Social Democratic chairman Bohuslav Sobotka announced on Tuesday that he wants his party to hold a referendum to confirm a possible future coalition agreement with the ANO and Christian Democratic parties. The referendum could be held in January. After a meeting on economic issues with ANO representatives on Tuesday, Mr. Sobotka is planning to meet with the Christian Democratic chairman Pavel Bělobrádek on Wednesday to discuss tax policies.
Police are investigating the murder of influential businessman and member of the Social Democratic Party Roman Houska. According to the internet news site Novinky.cz Houska was shot in his garage on Monday night and the house appeared to have been ransacked following the murder. The news site says the victim recently boasted that he had compromising materials on several influential people from the world of politics and business in the Ustí region. Police have placed an information embargo on the case.
The Czech Health Ministry has issued the first license for the import of medical marijuana. The Czech company Elkoplast Slušovice was granted the license to import three kilograms of marijuana from the Netherlands, which will be sold for medical purposes in a pharmacy in Zlín. Another company has also fulfilled all the requirements for importing medical marijuana, but has not requested a license yet. The sale of medical marijuana in pharmacies was legalized this summer, but the drug has not been made available yet. Czech doctors are now able to prescribe at most 30 grams of medical marijuana per month to patients with chronic pain symptoms as well as illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer or AIDS.
According to the annual report by the Czech National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, problems with alcohol abuse are growing among Czechs. Approximately one in twelve people have a problem with alcohol. Some 160 thousand adults have at least five glasses of alcohol a day. The monitoring center estimates that around 600,000 people in this country may be alcoholics. The use of illegal drugs last year was highest in the past decade, with three quarters of them using methamphetamines. Although cannabis remains the most commonly used illegal drug in the Czech Republic, the number of regular users is decreasing. The number of heroin users has decreased by more than half in the past ten years.
Prague City Council has approved a change in the city zoning scheme, which would allow for the construction of a tram line connecting Vinohradská street with Wenceslas square and the city’s main train station. The plan to create such a tram line awaits a lengthy approval process. The City Assembly as well as Prague 1 have criticized a previous plan for the return of a tram line going down Wenceslas Square. Originally, a tram line went all the way down from the National Museum to the bottom of the square and then along the Na Příkopě street.
The smog alert, which was issued by meteorologists on Sunday, has been called off in the Moravian-Silesian region. As a long-term solution to the air pollution in the area, the Ostrava city hall is planning to plant hundreds of thousands of new trees around the city, which should separate industrial zones from residential ones and help collect dust participles in the air. Smog alerts are a common occurrence in winters in the Ostrava region, as well as in the Karvina, Frydek-Místek and Třínec regions, which are all industrial centers.
Plzen coach Pavel Vrba is to be the new coach of the Czech national football team, the Czech Football Federation announced on Monday. Vrba will take up the post on January 1, 2014, using an option to end his contract with Plzen before it expires. He will replace Michal Bilek who resigned from the post following the national team’s failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The team is currently led by interim coach Josef Pesice. The 49-year-old Vrba led Plzen to the lucrative Champions League twice in the last three years.
A new film about Major Zeman, a detective from a popular Communist-era police TV series from the 1970’s, is in the works, according to the new server iDnes.cz. Script writer Josef Klíma has confirmed that he was commissioned to write a script about the retired police major, and actor Vladimír Brabec, who played the lead role in the Thirty Cases of Major Zeman series, said he has been approached about the role. The production team may have difficulty getting the permission to use the name of the character from the children of the series’ original scriptwriter and director Jiří Sequens. Recently a number of films have come out in the Czech Republic, reviving famous movie and TV personalities from the so-called normalization era.
The awards for the best pictures in the Czech Press Photo competition were awarded on Tuesday at the Old Town Hall in Prague. The main prize was award to the Czech Press Agency photographer Michal Kamaryt for his picture of former Central Bohemian governor David Rath through a window in an elevator at a courthouse. The Prague Grant award for pictures of changes in the Czech capital was given to Eduard Erben for his photographs of senior citizens performing unusual sports around the city. An international jury was selecting from almost 3,600 photographs submitted by around 300 authors. The best photographs of this year’s Czech Press Photo competition will be on view at the Old Town Hall until the end of January.
The former chairwoman of the lower house Miroslava Němcová has called a constituting session of the new Chamber of Deputies. The house will meet on November 25th at 2pm for the swearing in of deputies and procedural matters such as the election of MPs to committees and sub-committees. The session is expected to continue for several days.