The Prague 10 town hall is willing to pay 43 million crowns for the former residence of the famous writer Karel Čapek. Although a foreign bidder has offered a higher price, the villa’s owner, Karel Scheinpflug has indicated that he would be willing to sell it for the lower price to the local administration. The local town council will vote on the proposal to buy the villa on Monday. Cultural Minister Jiří Balvín has expressed interest in speaking at the council meeting in support of the decision. Karel Čapek and his painter brother Josef had the villa built for them in the early 1920’s. Only the half where Karel lived is currently for sale. The writer’s study has been preserved as it appeared during his lifetime. The Prague 10 council plans to open up a part of the residence to the public, if the sale goes through.
TOP 09 party has started its election campaign on Friday with a tram ride through Prague. The party’s chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, first deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek and other candidates travelled through the capital on the special TOP 09 line, inviting passersby to join them on the tram to talk about their concerns and enjoy the refreshments and entertainment provided. Former Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said that they picked a tram to kick off the campaign for symbolic reasons, to show that the party knows where it is going, and that like a tram it is not backing up on tis way to Western Europe.
Prague councilors have tightened the regulation banning alcohol consumption in public places. The council on Thursday doubled the number of locations where drinking is prohibited, such as parks, playgrounds, squares and bus and tram stops. The regulation is due to go into effect on October 3rd and the fine for violating it is 1,000 crowns. Some 300 towns and cities around the country have similar restrictions.
Representatives of unions, industry and the government met on Friday for three-way talks on the proposal for next year’s budget. Union and industry representatives said that the finance ministry’s draft budget was not conducive enough to economic growth and that the caretaker government should not be so strict in complying with the EU-mandated deficit ceiling of three percent of the GDP. After the talks, Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok announced that the government will not change the 112-billion crown deficit proposed in the draft budget, which is just below three percent of GDP. The outgoing government will be voting on the final proposal next Wednesday, though it will not be discussed by the lower house of parliament until after the general elections in late October. The budget proposal may be significantly altered by the new government and lower house.
The main lounge at the famous television tower on the Ještěd Mountain in northern Bohemia has been reopened after renovation works. The painstaking refurbishing returned the lounge to the way it looked when the tower opened in 1973, with the original interior design by Otakar Binar. The lounge will welcome the first members of the public on Saturday, as part of a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the construction of the tower. The 94-meter tall Ještěd Tower is considered to be one of the most original pieces of modern architecture in the Czech Republic. Its architect Karel Hubáček received the prestigious Auguste Perret Prize from the International Union of Architects in 1969.
The most trusted politician in the Czech Republic at present is outgoing, caretaker Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok. According to the results of a poll conducted by the STEM agency the prime minister is trusted by 50 percent of Czechs. Second place on the popularity ladder toes to Social Democrat Deputy chair Michal Hašek and Senator Tomio Okamura who both got a 46 percent trust rating. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka came fourth with 45 percent. Civic Democrat Deputy chair Jiří Pospíšil, who was the most trusted politician in the country ahead of the scandal that brought down the centre-right government has slipped to 7th place.
Former deputy prime minister Karolina Peake was questioned by the corruption police on Thursday in connection with the spying scandal that brought down the centre-right government of prime minister Petr Nečas. Mrs. Peake, said the questioning had largely focussed on her brief time in office as defence minister and reiterated that she had no knowledge of the fact that the then PM’s chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová had ordered the military intelligence service to shadow his wife. She confirmed Mrs. Nagyová’s seemingly unlimited influence at the time, by telling journalists that she herself had been sacked as defence minister after just eight days in office because she had failed to consult her decisions with the prime minister’s chief-of-staff.
In related news President Miloš Zeman assured the EC chief that the Czech Republic fully realized the importance of adopting a public service act as soon as possible. Mr Barroso stressed that without the legislation, the country could have problems drawing EU funds during the next budgetary period. The Czech Parliament adopted a public service act ahead of the country’s accession to the EU in 2004, but it never entered into force and there has been drawn-out controversy over its proposed amendment.
A 32-year-old woman from Bavaria is reported to have died after smuggling a large number of crystal methamphetamine capsules in her body. The woman bought the drug in the Czech Republic and swallowed the entire amount before heading home, where she was taken ill with severe stomach pains. Doctors were unable to save her life.
The vast majority of parties who have a realistic chance of winning seats in the lower house in October’s general elections are not against the completion of the Temelín nuclear plant assuming that it is safe and affordable. Only the Greens and Senator Tomio Okamura’s Dawn of Direct Democracy party are against the plan to build two more nuclear reactors at Temelín, citing safety reasons and pointing out that the cost of building Temelín’s first two reactors was double the amount originally projected. A final decision on the plant’s completion is expected in late 2014 or early 2015.
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