The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has lifted the flood warning it issued in the regions of central and south Bohemia, Ústí in north Bohemia) and Plzeň (west Bohemia) on Monday. Three towns still face potential danger from floods: Děčín and Ústí nad Labem, on the Labe River, as well as the UNESCO-listed Český Krumlov in south Bohemia, on the Vltava River, ČTK reported. However, water levels have fallen markedly and heavy precipitation is not expected in the country over the next few days. Extensive floods hit Prague and most regions in Bohemia, the western part of the Czech Republic, last week. The floods claimed lives and saw thousands of people evacuated from their homes.
Culture Minister Alena Hanáková (TOP 09-STAN) confirmed on Wednesday that she will step down at the end of June. The embattled minister had faced increasing criticism both from the opposition and expert circles; speculation that she would step down had intensified for some time. The minister told journalists she no longer felt she had the support of her party; she took the decision after meeting earlier with TOP 09 head Karel Schwarzenberg. Jiří Hlaváč, a former dean at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU) is being mentioned as a possible successor.
The Czech Republic’s chances of reaching the 2014 football World Cup in Brazil received a boost on Tuesday, when one of their rivals for second place in Group B suffered a surprise defeat. Denmark’s 0:4 home defeat to the unfancied Armenia means the Czechs are now three points ahead of Denmark and would likely come second – and reach the playoffs – is they beat Malta, Armenia and Bulgaria. Italy top the group and are expected to win an automatic qualification place.
In related news, local employment bureaux have issued approximately 1,280 relief payments to families in areas struck by floods; hundreds of unemployed people also volunteered to help in clean up operations. The news was revealed on Wednesday by the spokesman for the central employment office Jiří Reichl. People whose property was lost or badly damaged in the recent floods can apply for immediate help of up to 51,150 crowns. The spokesman noted that a number of towns and villages had signed agreements with employment bureaux covering publically-beneficial work.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, the leader of the TOP 09 party, has expressed support for fellow party member Tomáš Hudeček, suggesting he would be a suitable candidate for the post of Prague mayor. He made the comment in an interview for financial daily Hospodářské noviny. Other sources have reported he also has broader backing among the party. Until recently, two others Jiří Vávra and Václav Novotný were considered favourites for the job. Mr Hudeček has been acting mayor in the capital since the collapse of the coalition between TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats. Last month Bohuslav Svoboda, who was mayor for 2.5 years, was dismissed alongside other Civic Democrat councillors. A new mayor and new council are expected to be elected next week; TOP 09’s Prague branch is continuing negotiations with the opposition Social Democrats.
This year’s Pavel Koutecký Award for best Czech documentary has been won by Pavel Abrahám with Dva Nula (Two Nil), which focuses on fans at a soccer match featuring Sparta Prague. The presentation was made at a ceremony at Prague’s Archa theatre on Tuesday evening. In all over 100 documentaries were considered for the prize, with the winner selected from a shortlist of 10. Pavel Koutecký was a filmmaker who died in 2006 at the age of 50, halfway through the making of Citizen Havel, a portrait of the late president that subsequently became a great success.
Regions in the Czech Republic recently hit by floods have begun tabulating the damage costs. So far, damage to infrastructure and property across 25 municipalities in Plzeň has been estimated at 47.9 million crowns. The figure, however, is preliminary and appears likely to go up. Municipalities have also begun filing for financial relief so far counting 3.7 million. Beroun, not far from the capital, has been tabulating the damage to roads and bike paths, so far estimated at 30 million crowns. The overall figure for total damages there, however, is expected to increase considerably: between 200 and 300 million. Fifty million crowns, meanwhile, is being drawn by the region of Ústí in north Bohemia to be used for clean-up operations and repairs. The figure is not final: the regional governor pointed out it was around a ‘seventh’ of total funds which will be required.
President Miloš Zeman named 58 new professors at a ceremony at Prague’s Carolinum on Tuesday. However, seven academics due to receive the title did not attend. The issue of the president’s right to name professors hit the news last month when he said he would not confer the title on Martin C. Putna, a move which caused outrage in the academic community. Mr. Zeman said the literary historian had acted inappropriately by carrying a provocative banner in a gay pride parade. Mr. Putna is to receive his title from the minister of education later this month. The president says the right to appoint professors should be removed from the head of state, in line with practice in other countries.
The renowned Czech poet, novelist and literary historian Zdeněk Rotrekl died on Sunday at the age of 92, a representative of his publishers said. Rotrekl, whose work was strongly influenced by his Roman Catholic faith, spent 13 years in prison during the Communist regime and was banned from publishing for four decades. The Brno writer was the recipient of several important honours, including the Order of T.G. Masaryk.
The Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute that it does not expect any more significant rises in river levels in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, an order for local authorities to keep in place flood defences erected last week has been rescinded. However, the highest level of flood alert remains in place at a few locations in Bohemia. Eleven deaths have been recorded in connection with flooding that began at the start of last week; material damages have been put at tens of billions of crowns.
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