In related news, students at Charles University have begun planning protest events over the president’s refusal to approve Mr Putna as a professor. They also called on some 24 other professorial candidates to be appointed soon to show solidarity and refuse to accept the title from the president. Mr Zeman has drawn sharp criticism from the academic community; he is due to meet with the head of Charles University later this week.
Descendants of shoe magnate Jan Antonín Baťa are demanding that the Czech state return billions of crowns worth of property to them, Právo reported on Monday. An associate of the Baťa family told the newspaper that they were willing to take the matter to the international courts. The property was nationalised under post-war presidential decrees on the grounds that Baťa had allegedly collaborated with the Nazis. However, in 2007 a Prague court overturned Jan Antonín Baťa’s conviction on collaboration charges. The founder of the international shoe company left Czechoslovakia in 1939 and later settled in Brazil, where he founded a number of towns.
President Miloš Zeman clarified on Monday the reason he refused to name well-known literary historian Martin C. Putna a university professor. Mr Zeman suggested the crux of the problem for him was a placard Mr Putna carried at Prague’s gay pride parade, which read “Catholic queers salute Bátora”. The banner referred to a highly-controversial former ministry official who opposed the parade two years ago. The president stressed that he respected peoples’ sexual orientation but suggested there was a difference between that and carrying a banner like Mr Putna’s. Mr Putna is widely-recognised as a Catholic intellectual who has focussed on the topics of homosexuality and religion. He is also a vocal critic of the president’s, ridiculing him earlier this year in a video when he was still a candidate ahead of the election.
Top Czech football club Baník Ostrava was saved from bankruptcy on Monday following two city council votes. The future of the heavily indebted club hinged on the Ostrava city council buying its Bazaly stadium. A first vote went against the proposal, and would have meant expulsion from the top division. But in a dramatic turn of events, a second vote was held that went the club’s way. Baník Ostrava are the 2004 league champions and have been the home of many talented players, recently, for example, seeing the return of former national squad member Milan Baroš.
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.
The head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew I, is set to begin a four-day visit to the Czech Republic on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Czech Roman Catholic Church said on Saturday. The patriarch is coming to the country in connection with celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of the Orthodox missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius in Moravia. Patriarch Bartholomew blessed an Orthodox church in Šumperk in 1998 and returned to the Czech Republic the following year to attend Forum 2000 at the invitation of Václav Havel.
Speaking at an annual memorial ceremony on the site of the former Terezín concentration camp in central Bohemia on Sunday, President Zeman warned against succumbing to manipulation. He said if people allowed themselves to be manipulated they would become like sheep. The president pointed to the intellectuals who had been duped on visits to the Soviet Union and also mentioned the effect of Nazi propaganda. The Nazis forced around 155,000 Jews to go to Terezín (Theresienstadt); around two-thirds of them did not survive the war.
The Czech men’s tennis number one, Tomáš Berdych, was knocked out in the semi-finals of the Italian Open by Rafael Nadal on Saturday evening. The Spaniard made light work of the world number six, who had overcome Novak Djokovic in the fourth round, beating him 6-2 6-4 in Rome. Berdych, who is 27, has only beaten Nadal three times in 16 encounters and has never beaten him on clay.
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