The great American conductor Lorin Maazel helmed the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra at a sold-out Smetana Hall of Prague’s Obecni Dum on Friday night in what was his first appearance at the Prague Spring international music festival for 43 years. Maazel, who is 83, has been one of the world’s leading conductors for the last five decades. This year’s Prague Spring features more than 30 concerts and three opera performances. It runs until June 2.
Meanwhile, the abbot of Strahov Monastery in Prague, Michael Josef Pojezdný, has praised Mr. Zeman for refusing to appoint Mr. Putna, who is a practising Roman Catholic, professor. However, it is unclear why the abbot – who reportedly made the comments during a meeting with Mr. Zeman on another matter – has backed the president, as he has refused to speak to the media. This has led to speculation that it may be because of Mr. Putna’s liberal politics or the fact that he is openly homosexual. Academics have also been up in arms, with the rector of Prague’s Charles University, Václav Hampl, saying that Mr. Zeman would need to have very serious reasons for not naming Mr. Putna professor; otherwise the move would represent an unacceptable intervention.
A major EU-wide survey ranks the Czech Republic as a relatively tolerant country to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. The poll, conducted by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights among 93,000 people in the bloc’s member states plus Croatia, found that around 26 percent of gay people have faced attacks or violent threats due to their sexuality which is the same share as registered in the Czech Republic. Another 20 percent of those surveyed said they had been discriminated against at work or when looking for a job; in the Czech Republic, 10 percent of LGBT people said they faced such discrimination.
Heavy storms are expected to hit western Czech Republic on Friday evening, meteorologists have warned. The storms could be accompanied by strong winds and hail. The warning applies to the regions of Karlovy Vary, Plzeň, central and southern Bohemia and western parts of the Ústí region. Torrential rain could cause local flooding, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute said, and asked people in the likely affected areas to secure doors and windows on their houses.
Police on Friday charged four Austrian citizens, members of a motorcycle gang, of public disturbances and damaging private property. The four men were arrested on Thursday after an incident in which they damaged a car and threatened its passengers in eastern Bohemia. The gang was reportedly on its way to a bike riders’ gathering in Poland. If convicted, the men could spend two years in jail.
The trial against Tatra truck maker CEO Ronald Adams, charged with bribery, is due to begin in Brno on June 6, a spokeswoman for Brno city court said. Mr Adams allegedly offered a 20-million-crown bribe to then deputy defence minister Martin Barták in exchange for army contracts for the firm. Mr Barták, who reportedly testified against Mr Adams, has also been charged in the case.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Friday approved legislation that will strip jailed MPs of their salaries and other benefits. The bill, put forth by the coalition Civic Democrats, won the support of 119 MPs in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. The legislation comes at a time when two MPs – former Social Democrat David Rath and an ex-Civic Democrat Roman Pekárek are in prison, the former awaiting trial for corruption, the latter serving a five-year sentence for similar charges. The bill will now be debated in the Senate. Lawmakers are also discussing a bill that would strip convicted MPs of their seats in the lower house.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych beat world number one Novak Djokovič 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 at the Rome Masters on Friday, to reach the tournament’s semifinals. Berdych, seeded sixth, was one set down and was losing 2:5 in the second set but made a remarkable comeback, winning five games in a row. In the third set, Berdych converted his fourth match point, scoring only his second career win against the Serbian player. Berdych will play either Rafael Nadal or David Ferrer in the semifinal.
The 19th international book fair and literary festival Book World Prague is underway. The event brings together writers and publishers from around the world including US author Robert Fulghum and British writer Stephen Clarke. Slovakia is the festival’s guest of honour this year with a series of programmes dedicated to Slovak literature. The Book World Prague 2013 goes on until Sunday.
President Miloš Zeman has refused to appoint literary historian Martin C. Putna a university professor. Mr Putna, a teacher at Prague’s Charles University, is one of the president’s most vocal critics, and supported Mr Zeman’s rival for the presidency in January’s vote. The rector of Charles University has demanded an explanation from the president’s office; for his part, President Zeman said he would only reveal his motivation in court. Mr Zeman has come under criticism from some Czech politicians over his decision.
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