The West Bohemian City of Plzeň has officially launched its year as European Capital of Culture 2015. One of the main events marking the launch on Saturday was a “symphony of bells” in the city’s churches at 17:30. Other events being planned as part of the ongoing three-day festivities are a show on the main square náměstí Republiky involving a large video mapping project, acrobats, musicians and other artists. An extensive exhibition dedicated to legendary, locally-born animator Jiří Trnka also began on Saturday.
Temperatures in the Czech Republic are not expected to fall far below freezing point until between now and the middle of February, according to a monthly forecast issued on Saturday by the Czech Hyrdo-Meteorological Institute. Over the next four weeks daytime temperatures should range between minus 2 and plus three degrees Celsius, the forecasters said.
Developers are planning to create a new district on the Prague island of Rohanský ostrov in the next 15 years. The director of the Sekyra Group told the Czech News Agency it plans to invest up to CZK 15 billion into the project on the borders of the city’s Karlín and Libeň districts. The firm expects to buy the site, measuring around 200,000 square metres, from the city for around CZK 1.7 billion before beginning construction in 2016. The island has been largely neglected since being submersed during flooding in 2002.
Popular rock musician Michal Hrůza has announced his first concert plans since sustaining a serious brain injury while attempting to stop a fight in Ostrava last July. The tour, entitled Michal Hrůza’s Night and Day, will get underway in Prague in March before visiting seven other Czech cities and towns. The singer-songwriter was hospitalised with a brain haemorrhage and concussion after being set upon by two men in the centre of Ostrava during the city’s Colours festival.
Czech ornithologists are this weekend conducting a count of waterbirds as part of an annual International Waterbird Census being held for the 50th time. Environmentalists and scout groups are also taking part in the Czech census. As weather conditions are similar, the ornithologists expect the results to be in line with those for 2014, when a record number of sea ducks were registered; 110 greater scaups and 50 velvet scoters were seen, mainly at large Czech reservoirs.
The government is likely to reject a bill put forward by a group of its own deputies to compensate former soldiers and Minister of Defence staff who were dismissed for political reasons in the communist era, the Czech News Agency reported. A preliminary position paper released ahead of a cabinet meeting on Monday says the proposal neglects other groups who were similarly treated by the former regime, including those in the education, security and judicial fields. Under the bill, drafted by MPs from all three coalition parties, the ex-soldiers and ministry officials would get an additional CZK 1,500 monthly in their old age pensions.
The Czech tennis player Jiří Veselý has won the Heineken Open in Auckland, New Zealand for the first ATP title of his career. The 21-year-old, who entered the competition as a qualifier, beat Adrian Mannarino of France in Saturday’s final. The result means that Veselý is set to climb over 20 places to just outside the top 40 in the world rankings.
Plzeň's Capital of Culture celebrations will kick off on Saturday with a grand opening ceremony, featuring more than 150 artists from the Czech Republic and abroad, the largest video mapping in the country and the sound of new bells from the local cathedral. A wide variety of events have been planned over the weekend and around 600 events have been planned in the course of 2015. Plzeň is the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, with almost 170,000 inhabitants.
The BIS counter-intelligence does not have any information which would indicate that the Czech Republic faces an immediate risk of a terrorist attack, its spokesman Jan Šubert told the ctk news agency on Friday. The BIS announcement came in reaction to a statement by Europol head Rob Wainwright who said Europe now faces the highest terror threat since the 9/11 attacks in the US. "We do not have any information from our domestic sources or from our partners abroad about any immediate danger threatening the Czech Republic” Šubert said. The Czech government announced recently it was stepping up security at key institutions in the country.
Some 300 people attended a protest against Islam on Prague’s Hradčany Square on Friday evening. The event was organized by the group We Do Not Want Islam in the Czech Republic who have been increasingly vocal in protesting the presence of Muslims in the country. Among those who attended the gathering were a number of politicians, including deputy chair of the Dawn party Marek Černoch, Civic Democrat MP Jana Černochova and Senator Jaroslav Doubrava. The protest passed without incident.