The number of inhabitants in the Czech Republic dropped by 3,300 people in the first three months of this year, the Czech Statistical Office revealed Wednesday. According to the bureau, the population number currently stands at 10,512,800; during the three-month period, deaths outnumbered births. Compared to the first quarter in 2012, however, both the birth and mortality rates went down, as did the number of abortions and weddings. By contrast, the number of Czechs getting divorced went up. More than 6,500 marriages ended in divorce, up by 400 cases from a year ago.
This year’s Pavel Koutecký Award for best Czech documentary has been won by Pavel Abrahám with Dva Nula (Two Nil), which focuses on fans at a soccer match featuring Sparta Prague. The presentation was made at a ceremony at Prague’s Archa theatre on Tuesday evening. In all over 100 documentaries were considered for the prize, with the winner selected from a shortlist of 10. Pavel Koutecký was a filmmaker who died in 2006 at the age of 50, halfway through the making of Citizen Havel, a portrait of the late president that subsequently became a great success.
The Czech Republic’s chances of reaching the 2014 football World Cup in Brazil received a boost on Tuesday, when one of their rivals for second place in Group B suffered a surprise defeat. Denmark’s 0:4 home defeat to the unfancied Armenia means the Czechs are now three points ahead of Denmark and would likely come second – and reach the playoffs – is they beat Malta, Armenia and Bulgaria. Italy top the group and are expected to win an automatic qualification place.
The Stanley Cup finals begin later on Wednesday, pitting the Boston Bruins (with Czech players David Krejčí and future hall-of-famer Jaromír Jágr) against the Chicago Blackhawks. The first two games take place in the Windy City. The Chicago Blackhawks have Michael Frolík and Michal Rozsíval on their roster, so regardless of which team wins, the feted cup, as is custom, will travel to the Czech Republic later this year. Members of the winning team are each ‘unofficially’ allowed to borrow the trophy for a day.
The Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute that it does not expect any more significant rises in river levels in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, an order for local authorities to keep in place flood defences erected last week has been rescinded. However, the highest level of flood alert remains in place at a few locations in Bohemia. Eleven deaths have been recorded in connection with flooding that began at the start of last week; material damages have been put at tens of billions of crowns.
The state-owned power utility CEZ is to waive three monthly bills for households hit by over half a metre of flooding, its director, Daniel Beneš, said on Tuesday. Homes where flood waters were less than half a metre will not be charged for one month’s power, he said. The prime minister, Petr Nečas, described the gesture as a sign of social responsibility and called on other power suppliers to make a similar gesture.
The minister of health, Leoš Heger, says his officials will carry out free tests of water in wells in areas that have been affected by flooding. Mr. Heger told Czech Radio that the Ministry of Health was earmarking millions of crowns for analyses of water quality. People have been told to pump out all remaining water and remove mud before having their wells tested. Almost 3,000 wells were inundated during the recent flooding.
President Miloš Zeman named 58 new professors at a ceremony at Prague’s Carolinum on Tuesday. However, seven academics due to receive the title did not attend. The issue of the president’s right to name professors hit the news last month when he said he would not confer the title on Martin C. Putna, a move which caused outrage in the academic community. Mr. Zeman said the literary historian had acted inappropriately by carrying a provocative banner in a gay pride parade. Mr. Putna is to receive his title from the minister of education later this month. The president says the right to appoint professors should be removed from the head of state, in line with practice in other countries.
The prime minister, Petr Nečas, has announced that he is getting divorced from his wife Radka. In a statement, he said that he and his wife had applied to a court to have their marriage dissolved. Mr. Nečas revealed in January that he and his wife, with whom he has four children, were no longer living together.
The TOP 09 minister of culture, Alena Hanáková, is to be replaced by Jiří Hlaváč, a former deacon of the Faculty of Music and Dance at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts, the new website iDnes.cz reported on Tuesday, referring to a government source. There has been speculation for some time about the future of the minister, who has been criticised by some in the arts world.