The Czech National Theatre has been guilty of financial irregularities for several years, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday, citing an audit completed under a former minister of culture. The institution’s new director, Jan Burian, told the newspaper that the theatre had broken the Labour Code with regard to the payment of taxes and health and social insurance. The National Theatre was recently in the news when Mr. Burian was sacked by the current minister of culture before being reinstated a few days later. A number of actors quit in protest, though most have since returned.
The leadership of the Social Democrats has decided to make party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka the head of its electoral campaign and its candidate for the post of prime minister. The Social Democrats have topped the opinion polls for some time and are expected to come first in the next general election. However, President Miloš Zeman – who previously lead the party – is believed to be close to its number two man Michal Hašek; he recently said he would appoint a “representative” of the winning party PM, leading to speculation he could overlook Mr. Sobotka in favour of Mr. Hašek.
The Czech Republic’s Vítězslav Veselý has taken gold in the javelin at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow. Veselý, who is trained by the Czech javelin legend Jan Železný, won with a throw of 87.17m. The 30-year-old’s previous biggest success was gold at the 2012 European Championships. Veselý’s victory follows the gold taken by Zuzana Hejnová in the women’s 400m hurdles earlier in the competition.
The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has reached the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Open. Berdych, ranked sixth in the world, put in a strong performance to defeat Wimbledon champion Andy Murray of the United Kingdom 6-3 6-4. The 27-year-old will now face the Spaniard Rafael Nadal for a place in the final.
Golf’s European Tour will take in Prague next year after the city’s Albatross course signed a new five-year contract with the organisation. The first event – under the title D+D Real Czech Masters – will take place in a year’s time, with total prize money set to reach one million euros. The Czech Republic was last involved in the European Tour two years ago, when Čeladná in South Moravia hosted the Czech Open. The Karlštejn club near Prague hosted the same event in 1997.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.