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.
A court in Brno on Wednesday sentenced two men to 19 years in prison for the murder of an ex-police officer. The court said the two men shot their victim dead in front of his home in Brno in June, 2010. The murder was a contract killing ordered by a Brno businessman who was also arrested but committed suicide while in jail. The former policeman allegedly ran an extortion ring whose members are facing trial.
The Czech Republic’s footballers ended an unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign on a positive note with a 1:0 away win over Bulgaria on Tuesday night. The only goal of the game came from midfielder Bořek Dočkal early in the second half. The victory left the Czechs, who had already failed to reach Brazil next year, third in their group behind winners Italy and Sweden. Coach Michal Bílek quit with two matches remaining when it became clear his charges were out.
The head of the government’s human rights department Monika Šimůnková has been dismissed from office for allegedly violating internal regulations. She is to be replaced by the current head of the government’s agency for social integration Martin Šimáček. Ms. Šimůnková, who was dismissed by the head of the government’s office, has denied any wrongdoing and told reporters she would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok on Wednesday. She retains the post of the government’s human rights commissioner for which she is directly answerable to the prime minister. The internet news site which broke the story aktualne.cz has suggested her dismissal might be linked to reports that she resisted efforts to radically reduce the government’s human rights section which currently employs about 50 people.
Social Democrat shadow finance minister Jan Mládek has said the Czech Republic should curb its criticism of Russia and China in the interest of improving business ties with the two countries. At a business conference in Prague Mr. Mládek said the Czech Republic needed to expand its business interests outside the EU, predominantly to Russia and China and noted that excessive criticism of these countries’ human rights records was not aiding the process and was costing the country thousands of potential jobs. This view was supported by the acting chairman of the centre-right Civic Democrats Martin Kuba who said that even superpowers often tailored their diplomacy to their business interests.
Trade unions in the country’s largest coal mining company OKD have gone on strike alert in protest against the conditions of a proposed collective agreement for 2014-2018. The proposed agreement was put forward by a government mediator after year-long negotiations between trade unions and employers failed to produce results. The head of trade unions at the Paskov mine, which is slated for closure next year, said the strike alert would remain in place until an agreement is reached.
A Prague court has cleared the former police president Petr Lessy of slander charges, over which he was dismissed from office in 2012 by then interior minister Jan Kubice. The libel charge pressed against Lessy was based on statements he made in the press when he insinuated that a subordinate officer had swept criminal investigations under the rug. Mr. Lessy has vehemently denied the charges saying it had been a strategy to remove him from office since under Czech law the police president cannot be dismissed unless he is suspected of having committed a crime. Mr. Lessy now says he will strive to be reinstated.
Billionaire Petr Kellner’s PPF Group NV is in talks to acquire the Czech Republic’s biggest telephone company, potentially putting an end to eight years of control by Spanish carrier Telefonica SA, the Bloomberg news agency reports. Telefonica has been exploring strategic options for its 69 percent stake in Telefonica Czech Republic AS and according to an unnamed source cited in the Bloomberg report PPF is currently the only bidder for the holding, which has a market value of 3.9 billion dollars.
President Miloš Zeman has started a three-day tour of the central Bohemian region during which he is meeting with local politicians, entrepreneurs, students and members of the public. He is visiting the Philip Morris factory in Kutná Hora, his birthplace Kolín where he worked at a local engineering factory, a hospital in Příbram and an old age home in the town of Dobříš, among others. The president announced shortly after taking office that he would be touring all the regions with the exception of Prague where he now resides.