Prague will host its first Festival of Lights from October 17 -20th. The city’s famous landmarks, cultural monuments, historical buildings, streets and other locations will be highlighted by audio-visual projections and events presented by local and international lighting artists. Among the buildings and landmarks highlighted will be the Tower Clock on Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Kampa Museum, Petřín Tower and Prague’s Dancing House.
The Jan Becher liquor company has posted a 171 million crown pre-tax profit in the financial year 2012-2013, which amounts to an 80 million crown loss year-on-year. The company ascribes the drop to the brief period of prohibition in late 2012 enforced in connection with the methanol crisis and the drop in liquor sales in the following months. Becherovka sales suffered not only in the Czech Republic, but in Slovakia, Russia, Germany, Hungary and Ukraine. The appearance of deadly methanol-laced bootleg liquor on the market caused a nation-wide scare, claiming 47 lives. The sale of all spirits plummeted in the wake of the scandal.
Czech football club Viktoria Plzeň has reached the group stage of Europe’s most prestigious club competition, the Champions League, for the second time. The club defeated Slovenia’s Maribor 1:0 on Wednesday and won 4:1 on aggregate to advance. The game’s lone goal came from Stanislav Tecl in the 3rd minute. In 2011/12 Plzeň also advanced to the group stage. A draw will be held in Monaco later on Thursday to determine match-ups in the finals.
President Miloš Zeman signed a document on Wednesday officially dissolving the lower house of parliament, roughly a week after MPs voted in favour of the motion with 140 votes. It was the first time that the Czech Chamber of Deputies had decided for its own dissolution. The president has scheduled early elections for the last weekend in October – the 25th and 26th. Politicians have begun gearing up for campaigns; a number of new or newer political parties will vie to get into the lower house along with long-established parties, among them Citizen’s Rights – Zemanites, the Greens, Sovereignty, ANO or LES (launched on Tuesday by former environment minister Martin Bursík).
In a statement released on Wednesday, former president Václav Klaus made clear he was turning down a chance to make a political comeback, confirming he will not run in the upcoming election. In recent days there was increased speculation the ex-president would return to party politics; Mr Klaus, who had met with numerous supporters, said he had weighed the decision carefully. In Mr Klaus’ view, he could have founded a party which would have fared successfully, but he made clear that two months to Election Day was too short a period for it to fulfil all of his criteria. The head of the small extra-parliamentary Sovereignty party, Jana Bobošíková, as well as several members of the Civic Democrats strongly backed Mr Klaus’ return. The former president may support one of the existing parties in the coming weeks.
The Constitutional Court has struck down a suspended prison sentence given to midwife Ivana Königsmarková in 2009 for criminal negligence in the birth of a child that died 20 months later. Originally, she received a two-year suspended sentence, a 2.7-million crown fine and was banned from working as a midwife. She has maintained her innocence and said that there was no evidence beforehand that the birth would be a complicated one. She also maintained that the trial was an attack on home births in general by the Czech medical establishment. Her sentence was reaffirmed by the appeals court and the Supreme Court last year.
The outgoing interim government on Wednesday approved the country’s first-ever plan to try and comprehensively tackle the problem of homelessness. The proposal looks at the possibilities in public housing, health care and other social services up until 2020 to help those on the street. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has until the end of the year to outline the order of projects, Minister František Koníček confirmed. According to the minister, the country currently has 30,000 people who are homeless, but the number could rise up to 100,000. The age group most at risk are those over the age of 65, he confirmed.
The Czech Republic lacks enough readily-available psychiatric care for youngsters the country’s ombudsman, Pavel Varvařovský has charged, saying the situation led to needless hospitalisation. The country should have around 100 paediatric psychiatrists but has 30 fewer, he told journalists on Wednesday. The Ombudsman’s Office looked closely at the matter of psychiatric care for children in 2011 and 2012. The Czech Republic currently has three psychiatric centres for children: in Louny, Velká Biteš and Opařany. Problems treated include depression, anti-social behaviour, and eating disorders.
Material damages in a clash between right-wing extremists and police in Ostrava at the weekend and the clean-up cost the city some 70,000 crowns the city said, stressing that a substantially higher sum of more than 465,000 crowns would be the bill for employing riot police. The city’s mayor, Petr Kajnar, suggested that the cost was not unacceptable given the size of the overall budget; at the same time he suggested Ostrava would take legal action against those who damaged property. At the weekend, 300 police officers came out in force; 21 of them and a number of extremists were injured in clashes. Sixty-two people were detained and a number of them charged with disorderly conduct. Extremists have called another demonstration for late September.