant, and allegedly failing to act in the protection of the environment. The minister responded by saying that receiving the award meant he was doing something right and not succumbing to what he called “green hysteria”. The Ropák anti-award takes its name from a fictional creature (invented by Czech filmmaker Jan Svěrák) which survives on industrial waste. This year was the 21st time it was awarded.
In related news, former controversial presidential aide Ladislav Jakl was awarded the Zelená perla (Green Pearl, recognising most outlandish statement) for an opinion piece in which he slammed cycling as an alternative means of transport. In the piece last year he mocked biking as a clean and healthy means of travel, suggesting that cycling should be “banned”.
A new study obtained prior to release by the Czech news agency, suggests
that in terms of structure psychiatric institutional care in the Czech
Republic most resembles systems in the former Soviet Union and the
setting it apart from current practices in western Europe, where the trend
has been towards community care and other support systems. The study was
conducted by specialists from the Prague Psychiatric Centre: care across
European countries was examined.
In Italy, for example, many mental hospitals were closed or reduced in size. In the Czech Republic similar steps could only be taken following the introduction of alternative systems to prevent the mentally ill from ending up on the street or in prison, specialists suggested. Currently, Czech psychiatry receives 3.5 percent of the annual healthcare budget; that is to be boosted to five percent after reforms are introduced. The European average is eight.
The European Union will take appropriate steps if the pre-election struggle in Bulgaria threatens the position of the Czech state-owned company ČEZ in the country, the head of the head the European Council Herman Van Rompuy pledged on Thursday during a meeting with Czech President Miloš Zeman. Hynek Kmoníček, the head of the presidential office’s foreign affairs dept. revealed the news a day after the two men met at Prague Castle. "We would like the EU to fulfil its role of the top supervisor on EU standards," Mr Kmoníček told the Czech news agency. ČEZ´s problems in Bulgaria, the CTK noted, began after Bulgarians´ mass protests against high energy bills. Demonstrators demanded the nationalisation of the distribution companies in the country that are owned besides ČEZ by another Czech firm, Energo-Pro and the Austrian EVN. The protests resulted in fall of Boiko Borisov´s right-wing government.
The driver of a French bus which crashed on a motorway west of Prague on April 8 has died bringing the death toll in the accident to two. A 15-year-old schoolgirl died in the crash and 23 other school children were injured. The bus was headed for Prague when it careened off the motorway near Rokycany, some 80 km west of the Czech capital, shortly after 5am. The police were investigating the accident as a possible case of negligence resulting in death. The case is now likely to be closed.
Prague City councillors on Friday agreed on an out-of-court settlement with insurance companies over the renovation of the industrial palace at Prague’s exhibition grounds. One wing of the palace was destroyed by fire several years ago. Under the agreement, the city will receive 280 million crowns compared to the 1.2 billion crowns or so the city was asking for before. The settlement comes after a court ruled that Prague had no right to compensation in the deal, as the site during the time of the fire, was leased to a private company.
Workers renovating a house in Dolní Vilémovice (where Jan Kubiš – a British-trained paratrooper during World War II was born) recovered several unique items including letters, part of a military uniform, and photographs, Prague’s Institute of Military History revealed. Jan Kubiš and fellow soldier Jozef Gabčík pulled off a daring attack against acting Reichsprotector and ‘Hangman of Bohemia’ Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. Heydrich died several days later of his wounds. Kubiš, Gabčík and another five paratroopers were later surrounded at the Church of St. Cyril and St. Methodious on Resslova Street and paid with their lives for the assassination. Kubiš was wounded and died in hospital; the others committed suicide to avoid capture. The items in Mr Kubiš’s home were found under a stair that had rotted through.
Two bodies were found in the Vltava River on Friday, one near Palacký Bridge and the other near an electric power plant at Štvanice. The criminal police have begun investigations into both deaths. The body found by the bridge is that of a 40 to 50 year-old man whose identity remains unknown. The police have released no details about the second person, whose body proved difficult to retrieve.
Two-time ice hockey world championship gold medal winner Tomáš Vokoun, a goalie who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins, has told the news website idnes he will no longer play for the national squad. Vokoun led the Czech team to an unexpected victory against Russia in the final in Germany in 2010. Before that, he won his first gold in Austria in 2005. Vokoun told idnes that the Czech Republic had plenty of talented up-and-coming goalies and that it would be unfair of him to take a place on the roster. Vokoun did not play in the championship last year due to injury and missed the year before that when he sought a new contract in the NHL.