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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Retired hockey defenceman Jaroslav Špaček is set to return to ice in Wednesday’s game five of the Czech playoffs finals, the news website isport.cz reported. The 39-year-old Olympic champion from the Nagano Games, who played 13 seasons in the NHL, retired last summer but will appear for his former club Plzeň against Zlín. A manager for the club said Plzeň missed several players and persuaded Špaček to come back. Plzeň and Zlín are tied 2:2 in the best-of-seven final series.
The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, has condemned Monday’s bomb attack in Boston. Mr. Nečas said he firmly believed that such an “unacceptable and disgusting terrorist act” would be investigated and those responsible held to account, adding that there was no place for such barbaric and cruel behaviour. Three people were killed and over 170 injured in Monday’s attack, which took place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The Czech police have boosted security at the US Embassy in Prague and said they would take special measures ahead of next month’s Prague Marathon.
Czech President Miloš Zeman sent a telegram of condolence to the president of the United States, Barack Obama, saying Czech people’s thoughts were with Americans in the aftermath of the attack. He said that he regarded the fight against terrorism as one of his foreign policy priorities and that the Czech Republic was an active and reliable partner of the US.