Czech President Miloš Zeman will soon appear on around 300 billboards around the country in an election campaign ad for his Citizens’ Rights Party-Zemanites, the news site iDnes.cz reported. The advertisements show a postcard bearing an official postage stamp with the president’s image and the words I’m going to vote for the Zemanites – what about you? Mr. Zeman has said in the past that as head of state he is duty-bound to be above party politics. Some polls indicate that the Zemanites, who currently have no seats in the Chamber of Deputies, could reach the five-percent threshold needed to enter the lower house.
A newly formed party representing the Czech Republic’s Roma minority is planning to stand in general elections at the end of next month. The Romany Democratic Party is planning to field candidates in four of the country’s regions, iDnes.cz reported, adding that its policies were strongly left-wing. The chairman of the grouping, Miroslav Tancoš, said members of the Roma community were looking for a chance to work rather than support or sympathy. Dozens of the party’s members are from the majority population, he said.
Czech bookmakers are backing the Social Democrats to come first in next month’s elections, with the companies Sazka, Fortuna and Maxi-Tip all currently offering the lowest odds on such an outcome, which would be in line with opinion polls. The bookies’ rates also indicate that they expect either right wingers TOP 09 or the Communists to come second and that both the ANO 2011 party headed by business tycoon Andrej Babiš and the Zemanites will reach the five-percent threshold.
Czech holiday makers have begun returning to Egypt, almost three weeks after travel companies had to quickly bring tourists home due to violence in the country. Two planes carrying tour groups left Prague for Egypt on Wednesday night. Operators insist that resorts in the country are now completely safe, though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still advising Czechs not to travel to Egypt.
A passerby found a box full of human skulls in a container on Prague’s Londýnská St. on Thursday. Detectives said the 15 skulls were numbered, indicating that they belonged to a collection. On Wednesday, a homeless man came across part of a skull in a rubbish bin on Jindřišská St. in the city centre. It too had a number and police are currently investigating whether there is a connection between the two finds, a spokesperson said.
Officers from the Czech police’s internal affairs agency have charged a policeman with stabbing his Ukrainian-born wife to death. Miloš Babyka, who is 35, was arrested on Wednesday evening, a week after going on the run. The website tn.cz reported that he had been arrested in Plzeň, the city where the attack took place. Police had issued a warning saying that Mr. Babyka, who was said to have been in the division that dealt with foreigners, was armed and dangerous; they said had been monitoring the officer prior to the killing, but refused to say why.
The Czech Embassy in Washington is on Thursday launching its annual Mutual Inspirations Festival, which this year will remember the life and work of the late Czech playwright, dissident and president Václav Havel. The festival, which runs until the end of October, will include film screenings, concerts, lectures, exhibitions and theatre performances, all of which will have free admission. Previous editions have been dedicated to T.G. Masaryk, Anton Dvorák and Miloš Forman.
The Czech Republic face a “final” in their World Cup qualifier against Armenia at Prague’s Eden Arena on Friday night, the team’s coach Michal Bílek said on Thursday. He said his team – who are currently third in their group, one point behind Bulgaria – need to win three of their four remaining games if they are to reach Brazil next year. Goalkeeper Petr Čech said that while the Czechs had beaten the Armenians 3:0 in Yerevan, they were a tough opponent who performed better on the road. On Tuesday the Czech Republic will play Italy away.
The Czech tennis player Andrea Hlaváčková has reached the final of the mixed doubles at the US Open alongside partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus. The pair beat the Serbian-French duo Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 12-10 on Wednesday to set up a title decider with the US-Mexican pairing of Abigail Spears and Santiago Gonzalez. Hlaváčková has also reached the semi-finals of the women’s doubles with compatriot Lucie Hradecká.
The Czech government has begun discussing Finance Minister Jan Fischer’s state budget proposal for next year, and the debate will continue until the end of September before a final version is given approval, the country’s interim prime minister, Jiří Rusnok, said on Wednesday. Under the proposal next year’s deficit should be 110 billion crowns – five billion higher than the proposal planned by the previous centre-right government led by Petr Nečas. The finance minister said that individual ministries had requests for increases adding up to 35 billion crowns. He stressed it would not to be possible to fulfil all requests although the government would debate the matter. On September 20, members of the so-called tripartite – union, business and government leaders – will also debate the budget prior to its approval by the cabinet.