President Miloš Zeman has met with the ambassador of Azerbaijan on Thursday in an attempt to improve relations, which were threatened by recent remarks made by the Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. President Zeman felt that Mr Schwarzenberg’s remarks that Azerbaijan is a “family dictatorship” could negatively affect business interests of Czech companies in the Central Asian country. He met with the Azeri ambassador to discuss steps to ease tensions and improve relations between the two countries.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Thursday that the government will take a number of steps to help business owners affected by the floods recover their livelihoods. The June 15 deadline for back payments of income taxes has been postponed and owners of businesses damaged by the floods will be freed of the obligation to make advance tax payments for 2013 starting June 30. The premier told the daily Hospodařské noviny that next week the cabinet wants to introduce special low-interest bank loans guaranteed by the government to help with repairs and recovery of small businesses.
A Czech man, Martin Psota, attempted to get from Taiwan to Japan on a makeshift raft before being picked up by the coast guards. Mr Psota had overstayed his tourist visa in Taiwan and had no money to buy ticket to leave the island. He told his rescuers he was inspired to attempt the journey by the movie Life of Pi, but that after an hour he began to be tired from rowing and his raft began to fall apart. Taiwanese authorities have placed Mr Psota in custody, pending payment of a fine.
The ‘Chrastava shooter’ Pavel Vondrouš was handed down a half-year suspended sentence at a court in Liberec on Thursday. The prosecution accused him of endangering a public figure after he shot at the former president Václav Klaus with an Airsoft pellet gun last year in the town of Chrastava. In the end the court sentenced him for disorderly conduct. In his closing statement before sentencing, Mr Vondrouš said that he does not feel guilty and that he carried out his act not just for himself but for other Czechs who are suffering and are being overlooked by politicians. Former president Klaus, who only suffered minor bruising in the attack, was not present at the court hearing.
The Boston Bruins, with players David Krejčí and Jaromír Jágr, are a win away from making the Stanley Cup finals after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 2:1 on Wednesday to take a commanding 3:0 series lead. The winning goal was scored by Patrice Bergeron in 2nd overtime on a play begun by Jágr against the boards. The 41-year-old Czech legend dug the puck out from Malkin, passing to Marchand who set up Bergeron for the winner. Goalie Tomáš Vokoun, who stopped 38 shots on the night, had little chance. In the playoffs, the Bruins’ Jágr, who has two Stanley Cup rings from more than two decades ago, has been effective at key moments; his teammate, David Krejčí, leads the postseason on points. So far he has scored nine goals and racked up 12 assists.
Most rivers that had swollen and flooded many parts of Bohemia in the past
week are slowly beginning to recede. This week’s floods claimed eight
lives and forced some 19,000 people to leave their homes. Some 31 thousand
people around the country lost access to drinking water in their places of
residence in the past four days, and many are still without power.
The Labe River reached its peak flow levels in the north Bohemian towns of Děčín and Ústí nad Labem on Wednesday night and began to slow down in the early hours of the morning. Areas surrounding the riverfront in both towns have been flooded since Wednesday morning, as water made it over floodwalls. In Ústí nad Labem, more than 3,000 people had to leave their homes, and in Děčín over 1,000 due to the inundation. The authorities expect the Labe to return to normal levels within the next week.
The Prague Biennale began on Thursday at the functionalist complex of the defunct freight railway station Žižkov in Prague. Among the artists representing the Czech Republic at the exhibit are Helena Hladilová, Jakub Nepraš and Luděk Rathouský. This sixth edition of the Prague Biennale will run until September 15. The Žižkov railway staition, which was built in 1936, has been recently given the status of a national heritage site and will be used in the future by cultural institutions and non-profit organizations.
The A and the B lines of the Prague metro are in full operation as of Thursday morning, although trains are still not stopping at seven stations that are in the immediate vicinity of the Vltava river. The C line will reopen on Friday, though some stations on that line will remain closed as well. All underground lines had been partly closed since Monday, as a precaution against floodingthat could have resulted from the rise in the water levels of the Vltava River earlier in the week.
The Czech team of Lucie Hradecká and František Čermák won the mixed doubles tournament at the Roland Garros French Open on Thursday. The pair faced a French-Canadian team of Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic. After losing the first set 6-1, recovered and finished off the match 6:4, 10:6. This is the first time a Czech team has won the mixed doubles at the French Open since 1991. Hradecká and Čermák appeared as a team at this year’s Australian Open, where they reached the final. Hradecká has another doubles match ahead of her in Paris. She will be joining her other partner Andrea Hlaváčková in the women’s doubles semi-finals on Friday against a Russian duo.
A large court complex in Prague 9 was evacuated after an unknown person called in a bomb threat at one of the court buildings on Wednesday morning. The complex houses the district courts and state attorneys’ offices for the Prague 4,6,8,9 and 10 districts. More than a thousand people had to leave the buildings and the surrounding area was cordoned off until the bomb squad finished examining the whole of the complex.