The authorities on Tuesday released details about Václav Havel’s funeral procession. The casket with the remains of the late Czech president will leave the Prague Crossroads centre in Prague’s Old Town, where it has lain in state since Monday, at 8 AM on Wednesday. The casket will be placed on the same gun carriage that was used in the funeral procession of Czechoslovakia’s first president, T. G. Masaryk, in 1937, and will be drawn by three pairs of horses. The procession will cross Charles Bridge and move up to the Prague Castle area where it should arrive by 10 AM. After a brief ceremony at the Castle Guards barracks, the coffin will be transported to the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle where it will remain until Friday’s funeral ceremony. Václav Havel’s widow, Dagmar Havlová, has invited the public to join the procession.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend the funeral of Václav Havel in Prague on Friday, his office said on Tuesday. Mr Sarzkozy will be one of many world leaders attending the funeral of the late Czech president and playwright, along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the former US president Bill Clinton, as well as the presidents of Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Poland, and other countries. The funeral of Václav Havel, who died on Sunday aged 75, will be held in Prague’s St Vitus Cathedral on Friday; the ceremony will begin at noon.
Amidst media speculation that the Kremlin ignored the death of former Czech leader Václav Havel, the Russian embassy in Prague on Tuesday said an official condolence was sent to President Václav Klaus on Monday. A spokesman for the embassy said the condolence on behalf of the Russian Federation’s leaders, President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, was sent through diplomatic channels to Prague Castle. The spokesman also said the embassy had not received an official invitation for the funeral.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Tuesday honoured the late president, playwright and human rights advocate Václav Havel. MPs held a minute of silence and the speaker of the house, Miroslava Němcová, read out some of Václav Havel’s quotes. The lawmakers also listened to an address by Václav Havel to the lower house from 2003. The ceremony concluded with the Czech national anthem.
The Czech lower house on Tuesday passed a new bill allocating revenues from gambling to the state and municipalities. If the bill is signed into law by the president, municipalities will keep 80 percent of revenues from gambling machines and the rest will go to the state budget. Local authorities will also keep 70 percent of revenues from casinos, lotteries and other games. The new legislation should enter into force in January 2012.
The gambling taxation bill, part of the government’s tax reform package, was originally approved by the lower house in November but left a loophole for lottery firms to use part of the revenues for charitable projects of their choice. The bill was amended in the Senate which removed the loophole before returning it to the lower house for the final vote.
President Václav Klaus has appointed MP Alena Hanáková the new culture minister. Ms Hanáková is a member of the Mayors and Independents Party which is associated with TOP 09 and was formerly the mayor of the Moravian town of Vizovice. Her main task in heading the Ministry of Culture will be completing the restitution of church property. She replaces fellow party member Jiří Besser, whose departure from the cabinet last week was compelled by the fact that he had failed to report property and business interests in the United States in his property statement.
The Czech writer Hana Andronikova died of cancer on Tuesday, aged 44, the management of Prague’s Archa Theatre said. Ms Andronikova wrote her first novel, The Sound of the Sun Dial, in 2001, and won several awards for it, including the Magnesia Litera award for best debut. Her most acclaimed novel Heaven Has No Floor, which came out in 2011, describes her struggle with cancer. Hana Andronikova also authored several theatre plays.
The Czech opera singer Václav Zítek died on Tuesday at the age of 79, a spokesman for the Czech National Theatre said. Václav Zítek’s refined vocal performance made him an exceptional singer particularly in pieces by Bedřich Smetana. The baritone singer spent 25 years as a soloist in the opera of Prague’s National Theatre. In 2007, he received the prestigious Czech theatrical award, Thalia, for life time achievement.
The mining companies Czech Coal wants to build a new coal-fired power plant and connect it to the power grid by 2021. The firm has signed a contract with the grid’s administrator for the capacity of 660 MW. The new power plant, which should cost around 30 billion crowns, could be built near the town of Most, in northern Bohemia. The Czech branch of the environmental organization Greenpeace said the plan to build a new coal-fired power plant was unacceptable.
Czech football defender Tomáš Řepka quit Sparta Prague on Tuesday, after he agreed to prematurely terminate his contract in the club. The 37-year-old former Sparta captain will be a free agent since January; however, it is not clear if and where the defender will play after that. Tomáš Řepka played for a number of Czech clubs before spending three seasons in Italy’s Fiorentina and five years in the English club West Ham United. He returned to Sparta in 2006. Between 1993 and 2003, Řepka played 45 matches for the Czech national team but throughout his career, he has had disciplinary problems, often lacking self-control. He received a total of 18 red cards, and on one occasion attacked game officials and a TV crew.
The next few days will be mostly overcast with rain and snow in places. Daytime highs should range between 0 and +4 degrees Celsius.