The Czech National Bank has minted a commemorative gold coin worth 10,000 crowns for the 1,150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia. The bank will release 11,000 coins for sale on July 3rd. The coin weighs one Troy ounce and depicts the two saints on one side, and on the other the Great Moravian prince Rostislav, upon whose request Cyril and Methodius arrived in his kingdom in 863 from Constantinople to evangelize his subjects and subsequently translate the Bible into Old Church Slavonic.
No. 7 seed Tomáš Berdych reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon on Monday, defeating unseeded Australian Bernard Tomic in four sets. The final score was 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. The win sets up a quarterfinal against Novak Djokovic. In April, Berdych secured a rare win against the World No.1 in the Rome Masters; the only other time he has beaten him in 15 outings was in 2010, en route to the Wimbledon final where Berdych ended up losing to Rafael Nadal. The top Czech female player Petra Kvitová has also gone through to the quarter final, where she will face Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium. The Czech doubles duo Andrea Hlavačková and Lucie Hradecká are also not lagging behind, and will be playing an Australian team for the chance to be in the semi-final.
One of the most popular summer music festivals in the Czech Republic, Rock for People, is starting up again on Tuesday in Hradec Králové. The festival grounds has been expanded by five hectares, in comparison to last year. Also, after heavy storms that caused a number of problems last year, organizers decided to invest into more security and anti-flooding measures at the event and have left only one of the main stages in the open air, places the rest under giant tents, which will allow the show to continue despite bad weather, which may plague music lovers’ fun again this week. Aside from a wide offer of local bands, there will be an even greater number of international artists at the festival, including the bands Thirty Seconds to Mars, Gogol Bordello and Papa Roach.
Meteorologists are warning of heavy storms across Bohemia, which should start at around 3 pm on Wednesday. Possible torrential rains, strong winds and even hail can be expected. The Hydro-meteorological office has issued warnings for all Bohemian regions, saying that there may be as much as 30 millimeters of precipitation per hour and winds of up to 72 kilometers per hour.
Swiss prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison term and steep fines for six Czechs charged with fraud and money laundering in connection with the privatization of the second Czech largest coal mining firm Mostecká uhelná, or MUS. They claim that the company’s former managers used MUS’ own assets in their 1999 takeover of the firm, diverting assets worth billions of crowns to pay for the shares. The charges include money laundering, fraud and forgery of documents, among others. Prosecutor Graziella de Falco Haldemann said the crimes could not have been committed without dummy companies in Switzerland and accounts in Swiss banks.
Former Czech ambassador to the EU, Jan Kohout has accepted an offer to serve as foreign minister in Prime Minister Rusnok’s caretaker cabinet. Mr. Kohout has represented the Czech Republic in several international organizations including the United Nations and OSCE. In 2009-2010 he served as foreign minister in Jan Fisher’s interim government. In a brief statement for the CTK news agency on Monday, Mr. Kohout said his main priorities would be to stabilize the situation at the Czech Foreign Ministry and break the deadlock in the process of naming new ambassadors.
Prime Minister designate Jiří Rusnok has so far secured six ministers for his caretaker cabinet, filling among others the posts of interior minister, justice minister and health minister. Two other key positions –the top posts at the defence and finance ministries - remain vacant. Six candidates have so far refused the prime minister’s offer and political analysts note that Mr. Rusnok is having a hard time finding professionals willing to take on a short stint in his caretaker cabinet. The caretaker cabinet’s chances of winning a vote of confidence in the lower house are also meagre.
The opposition Social Democrats have asked those of its party members who have accepted posts in the Rusnok cabinet to leave the party. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka on Monday reiterated that the Social Democrats were not involved in this attempt to form a government and those party members who chose to join the Rusnok cabinet should make a clean break from the party. Mr. Sobotka said earlier that the caretaker cabinet emerging was not a government of experts but of President Zeman’s close allies in the Citizens’ Rights Party he founded. The Social Democrats have openly asked for a second attempt to form a cabinet, should the Rusnok administration fail to win a vote of confidence. The Social Democrats who have accepted such an offer are Marie Benešová, who is to serve as justice minister, Jan Kohout who has nodded to the foreign ministry portfolio and František Koníček who is to be social affairs minister.
Monday is the last day on which people over 35 can enter the so-called second pillar of the government’s pension insurance scheme, thereby putting part of their pension funds into private insurance companies. So far the scheme has failed to meet expectations with only around 70 thousand people taking advantage of it. The opposition Social Democrats have said they will scrap the second pillar if they get to form the next government.
The head of the South Bohemian police Radomir Herman has defended the actions of a riot squad which used tear gas against an extremist rally in Ceske Budejovice on Saturday. He said the police had done its duty in keeping the several hundred strong ultra-right protest march from coming close to a gathering of some 200 Romany demonstrators in the Maj housing estate. The police arrested 39 people in the skirmishes. No one has as yet been charged. Tension in the city has been high following an incident at a local playground between the parents of several children.