The Czech Republic’s Jewish Community says expressions of anti-Semitism are growing in the country, mainly on the internet. In an annual report, the community attributed the increase to rising tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the pro-Israeli stance of the Czech government and the fact that Jan Fischer, who is Jewish, stood in presidential elections. However, the report said that anti-Semitism was not common in the Czech Republic and that the number of physical incidents had not increased on recent years. An official said a controversial government bill to return property to churches had also contributed to antipathy towards Jews.
Opponents of church restitution say they will write to Pope Francis to ask him to prevent the return of previously nationalised property to the Czech Roman Catholic Church. The group behind the move, which includes writer Lenka Procházková and documentary maker Václav Dvořák, say they want to get more signatories, effectively turning it into a petition, before sending the letter to Rome. Stop Church Restitution say the return of the property has split Czech society and intensified the despair of the country’s poorest. Around CZK 75 billion in property or financial compensation is being returned to a number of churches.
The trial of influential Prague businessman Roman Janoušek on a charge of attempted murder will begin in July, Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday. Judge Tomáš Kubovec told the newspaper he would allow the media to be present in court for what is likely to be one of the most closely watched cases of the year in the Czech Republic. Mr. Janoušek was arrested last year after knocking down another driver and speeding away in a state of apparent inebriation. The businessman, who is believed to have been close to former Prague mayor Pavel Bém and other politicians, could face up to 18 years in jail if found guilty.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, is due to make a two-day visit to Poland at the end of next week, continuing a series of visits to neighbouring states. Mr. Zeman will have a meeting with his Polish counterpart, Bronislaw Komorowski, on a trip that comes hot on the heels of a visit to Warsaw by the Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas. The Czech head of state, who was elected in January, will take part in a meeting of 18 European presidents in Bratislava next month, while he is also expected to travel to Germany and to visit Czech troops in Afghanistan later this year.
Speaking in Warsaw on Monday, Prime Minister Nečas said the Czech Republic would take part in a tender to supply subsonic training fighter jets to the Polish military, including planes owned by the Czech Army. The Czech leader said Prague was also willing to provide customised training on the Czech-made L-159 jets. Mr. Nečas was heading a sizable Czech delegation that also included the ministers of defence, transport, agriculture and regional development. To date, representatives of manufacturer Aero Vodochody and the Czech state have been unsuccessful in efforts to sell the trainers to a number of countries.
Union leaders and representatives of the Czech Republic’s spas have demanded an immediate halt to changes in the system of spa treatment. They say the very existence of the country’s spas has been threatened by a shortening of the average length of stays and a marked reduction in payment for treatment by health insurers. Doctors have reportedly become afraid to prescribe spa care even in cases where they are still able to do so. The unions and spa owners have called for a meeting with the minister of health to address the problem.
Director and screenwriter Zdeněk Troška is planning to begin shooting a follow-up to his popular film Babovřesky later this month. Despite being slammed by many critics, the movie has been seen by over 600,000 people in the Czech Republic and around 150,000 in Slovakia with ticket sales reaching CZK 82 million. Mr. Troška, who is known for his broad and earthy comedies, said satisfied viewers represented his “greatest Oscar”. Babovřesky 2 will be his 22nd picture.
The Czech Republic have reached the knockout stage of the Ice Hockey World Championship in Sweden and Finland. The Czechs needed any kind of win over Norway to reach the playoffs and in the end made light work of their opponents on Tuesday, scoring three goals in the first 12 minutes and eventually running out 7:0 winners. The star of the show was forward Tomáš Plekanec, who joined the Czech squad only on Sunday from the NHL. He and his teammates now face group winners Switzerland for a place in the semi-finals.
Czech ice hockey players David Krejčí and Jaromír Jágr contributed to a remarkable turnaround for their club Boston Bruins on Monday; their assists that led to a goal that tied a NHL key game with less than one minute remaining. Boston, who had been losing 1:4, went on to beat Toronto in overtime and in so doing take their playoff first round 4:3 on games.
The country’s president, Miloš Zeman, was questioned by the Czech anti-corruption police in February over the allegedly fraudulent privatisation of Czech mining company Mostecká uhelná, Czech TV reported a day before a Swiss court began dealing with the case. Six former managers at the company are accused of having illegally transferred 150 million dollars from the firm and of having bought a majority stake in the coal giant for the money. The police suspect them of having conducted the deal at a considerably lower price. The privatisation of Mostecká uhelná took place under the government headed by then-prime minister Miloš Zeman, who told the police that the price was the decisive factor; he dismissed the idea that the state lost any money in the deal.