The scandal-ridden, junior coalition Public Affairs party is holding a conference in Hradec Králové at the weekend to confirm its re-elected leader, Radek John in his post, and to debate their future role in the centre-right government. The party, which now has two ministers in the 15-member cabinet, would like another two posts they lost as a result of a corruption scandal. However, Mr John, who had been forced to quit as the interior minister, told reporters on Saturday he would return to the government. Earlier this week, PM Petr Nečas threatened to dismiss Public Affairs from the government altogether if they continue to oppose the planned health care reform.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has arrived in the United States for a week-long, business-focused trip. Mr Schwarzenberg, who will visit Texas, California and Washington DC during the trip, is accompanied by representatives of the Czech IT and film industries who will seek new opportunities in the US market. In Washington, the Czech foreign minister is set to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss bilateral relations; the Czechs would also like to start talks on a new investments protection agreement between the two countries.
An insolvency court has approved the declaration of bankruptcy on the troubled lottery firm Sazka, as proposed at Friday’s meeting of the company’s creditors. The decision came after the court heard claims lodged against Sazka worth of around 41.1 billion crowns, or nearly 2.4 billion US dollars. Sazka’s biggest creditors, the financial groups PPF and KKCG, said they would like the firm to continue its lottery and betting business on condition the company’s current management including CEO Aleš Hušák is replaced. The country’s oldest and largest lottery operator got into problems over a construction of a multi-billion sports arena in Prague. In March, it was declared insolvent..
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority began inspections on Friday of vegetables imported from Spain in response to the outbreak of the E.coli bacteria. Eight people have died in Germany of the infection which has spread to several other countries. A spokesman for the Czech food and drink watchdog said inspections will go on for at least a week; first results should be known by Monday. Meanwhile, a number of retailers, including Tesco and Kaufland, have pulled Spanish cucumbers, tomatoes and other produce off their shelves.
The demolition began on Saturday of Prague’s historic Štvanice ice hockey rink. The city-owned venue, which was completed in 1932 as the first hockey rink in the country, was in state of severe disrepair, and the local authorities ordered its demolition on Friday despite the fact it was registered as a protected monument. The authorities argued its reconstruction would have been too expensive. The Štvanice ice hockey rink hosted four world championships, the last of them in 1959. Due to its poor state, the ice rink was closed down in January this year.
A small group of people commemorated on Saturday the victims of the “Brno death march” during which hundreds of ethnic Germans died who had been expelled from the city at the end of May 1945, in the wake of WWII. Twelve people took part in the event, walking some 30 km along the route of the march to Pohořelice, towards the Austrian border. Organizers said rainy weather probably deterred more participants.
On May 30 and 31, 1945, some 20,000 Brno’s German-speaking citizens were rounded up by Czech paramilitaries and walked off to the border. Estimates on the number of victims vary between 1,600 and 10,000. This and several other outbursts of anti-German hatred preceded an organized and more humane expulsion of around three million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia.
A 33 year-old German speaking foreigner was arrested in Prague on Saturday after having caused five accidents while driving some 63 in the wrong lane of the R10 motorway from eastern Bohemia to the capital. The man in a white Mitsubishi was driving at up to 180 km per hour, far exceeding the speed limit. Nobody was seriously injured in the accidents, police said. The man was taken to a Prague hospital for a drug test which proved he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to the hospital’s spokeswoman. The police are yet to raise charges against the driver.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová beat Vania King from the US 6.4, 6.2 at the French Open on Saturday and advanced to the tournament’s fourth round. The Czech was leading 3:0 in the first set and won despite many unforced errors. In the second set, Kvitová won four games in a row to eventually take the match in one hour and 24 minutes. In the fourth round, the ninth seeded Czech will play China’s Na Li, seeded sixth.
The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy with rain showers in places. Daytime highs should range between 17 and 20 degrees Celsius.