Clean-up work has begun in the town of Pardubice near the mineral oil refinery Paramo on Monday. According to pyrotechnical experts there may be up to 180 unexploded bombs from Allied air attacks during World War II in the soil. In case the bombs are discovered local authorities are prepared to evacuate the area within two hours. As many as 10,000 people may have to be evacuated from their homes, and trains going through the town may have to be stopped and potentially re-routed.
Famous graphic artist, Oldřich Kulhánek, died at the age of 72 on Monday morning. He is the author of the images that appear on Czech bank notes as well as many Czech stamps. A Prague native, Mr Kulhánek was detained by the Czechoslovak secret police in 1971 on charges that he slandered communist leaders with his drawings from the late 1960s. Although he was set free after a few weeks, he remained under surveillance for a number of years and was prohibited from publishing his work until the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.
The Czech Constitutional Court is now a judge short with the 10-year term of Justice Jiří Mucha having come to an end on Monday. This leaves the court with 12 judges, the minimum number required for it to sit. A further six judges are set to leave the country’s highest court between now and the end of the year, and experts have warned that its case load could pile up which could lead to delays in rulings. President-elect Miloš Zeman has said he hopes to be able to find candidates that would be acceptable to the Senate within a couple of months of taking office in March.
President-elect Miloš Zeman has retired to his home in the village of Nové Veselí in the Vysočina region on Sunday. According to a friend, he is planning to recuperate from the stress of the presidential campaign until Thursday, when he will go back to Prague. Mr Zeman asked not to be disturbed and said he will not pick-up phone calls from friends. The police are still looking for the person who spray-painted a red star near Mr Zeman’s home in Nové Veselí on Saturday night in reference to the former communist regime.
Some supporters of the former presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg are joining an initiative under the motto: “Miloš Zeman, you are and will not be my president.” The initiative was formed spontaneously at the Lucerna music bar in Prague, where Mr Schwarzenberg’s supporters gathered on Saturday afternoon to await election results. The initiative refuses to recognize Mr Zeman as president because its members believe he won by spreading lies during his campaign. Film director Monika Le Fay is one of the people behind the initiative which has since been supported by singers Roman Holý and Jaroslav Hutka, actor Olřích Navrátil, documentary director Olga Sommerová and others.
During the second round of the presidential elections this weekend, a little over three thousand ballots were found to be invalid in the Czech capital. Apparently, some of them were made invalid on purpose. Some voters placed homemade ballots into designated envelopes, indicating their preference for the cartoon character Little Mole (Krtek), for example, or the fictional theatre character Jára Cimrman. One voter placed candy into the envelope instead of the ballot.
The Czech tennis captain Petr Pála has nominated the winning team from last year’s Fed Cup final to the first round of this year’s tournament. Petra Kvitová, Lucie Šafářová, Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká will face the Australian team in Ostrava on February 9 and 10. The Australians are the second most successful team in the Fed Cup history, having won the championship seven times. But their last victory was in 1974.
President-elect Miloš Zeman has called for an early general election to
replace the current unpopular government. In an interview for Czech TV just
hours after his election to head of state, Mr Zeman said the cabinet of PM
Petr Nečas was only supported by 8 percent of Czechs. One of the coalition
parties, LIDEM, did not win its mandate in a popular vote, according to the
president-elect, and therefore the entire government did not come out from
free elections. The call was rejected by leaders of the coalition Civic
Democrat and TOP 09 parties who said the government was responsible to
Parliament’s lower house, and not the president.
Miloš Zeman, a former Social Democrat prime minister, became the first Czech president elected in a popular vote after he beat Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in the election’s second round on Saturday.
In related news, Mr Zeman said he would approach political parties represented in the Czech Parliament for support for several issues including incentives and investments for the economy, new legislation on financial disclosures, and changes to the voting system in local elections. In an TV interview on Sunday, the president-elect said financial disclosure and the duty to prove the origin of property would be crucial for efforts to curb corruption; the voting system in local elections should enable people to choose candidates on different ballots, according to Mr Zeman.
The chief justice of the Czech Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský said he would accept the president-elect’s nomination for another 4 years in the post. Mr Rychetský’s ten-year term expires in August. Mr Zeman said earlier he would consider appointing Mr Rychetský, who served in Mr Zeman’s government as justice minister, for another term. The terms of three of the top court’s 15 judges expire on Monday, and another 10 will leave the court later this year.
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