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Zeman: Havel was not 'reform communist' but 'Utopian'

President Miloš Zeman says a predecessor, Vaclav Havel, was a 'Utopian' who believed in a brave new world but lacked the 'motor' to bring it about. Speaking on Czech Radio on Sunday as part of the Interviews from Lány series, Mr. Zeman said Mr. Havel had failed to react to large-scale asset stripping in the privatisation era until 1997. However, he rejected a statement by another former president, Vaclav Klaus, who compared the leader of the Velvet Revolution to a 'reform communist' in an interview published on Saturday.

Mr. Zeman - who employed several swear words in the interview - also said that a review of a civil service bill he has petitioned for at the Constitutional Court will concern more than the fact that it formally allows for politically appointed deputy ministers. A presidential veto of the law was earlier overturned by the Chamber of Deputies. He said the president’s offices lawyers had found several other shortcomings in the legislation. The government says the bill will depoliticise the civil service.

Mládek: Government wants long-term energy plan based on nuclear and coal power

The minister of industry and trade, Jan Mládek, says the government wants to push through a long-term energy plan based on nuclear and coal power. Speaking on a TV discussion show on Sunday, Mr. Mládek said the cabinet did not want to go down the route of gas-fuelled power stations or the large scale support of renewable resources. The minister said brown coal was an important source of power that ought to be used while respecting mining limits. The government is due to discuss the energy plan before the end of the year.

Court refuses to return farm confiscated from Mašín family

The Supreme Court has refused to return a family farm to Zdena Mašínová, sister of the Mašín brothers, who dramatically escaped from Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s. The farm in Central Bohemia was confiscated by the Communists. The court said the property could only be returned to all the heirs; however, the late Ctirad Mašín and his brother Josef had been disqualified from applying for restitution on the grounds that they lived abroad. A lawyer for Zdena Mašínová said she would take the matter to the Constitutional Court.

People visiting graveyards around Czech Republic to mark All Souls’ Day

People around the Czech Republic have been visiting graveyards to remember late family members and friends on Dušičky or All Souls’ Day. The Roman Catholic holiday involves visiting and tending graves and lighting candles, though many people do so ahead of November 2. The head of the country’s Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka, will serve a mass in commemoration of the departed at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul at Prague’s Vyšehrad on Sunday evening.

Large fall reported in number of young people engaged in organised sports since 1989

There has been a large fall in the number of young Czechs engaging in organised sports since the fall of the communism in 1989, the Czech News Agency reported. The number registered in youth categories with the Czech Union of Sport – an umbrella group bringing together three-quarters of the country’s sports clubs – has fallen by over a third in the last 25 years and stood at just under 340,000 at the end of last year.

Mild weather set to continue in coming weeks

Temperatures in the Czech Republic should remain considerably higher than average for the time of year in the next two weeks. The long-term average for the period from November 3 to 30 is 2.8 degrees Celsius but in the next fortnight we can expect day-time highs of up to 10 degrees Celsius. According to a long-term forecast from the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute, the whole month of November should be relatively dry.

Plzeň now four points clear after home win over second-placed Sparta

Viktoria Plzeň have extended their lead at the top of Czech soccer’s top flight after a 2:0 home win over second-placed Sparta Prague on Saturday night. Plzeň found the net twice in the first 23 minutes in a game in which the visitors did not have one shot on target. The West Bohemian club are now four points clear of Sparta, who are defending champions.