The movie Burning Bush by Polish director Agnieszka Holland, depicting the aftermath of the self-immolation of Jan Palach following the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, has won the SIGNIS award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. The prize is awarded in recognition of films that express social and humanitarian concerns, as well as spiritual and artistic values. The film recently picked up a record 11 prizes at the Czech Lion film awards in Prague including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
A forty-one-year-old miner died in an accident at the OKD Darkov mine in Karviná on Saturday night, the ctk news agency reports. He is the third OKD miner to be killed in an accident since the start of this year. The accident is being investigated by a team of experts. A spokesman for OKD said safety norms were strictly observed and the number of accidents in recent years had been significantly reduced.
A book by Vasil Bil’ak, a former hard-line communist leader who paved the way for the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, has hit bookshelves just two months after his death. In the book, which revolves around the crucial year 1968, Bil’ak admits that he knew about the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia a week in advance, but insists that he did not sign a letter of invitation to the former Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev which served as a pretext for the invasion. Bil’ak was charged with high treason in 1991 but the case was later closed for lack of evidence. The book’s publisher said Bil’ak had refused to release it for publishing before his death.
Tens of thousands of households in Prague were hit by a brief power failure on Sunday, the ctk news agency reported. According to a spokesman for the PRE power company the fall-out hit the entire southern part of the metropolis and was caused by a technical failure at the Chodov power transmitter. The cause of the failure is being investigated. Most households were without power for around 30 minutes.
The Christian Democrats of the governing coalition say their campaign for elections to the European Parliament will include a call for the alliance to scrap the annual transition to summertime. Tomáš Zdechovský who is third on the party’s ticket, says he is ready to support the initiative “For Only One Time” since the change has many negative impacts which were not anticipated and has not proved as cost-saving as earlier assumed.
The Czech Republic gained much through EU membership, but failed to make the best use of the potential it offered, according to former EU commissioner Pavel Telička. In an interview for the ctk news agency in connection with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the country’s accession to the EU on May 1st, Mr. Telička said Czechs had benefitted from the free movement of people, labour and goods, but due to their own negative attitude had thrown away the chance to help mould important concepts and norms that would later apply across the EU. We were viewed as a troublemaker and thus often left out of informal talks, Mr. Telička said. The present centre-left government has vowed to bring the country back to the EU mainstream and take an active part in moulding the future of Europe.
The Czech Republic wrapped up its Davis Cup quarterfinal against Japan on Sunday with two more victories to complete a 5-0 sweep. Lukáš Rosol beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6:3 3:6 6:4 in the first reverse singles three-set dead rubber at Ariake Coliseum while Jiří Veselý defeated Taro Daniel 6:4 6:4 in the second match. The Czechs, chasing their third straight title, had already secured a fifth semi-final spot in six years after winning the doubles on Saturday. They will now advance to a semi-final against the winner of the quarterfinal between Germany and France in the semi-finals in September.
Representatives of the country’s Olah Romanies elected a new king in the town of Hradec Králové on Saturday. Their new monarch is to be fifty-two-year- old entrepreneur Robert Beneš from Brno. Although Benes was elected by Olah representatives from dozens of towns and cities, he may not be accepted by all Olah Romanies. For instance the Olah clan from Ostrava was notably absent from the vote. Elections of previous Olah kings have been known to stir controversy. In 2001 Jan Lipa was elected king of the Olahs, but a congregation of Olah Romanies in Brno refused to accept him and elected Jan Horvátko instead. Lipa died in 2012, Horvátko a year later.
A poll conducted by the Median agency suggests that the Social Democrats would once again win general elections gaining 21 percent of the vote, trailed by ANO which would receive 19.5 percent. The Communist Party would come third with 15 percent support, followed by TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats with 11.5 and 8.5 percent respectively. The poll contradicts the findings of the CVVM, STEM and PPM factum agencies which in March all featured ANO as the strongest party on the Czech political scene today.
A prisoner on the run was employed as chief economist by the National Museum of Agriculture from which he syphoned off ten million crowns before being detected, commercial TV Nova reported. The man who was serving a seven-year sentence for embezzlement escaped from the Hradec Králové jailhouse last summer and shortly after won an open competition for the position of chief economist at the Museum of Agriculture under a false identity. He syphoned off a third of the museum’s annual budget before being detected and once again managed to escape as police were arresting him.