A court in Ostrava on Friday sentenced two men to eight years in prison for selling bootleg methanol laced liquor. The court said the men sold 80 litres of alcohol containing 50 percent of methanol on the black market; one person died and four others suffered serious injuries as a result. Another 32 people face trial for producing and selling methanol-laced alcohol; the trial with the heads of the bootlegging network should start in the coming months. More than 40 people have died of methanol poisoning in the Czech Republic since last September when the crisis started.
The lower house of Parliament on Friday approved government legislation that would cut subsidies for renewable sources of energy. The bill ends all subsidies for solar plants put into operation after January 1, 2014, and also caps subsidies paid by electricity consumers for existing solar, hydro and biogas plants. The difference will be covered by the state budget. MPs on Friday included a provision in the bill that will require all recipients of subsidies to disclose their ownership. The bill, which has come under criticism by environmentalists, will now be discussed in the Senate.
If MPs next week vote to dissolve the lower house of Parliament, President Milos Zeman will call an early election for October 25 and 26. Mr. Zeman announced the possible date in an interview for Haló Noviny, a paper with ties to the Communist party, saying he saw no reason why the lower house should be left idle for another month. The motion to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies would need a constitutional majority of 120 votes to pass and according to present estimates 122 deputies are likely to support it. Some commentators have expressed surprise that the president announced such an important decision in a party publication.
Family and friends on Friday paid their last respects to filmmaker Jiří Krejčík who passed away last week at the age of 95. The funeral took place in Prague’s St Vojtěch church, the same where Jiří Krejčík was baptized 95 years ago. Mr Krejčík’s best known films include the 1960 WWII drama Higher Principle, the biographical film about the singer Ema Destinová entitled The Divine Ema, and others.
The Indian army has recued two Czech tourists stranded in the town of Kishtwar, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Times of India reported. The Czechs, who were planning a trekking expedition in the mountains, were unable to leave the town since last week when violence between Muslims and Hindus broke out and curfew was imposed in Kishtwar. They were forced to stay in their hotel, and approached the local authorities for help. The army has transported them to the regional capital Jammu.
President Zeman also told Haló Noviny that he did not rule out future involvement of the Communist Party in government. The president said that in his view the Communist Party could first support a minority Social Democrat cabinet in office as a “transitional phase” to direct participation in government. On the grounds of a resolution passed in 1995, the Social Democrats have consistently rejected cooperation with the Communist Party on a national level but the Zeman faction in the Social Democrats, which has been gaining strength, could move to scrap the ban.
The Czech Foreign Ministry on Friday issued a warning against all travel to Egypt. The ministry warned that due to unpredictable development in the country, Czech citizens should avoid any trips to Egypt including its popular Red Sea resorts Sharm el-Sheikh. Hurgada, Marsa Alam, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba. Czech tourists in these resorts should not leave hotel premises until departing from the country, the ministry said.
The majority of actors in Prague’s National Theatre who resigned in protest against the dismissal of the theatre’s director have withdrawn their resignations, the head of the theatre’s drama department said on Friday. Nearly half of the ensemble resigned after Culture Minister Jiri Balvin dismissed the National Theatre’s director, Jan Burian, earlier this month. But the decision caused outrage among the arts community and politicians, and the prime minister ordered Mr Balvín to reinstate the theatre’s director. Two of best known actors in the National Theatre, Miroslav Donutil and Richard Krajčo, have not withdrawn their resignations and will cooperate with the theatre as freelancers.
Anti-Romany rallies are to be held in five Czech regions on August 24, a police spokeswoman said. Far-right extremists said they wanted to protest against alleged high crime levels among the Romany community, and against police brutality. The police have not disclosed the exact locations but rallies are expected in České Budějovice, Jičín, Plzeň, and other cities. In Ostrava, local authorities have banned an anti-Romany rally; they said several Romany groups had already booked public space for the same time. A series of rallies targeting the Romany community has been held in places across the Czech Republic in recent months, prompting international criticism. Several organizations have asked the Czech authorities to protect the Romany community against violence and intimidation.
In related news, MPs on Friday rejected a proposal by the Civic Democrats to postpone the vote on dissolving the lower house. The former coalition Civic Democrats argued MPs should wait until several bills are approved or turned down by the Senate. The Social Democrat and TOP 09 parties, meanwhile, have welcomed the president’s announcement of the likely election dates, as they believe the election should take place as soon as possible.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Wide range of events in store for Czechs this weekend as 30-year anniversary of Velvet Revolution reaches climax
Škoda unveils 4th-generation Octavia ahead of model’s 60th anniversary
15 years later – was ending military service right move for Czech Republic?