A draft of the state budget for 2014 recons with a deficit of 110 billion crowns, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Monday. The budget cuts funding for the transport and education portfolios while increases expenditures for the ministries of agriculture and industry. The deficit is 5 billion higher than that planned by the previous centre-right government of Petr Nečas; however, the expected deficit should remain under the target of 3 percent of GDP. The government is to send the draft budget to the lower house by the end of September; however, MPs will only be able to debate it two months later, after the early general election.
The new school year began in the Czech Republic on Monday for 1.2 million pupils of elementary and secondary schools as well as conservatories. Some 112,000 first-graders started school this year, which is 7,000 more than last September. Secondary schools, meanwhile, have 19,000 fewer students than last year. One of the changes introduced to school curricula is that pupils will have to take a second foreign language starting in the 8th grade of elementary schools.
Prague’s popular Jazz Dock club reopens two months after it was damaged by flooding. On Sunday, the club features a concert by New York-based Czech singer Marta Töpferová and the contrabass player Tomáš Liška who will play music from their latest album, Milokraj, the organizers said. The club was severely damaged in early June when the swollen Vltava flooded the premises where water levels reached 130 cm, destroying the floors, electrical wiring, acoustic walls, and other parts of the club. The costs of the reconstruction amounted to 4.5 million crowns
Charges against 31 people involved in last year’s methanol scandal will be raised in the autumn, a prosecutor in Zlín told the Czech news agency ČTK on Sunday. The accused face charges of manufacturing and distributing methanol-laced bootleg liquor which killed over 40 people, mainly in the north-east of the country; seven of the accused face charges of intentionally endangering public safety, a crime which carries up to 20 years in prison. Three people are awaiting the trial in custody.
The police have moved against squatters who on Saturday occupied a derelict building in Pohořelec, near Prague Castle. A unit of the riot police with dogs removed the occupants while 27 people have been detained, the news agency ČTK reported. Several dozen people gathered outside the building and protested against the police action. Squatters occupied several unmaintained buildings in the capital on Saturday to highlight the issues of dilapidating historical heritage and the unavailability of low-cost housing. They said they would vacate all of them before the end of the day but remained in one that is located in a popular tourist area in the vicinity of Prague Castle. A spokesman for the squatters said they wanted to reach agreement with the owner of the structure; however, the proprietors asked the police for assistance.
In total, 137 people died in road accidents in July and August, which was seven victims fewer than last year and the lowest number of road deaths since 1990. In August, 63 people were killed on Czech roads, which was 11 people fewer than in the same month last year. The police have asked drivers to exercise extra caution over the last weekend of the summer holidays when traffic is expected to be dense as holidaymakers are returning home.
A record attendance of 16,000 spectators saw an open-air performance of Bedřich Smetana’s opera The Bartered Bride in Prague on Sunday. The opera was staged in an amphitheatre located in a valley on the outskirts of the capital; the event’s tradition goes back to 1913, and was revived eight years ago.
President Zeman on Sunday said he was planning to nominate Radovan Suchánek for the post of a Constitutional Court judge. Mr Suchánek is a professor of constitutional law at Prague’s Charles University, and works as a legal advisor to the Social Democrat party. Mr Zeman said he would nominate the candidate provided the court’s chairman, Pavel Rychteský, raises no objections. The nomination must be approved by the Senate which last month rejected another candidate, Jan Sváček. The Czech Constitutional Court is currently functioning with 14 instead of 15 judges stipulated by the Constitution. The mandates of another two judges will expire later this year.
Czech cinematographer František Uldrich died in Prague on Saturday, at the age of 77, his family has said. Mr Uldrich shot nearly 50 films in his career that began in the 1960s; he often collaborated with the acclaimed director František Vláčil with whom he made nine movies including Valley of the Bees, Adelheid, and Smoke on the Potato Fields. František Uldrich also shot several popular Czech fairytales and comedies.
The French film Les Apaches by Thierry de Peretti was awarded the main prize at the 10th annual international festival of first features and student films Fresh Film Fest, held in Prague. The jury said the film, which depicts the lives of five teenagers on Corsica, managed to reveal what remains hidden under the surface. 145 films were shown during the festival which started on Wednesday.
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