During his visit to the cigarette producer Philip Morris’ Czech plant in Kutná Hora on Wednesday, President Zeman has criticized the EU’s anti-smoking efforts. The president said he considered the final version of the EU’s latest watered-down anti-tobacco legislation “relatively good” but added that any attempts to regulate smoking only increased illegal trade with cigarettes. Mr Zeman suggested people don’t start smoking before the age of 27 which is when he himself became a regular smoker; after that age, according to the Czech president, the human body is mature enough and immune to tobacco’s adverse health effects.
Some 83 percent of Czechs believe political parties are corrupt, a survey by the CVVM agency has found. A similar number of people also think that parties are only interested in people’s opinions during elections, while 81 percent of participants said parties only cared about the interests of its members. However, 60 percent of respondents suggested political parties were useful as they defend the interests of various social groups and classes.
The Social Democrats, the Citizens’ Rights Party and the ANO grouping have spent the most on advertising ahead of next week’s general election, according to a survey by the Admosphere agency. The Social Democrats spent 36.2 million crowns, followed by the Zemanites, with 35.5 million, and ANO which spent around 31 million. The agency estimates the advertising expenses of all political parties have exceeded 137 million crowns.
The state of the environment in the Czech Republic improved in 2012, mainly due to an economic slowdown, according to a new government report released on Wednesday. The report notes a decrease in greenhouse gasses emissions which last year reached the lowest levels since 1990. Production of hazardous waste decreased by 10 percent last year, as did water consumption. The report also registers an increase in the numbers of deciduous trees which experts say improves the overall quality of forests. Among persisting environmental problems are high levels of air pollution in some areas, increasing noise levels, massive use of pesticides and mineral fertilizers, and others.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved a plan to send a team of doctors to Jordan to provide health care to refugees from Syria, as part of the government’s Medevac programme. Some Syrian patients will also receive treatment in the Czech Republic. Details of the mission are to be finalized during the Czech foreign minister’s visit to Jordan next week. Czech doctors might arrive to Jordan by the end of the month, and work in a hospital in the capital Amman. Since the start of the civil war in Syria, the Czech Republic has provided over 43 million crowns in aid while 12 Syrian patients have received treatment in Czech hospitals.
Historian Jaroslav Miller has been elected the new rector of Palacký University in Olomouc. Mr Miller, who has served as the chair of the history department at the university’s philosophical faculty, received 15 votes from members of the academic senate in the first round. The only other candidate, incumbent Miroslav Mašlán, got nine votes. The new rector is yet to be officially appointed by President Miloš Zeman.
The controversial documentary depicting the Czech capital as a city of fraudsters and pickpockets aired on the National Geographic Channel last November was not filmed by the company’s own reporters but was acquired from Zig Zag Productions, the internet news site novinky.cz reports. The news site claims it has an exclusive interview with the documentary’s director Conor Woodman who allegedly spent ten days in Prague shooting at various locations and using hired actors to play out scenarios of tourists getting ripped off by taxi drivers, prostitutes and drug dealers. Prague is considering suing National Geographic over the report claiming in is manipulative and damages the city’s reputation.
The Ghetto Museum in Terezín on Wednesday launched a new exhibition dedicated to the commanders and guards of the former Nazi concentration camp. Entitled Perpetrators of Crimes, the exhibit also follows the Nazi guards’ lives after the war. Around 155,000 Jews from various European countries were deported to Terezín between 1941 and 1945 on their way to Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland.
The eighth annual festival of Austrian, German and Swiss cinema Das Filmfest begins in Prague on Wednesday. The event, hosted by the Altas and Lucerna cinemas, screens German-language feature films, documentaries and shorts, including the award-wining Swiss documentary More than Honey. The festival runs in Prague until Sunday before it moves to Brno the following week.
Czech playwright, actor, singer and composer Jiří Suchý is among those set to receive state decorations on the occasion of Czechoslovakia Independence Day on October 28, the news agency ČTK reported on Wednesday. Mr Suchý, who is 82, is to receive his second state decoration, as he was awarded the Czech Republic’s Medal of Merit in 1995. Jiří Suchý, a native of Plzeň, founded the legendary Semafor theatre in Prague in 1959, marking the start of a new era of Czech theatre.