Passenger car sales in the Czech Republic fell by 14 percent in the first half of this year, representatives of the Car Importers Association said at a press conference on Thursday. In June alone, passenger cars sales reportedly dropped by one fifth. Skoda Auto sales decreased by 18 percent, Hyundai saw a 5 percent drop, followed by Volkswagen with a 2 percent fall in sales. Customers bought mainly small and mini cars, which accounted for almost one quarter of overall sales.
Many ministers of the outgoing centre-right government have refused an invitation from President Miloš Zeman for dinner at Prague Castle on Monday, in what is perceived as an obvious snub to the head of state in the wake of recent developments. No ministers from the TOP 09 party will be present, according to the CTK news agency, and Karolina Peake the head of LIDEM, the smallest party in government has also refused the invitation. It is not clear how many Civic Democrat ministers may show up. The centre-right coalition has criticized the head of state for ignoring the fact that the centre right parties collected 101 signatures -a majority in the lower house – in support of their nominee for prime minister Miroslava Němcová. They accuse Mr. Zeman of forming his own “puppet” cabinet.
Tomáš Berdych was not the only Czech player knocked out at the Wimbledon Championships on Wednesday: while Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká got off to a good start in their quarter-final against Australian opponents Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua, winning the first set, it ultimately wasn’t enough. They ended up losing the match. The final score was 2:6, 6:2, 6:4.
The Czech Embassy in Cairo says that the situation in the country’s tourist resorts is stable and there is no immediate danger to Czechs holidaying in Egypt. However it has advised tourists against travelling to northern Egypt and has warned people to stay away from public gatherings and street protests. The embassy says it is following developments closely and is in contact with Czech travel agencies active in the region.
After a week of escalating racial tension in České Budějovice, there are fears that the coming weekend could bring more street clashes between ultra-right groups and the town’s Romany community. Social networks reflect growing racial tension and there are invitations to join anti-Roma demonstrations in the south Bohemian city over the weekend. Ten people were injured in last week’s street protests as the police strove to maintain order and keep the two groups apart. The city’s mayor Juraj Thoma has appealed to citizens not to join ultra-right demonstrators and keep off the streets.
Prime minister designate Jiří Rusnok has filled three more ministerial posts in the emerging caretaker cabinet. Outgoing defense minister Vlastimil Picek, who has received an offer to continue in office, has agreed to do so. Jiří Cienciala, the rector of the Ostrava School for Entrepreneurs, is to head the Industry and Trade Ministry while the former chief inspector of Czech Railways Zdeněk Žák will lead the Transport Ministry. Mr. Rusnok has not yet filled the post of finance minister and there has been speculation he may be considering former caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer for the post. The post of environment minister is likewise still vacant. The new cabinet is to be sworn in on Wednesday.
The Boston Bruins, in a reversal, may try and again sign Czech hockey player Jaromír Jágr, several news sites report. Jágr was slated to leave the team following the Bruins’ defeat in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals – a move originally confirmed by General Manager Peter Chiarelli. But after forward Nathan Horton said he wanted to test the market, Chiarelli reacted by suggesting the club might rethink its position. Jágr went scoreless throughout the playoffs but was crucial on key plays, not least in games that went down the wire.
Responding to developments in Egypt, the Czech Foreign Ministry has said it is closely monitoring the situation and is concerned by the deep polarization of the Egyptian society in the course of the transformation process. The ministry urges a speedy restoration of democratic processes in Egypt by free and fair elections. It strongly condemns all acts of violence, especially violence against women, and firmly hopes that the security forces will take effective measures to protect the population.
Thousands of people are streaming to the Velehrad pilgrimage site to attend celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia to spread the Christian faith and lay the foundations of literacy with the Glagolitic alphabet. A divine mass at the Velehrad basilica at midday Thursday was attended by high church dignataries, the papal legate, Cardinal Josip Bozanić of Zagreb, state dignitaries and foreign diplomats. The Days of People of Goodwill include a number of cultural events, a concert, exhibitions, lectures and conferences. Hundreds of officers are helping to direct traffic to the pilgrimage site.
The Czech Pirate Party has asked the Czech Interior Ministry to offer
political asylum to American whistleblower Edward Snowden who leaked
details of the U.S. Prism mass surveillance programme to the press. The
party sent the outgoing Interior Minister Jan Kubice an open letter asking
the ministry to publicly condemn the U.S. surveillance practices and
the public that the Czech intelligence services are not involved in
Snowden, a former CIA contractor, confessed that he had revealed details of the top-secret Prism programme of the US government, including the monitoring of Internet and phone communication, to the media. The U.S. State Department has accused him of espionage and theft of official documents. Snowden is presently in a transit area of the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow and has applied for political asylum in over 20 countries.
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery
Valentine’s Day 1945 - When the Americans bombed Prague
Film about tragic fate of great Czech actress highlights communist atrocities in the 1950s