The Czech Republic’s biggest health insurer VZP plans to seek a loan of CZK 2.5 billion from the Ministry of Health, the former’s director Zdeněk Kabátek said on a Czech Television debate show on Sunday. Mr. Kabátek said that the minister of health, Martin Holcát, had already expressed support for such a loan, which would fill a gap in VZP’s budget for this year. The insurer’s director also said that it planned to buy the controversial website IZIP, via which it communicates with its clients, for CZK 59 million. At present VZP spends CZK 72 million every year on the site’s services.
A flood protection system at Prague Zoo should be extended within the next three years, the city’s first deputy mayor Jiří Vávra said at an event marking the 82nd anniversary of the institution’s opening. According to an analysis that Mr. Vávra presented, it is possible to erect barriers around the zoo without causing greater flood damage to other spots in the Czech capital. The report was commissioned after flooding in June that badly affected lower parts of the zoo, which had been devastated during severe floods in 2002. This year’s damages are expected to exceed CZK 100 million.
Police in Prague made 82 arrests on Saturday night in connection with a game between the city’s two biggest soccer clubs Sparta and Slavia at the latter’s Eden Stadium. The majority of those arrested were Sparta fans. Most were detained for misdemeanours, while 13 are suspected of promoting fascism or disorderly behaviour, the Czech New Agency reported. Police said they were also looking for a man who threw a firecracker into a group of Slavia fans. Sparta won the game 2:0 and maintained their lead in the Czech top division.
Major road works on the Czech Republic’s busiest motorway, the D1, have come to an end for this year. A section of the highway between Loket and Hořice was reopened on Sunday morning, meaning the entire road – which runs from Prague to Ostrava – is now open to motorists. The huge modernisation project is set to cost CZK 14 billion, much of which will be drawn from European Union funds.
A moving express train came close to crashing into a stationary express train at Neratovice in central Bohemia on Saturday evening. The fact the two machines were on the same track has been blamed on human error. After the emergency brakes were activated on the moving train it came to a halt around 100 metres from the one that was standing. No passengers were injured in the incident, which follows a similar situation involving two local trains on the outskirts of Brno earlier this month.
The renowned Brno theatre Husa na provázku has marked the 45th anniversary of its establishment with a nine-day festival that came to a conclusion on Sunday. A representative of the theatre said most of the events in the Theatre in Movement festival – including at unusual venues such as the Moravian capital’s Villa Tugendhat – had been sold out, adding that it was still pushing to have a nearby alleyway renamed after the late playwright and president Václav Havel, who had a long association with the theatre.
The Czech Republic’s Tomáš Berdych has been beaten in the final of tennis’s Thailand Open in Bangkok. The tournament’s top seed lost 6-7 3-6 to Milos Raonic of Canada on Sunday and remains the only player among the world’s top 10 not to have won a title in 2013. Berdych, who is 28, last lifted a title in Stockholm in October last year.
People around the Czech Republic took part in masses and other events on Saturday to mark the day of St. Wenceslas (Václav), the country’s patron saint. Thousands of people attended a traditional pilgrimage held in Stará Boleslav, the small town near Prague where St. Wenceslas was murdered on September 28 907; the event culminated with a mass served by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, Archbishop Dominik Duka. Saturday was a state holiday.
Ultra nationalists demonstrated in central Prague on Saturday against what they described as the Czech Republic’s decay in the post-1989 period. Around 120 people took part in the protest, bearing slogans such as “national identity instead of globalised grey masses” and chanting against multiculturalism. In a speech on Wenceslas Square, one of the organisers called on voters to back parties defending Czech national interests in next month’s election, adding that some sections of the population should have their voting rights removed. Another group, of around 40 people, held a counter demonstration entitled We Won’t Give Wenceslas to the Nazis. There were no clashes between the two sides.
Around 1,000 people took part in a demonstration in support of the Russian rock band Pussy Riot outside the country’s embassy in Prague on Saturday. One of the organizers told the Czech News Agency that freedom was indivisible and that if people did not support it now in Russia, it would be threatened in the Czech Republic. Three members of Pussy Riot received prison terms in Moscow last year for performing a crude song in a cathedral in the city; one has since been released and one of the two still in custody is on hunger strike.