The police have uncovered a large-scale internet child pornography distribution network, with 32 people under investigation, and possibly eight others being charged in the future. Twenty-seven people were arrested during 46 house searches. Two police officers and one civilian working for the police are suspected of participating in the illegal activity. One of them has been detained. Child pornography was distributed through emails and online forums.
According to the Education Ministry, 16.4% of the almost 88,000 students who took the unified state high school leaving exam for the first time this year failed the test. This is the lowest percentage of failures since the test began to be administered three years ago. In comparison to the previous two years, overall students did worse on the mathematics part of the exam, but improved in the Czech and foreign language parts. This year there was also only one level of difficulty instead of two, which were available in the previous two years. Around 3,000 students filed complaints over the results of the exams. So far 139 complaints were recognized as valid. Last year, around 8,000 asked for their results to be reevaluated.
A painting by the Czech avant-garde artists František Kupka sold for 1.65 million pounds or 49.5 million crowns at a Sotheby’s auction in London. The price for Étude sur Fond Rouge was originally estimated to be only 1 million pounds. The painting was sold as part of an evening auction of impressionist and modernist art, which included works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Salvador Dali.
The Art & Design Institute, a new private art school, has received approval from the Education Ministry’s accreditation commission, its chairwoman Vladimíra Dvořáková announced Wednesday. The school, based in Prague, will open its doors in 2014 and is to be led by the former head of the National Gallery Milan Knížák. The school received accreditation for four years. The project still has to be officially approved by the ministry. It is expected that around 200 students will be accepted, with a maximum of 15 taking classes in individual “studios”. A semester is to cost 35 thousand crowns. Students will be able to begin applying this autumn.
Jaromír Jágr got two assists in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday evening that was again decided in overtime. The Bruins, with Jágr and fellow Czech player David Krejčí, ultimately missed the opportunity to take a stranglehold of the series: Chicago’s Seabrook scored the winner at 9:51 in overtime, tying the best-of-seven series at two apiece heading back to Chicago. The final score was 6:5. Another Czech player, Michal Rozsíval, had two assists on the night for the Blackhawks.
At least 70 meteorological stations around the Czech Republic have measured record high temperatures in the last four days. The highest measurement as of Thursday was in Prague’s Karlov station, where it was 36.5 degrees Celsius during the day, which beat the 2002 record by two whole degrees. The oldest meteorological station in Prague’s Clementinum, which has been recording data since 1775, will announce the highest measurement for the day in the evening, and it is expected to break even the temperature in Karlov. Thursday, though, is expected to be the last day of extreme heat in the near future. Starting Friday temperatures are expected to decrease and rain will most likely set in for the next week.
The Civic Democrat leadership has named Miroslava Němcová – until now the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies – candidate for prime minister. Agreement on her candidacy was unanimous, the acting head of the party, Martin Kuba, announced. Mrs Němcová has been a member of the lower house for the past 15 years and is highly-respected as a politician. The leaders of the other two coalition parties, TOP 09 and LIDEM, reacted by saying Mrs Němcová was a sound choice. If all three coaltion parties agree on Němcová, the decision whether to name her as prime minister designate will be up to the president.
In his first press conference since the fall of the government on Monday, President Miloš Zeman stressed that naming the next prime minister designate and doing so quickly was his responsibility as the head-of-state. The current coalition of the Civic Democrats, TOP 09, and LIDEM officially ended on Monday following the premier’s resignation; the cabinet has been asked to govern for an interim period. As a way out of the crisis, the president could name a candidate from among the Civic Democrats to try and renew the centre-right coalition or could decide on a candidate of his own choosing to lead a caretaker government. The president has also not ruled out the possibility of early elections, but made clear the drawback there would be legislation (due to be discussed by Parliament) being swept off the table. Early elections would also cost the country around 500 million crowns, Mr Zeman noted, would be “thrown out the window”.
In related news, the president is to meet with representatives of the different parties in the Chamber of Deputies over the course of the upcoming weekend. The meetings, dealing with the government crisis, are to take place at the presidential Lány chateau. The leader of the Social Democratic Party Bohuslav Sobotka and deputy leader Michal Hašek are scheduled for Saturday evening, Sobotka confirmed. Both the Social Democrats and the Communists are calling for early elections and are not in favour of the last coalition returning under a new prime minister. The Social Democrats have also said they would turn down an offer to try and form a government now.
Police questioned Jana Nagyová – the former chief-of-staff to outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas – for six hours on Wednesday, her lawyer revealed. The aide, linked romantically to Mr Nečas, has been charged with bribery and abuse of office and is a central figure in the scandal that brought down the government this week. According to her lawyer, Eduard Brun, Ms Nagyová answered questions in detail. Mr Brun said it surfaced during the questioning that his client had not meet with politicians as a state official but as a friend. Ms Nagyová allegedly had the prime minister’s wife and others spied on by military intelligence.