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 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 Meanwhile, an order for local authorities to keep in place flood defences erected last week has been rescinded.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 renowned Czech poet, novelist and literary historian Zdeněk Rotrekl died on Sunday at the age of 92, a representative of his publishers said. Rotrekl, whose work was strongly influenced by his Roman Catholic faith, spent 13 years in prison during the Communist regime and was banned from publishing for four decades. The Brno writer was the recipient of several important honours, including the Order of T.G. Masaryk.
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.
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.
Czech Radio’s Vltava station will place recordings of the first volume of The Good Soldier Švejk on their website. Responding to enormous interest from their listeners in the audio adaptation of Jaroslav Hašek’s classic, the station decided to make the recording by the famous Czech actor Oldřich Kaiser available for a longer period of time than the normal week. The Švejk readings, which first aired in May, will be on the station’s website from 10 June to 30 July.
The Ministry of Agriculture is planning to submit an amendment that should prevent massive flood-related damages in the future. One of the things that Minister Petr Bendl plans to propose is that no buildings would be allowed to be built in flood zones. He also told the press on Monday that more efforts should be made to regularly clean river basins, in order to allow better drainage of the rivers. The ministry is still working on the full text of the draft amendment
The acting mayor of Prague, Tomáš Hudeček, on Monday called off a state of emergency for the Czech capital, more than a week after emergency measures were introduced. A flood alert is still in place for the city, although water levels and flow rate have gone down considerably over the weekend. Due to heavy rain on Sunday and expected rain in the first half of the week, the water level in the Vltava River may not go down as quickly as originally expected.
A former employee of the ABL security agency, formerly owned by Public Affairs leader Vít Bárta, was in possession of illegally acquired records of phone calls made by a manager at the company CEZ, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday, referring to a report by the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces. The records originated with a police officer who is currently facing abuse of power charges, the newspaper said. Representatives of the security firm, which is now called Mark2 Corporation, deny the charge. Mr. Bárta, who founded the company and ran it when the alleged transgressions took place, served as a government minister before his party Public Affairs became involved in a number of scandals and was forced into the opposition.
Flood-relate damages to the agriculture sector are estimated to be at least 1.8 billion crowns, according to the Czech Agrarian Chamber. The overall figure could be much higher since the estimate does not include losses to the fishing industry. In 2002, farmers around the Czech Republic suffered damages of more than 3.5 billion crowns. Some 55 thousand hectares of land were flooded in the past week, which most of all affecting vegetable growers. Many farmers were getting ready to harvest many of their crops, which are now effectively destroyed. This will most likely cause prices of local produce to rise this year.
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