An exhibition of the Czech crown jewels at Prague Castle came to an end on Sunday; they are set to be returned to their vault in St. Vitus’ Cathedral on Monday. Tens of thousands of people have queued to see the treasures since they went on display on May 10 in connection with the inauguration of a new Czech president earlier this year. The collection consists of the gold, jewel-encrusted St. Wenceslas crown, the St. Wenceslas sword, the royal orb and sceptre, the coronation cloak, the coronation cross and other items.
President Miloš Zeman says he would like to meet the rector of Charles
University, Václav Hampl, to discuss his objections to appointing
Martin C. Putna, who teaches there, professor. Mr. Zeman said on Friday
that he would not confer the title on Mr. Putna and that if he wanted to
know why Mr. Putna could take him to court. Czech Television reported that
the president’s objections to making the academic – who was opposed to
his candidacy for head of state – a professor stem from the latter’s
participation in a
gay pride march. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Petr Nečas has called on Mr.
to explain his opposition to Mr. Putna.
Some people have called for the removal of the (usually purely formal) power to name professors, which dates back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from the head of state.
The Czech top flight soccer club Baník Ostrava will go bankrupt if the council in the north Moravian city does not vote to purchase Baník’s Bazaly ground at an extraordinary meeting on Monday. The club, whose history stretches back 90 years, would be expelled from the first division. Baník’s stadium is valued at around CZK 115. Some councillors have said they will not support its purchase and the coalition that governs in the city is said to be divided on the matter.
The number of home births in the Czech Republic has increased markedly in the last two decades, the Czech News Agency reported, quoting a head doctor at a leading Prague hospital. While in 1990 only 16 babies were born at home with the assistance of a midwife, that figure had risen to 150 in 2009. The highest number occur in Prague, while the fewest take place in the Zlín region in South Moravia. Czech health insurance companies refuse to cover home births.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has criticised the composition of the freshly appointed academic council of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. The leader of the right-wing Civic Democrats says it includes former long-term members of the Communist Party and opponents of the very creation of the institution, which oversees secret police files and other documents from the Communist era. The previous academic council stood down in protest at the dismissal of the state agency’s director by its now left-controlled board. Critics of the former management of the Institute say it should explore the broader history of the Communist period and not just focus on the security services.
Saturday is the 90th anniversary of the first regular broadcast by Czechoslovak, later Czech, Radio. An open day with free guided tours was held at the station’s back-to-back buildings on Vinohradská and Římská streets in central Prague from 9:00 to 17:00 as part of a series of events held to mark the moment at 20:15 on May 18, 1923 when the station launched regular broadcasts from a tent in the city’s Kbely district. Czech Radio’s flagship station Radiožurnál is set to interview 90 special guests in a special broadcast live from Wenceslas Square that begins at 20:15 on Saturday and runs for 48 hours.
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.
Museums and public galleries around the Czech Republic offered discounted admissions on Saturday as part of International Museum Day. Many also put on workshops for children and guided tours, while some opened spaces normally closed to the public. A number of institutions, such as the City of Prague Museum and the capital’s National Museum, offered completely free admission. Museum Night events, when museums keep their doors open until the small hours, are being held in Brno; in the coming weeks other cities and towns are set to take part in the project, which culminates with a Prague Museum Night on June 8.
Politicians from across the political spectrum have criticised President Miloš Zeman’s refusal to name academic Martin C. Putna professor. Mr. Zeman has refused to explain his opposition to conferring the title on Mr. Putna, who opposed his candidacy for president. The leader of the president’s own former party the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, said the liberal Miloš Zeman of 1989 would not have understood the position of the Miloš Zeman of 2013. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg of TOP 09, who ran against Mr. Zeman for head of state, said his actions were the continuation of the policies of the Nazi protectorate and Communist leader Klement Gottwald.
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