Five former employees at Prague’s City Hall were handed suspended sentences on Monday, ranging between one to three years in prison. The Municipal Court found the five guilty of wrongdoing in the Opencard case – specifically that they had signed disadvantageous contracts with producer Haguess for the implementation of the multi-purpose card. The system reportedly cost around 1.25 billion crowns. The card is used primarily as a transit pass but is also used in libraries. Monday’s ruling may be appealed.
The oldest known Holocaust survivor, Prague-born pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, has died at the age of 110. Born in 1903, she was from a German speaking Jewish family and knew such figures as Franz Kafka and Max Brod. The Nazis interned her at the Terezín concentration camp, where she was to take part in over 100 concerts, in 1943. After the war Herz-Sommer lived in Israel for four decades before moving to London, where she passed away on Sunday.
Reporter Martin Veselovský announced on Monday that he will be leaving Události, komentáře – a respected news and analysis programme broadcast daily on Czech TV. Mr Veselovský, who is also a top name at Czech Radio’s flagship Radiožurnál, indicated that after six years on the show he was seeking a professional change. Události, komentáře in a relatively short space of time has now lost two seasoned anchors along with three editors. Mr Veselovský will leave the show at the end of March.
In related news, Daniela Drtinová who left Události, komentáře earlier, and was given her own interview show, announced she will also be leaving the public broadcaster.
A new poll conducted by the CVVM agency suggests that two-fifths of Czechs at the beginning of February followed events in Ukraine. According to the survey, 63 percent had a favorable opinion of protestors and the 55 percent of the opposition in the conflict; by contrast only 10 percent said the same of Ukraine’s then-government or 11 percent of now ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. The CVVM survey was conducted from February 3 to 10.
Czech President Miloš Zeman appointed 85 university professors, the president’s office announced on Monday. The step was taken last week. The candidates waited months for the appointment as the president had intended to give up his power to grant professorship after last year´s controversy over the appointment of literary scholar Martin C. Putna. The head-of-state opted to appoint the candidates in the end after a new bill, aiming to transfer the power to the head of the Senate, was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies.
In mid-January, Mr Zeman said if the bill failed in parliament, he would sign the appointment decrees but he would empower the education minister to present them to professors. University rectors agreed the procedure although it is provisory. Education Minister Marcel Chládek has proposed several alternative solutions, including one which says that professors can be appointed either by the Senate chairperson, the education minister or universities themselves.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, of the Social Democrats, had to undergo emergency surgery after suffering internal bleeding from an operation last week. Mr Chovanec underwent long-planned plastic surgery in the abdominal area after he lost several dozen kilos under a weight-loss plan. A day later he complained of intense abdominal pain, leading doctors to act.
The police are investigating a case of suspected methanol poisoning in the region of Vysočina: a 58-year-old man was admitted to hospital in Nové Město na Moravě in critical condition after having possibly drunk tainted liquor. His is the second case of suspected poisoning over the last few days: in Boskovice na Blaneňsku a 52-year-old was admitted to hospital several days ago but is recovering. In 2012, the Czech Republic suffered an outbreak of widespread methanol poisoning that gradually claimed 51 lives. More than thirty people are charged in the case involving the production of tainted bootleg liquor. The police suspect that some 2,000 litres of the deadly mix remains unrecovered.
Traditional Spring break – a week off from school – has begun for pre-schoolers and students in the Czech capital and other parts of the country including Cheb, Karlovy Vary, Jindřichův Hradec and Přerov. The cycle continues throughout the country until March 16, with different areas alternating. With Spring-like weather, many families are expected to spend less time in mountain and ski areas than is usually the norm: zoos, aquaparks and other centres expect a higher influx of visitors throughout the break.
Around 4,000 fans welcomed returned members of the Czech Winter Olympics team in Prague on Sunday. Among the athletes who appeared at an Olympic Park at the city’s Letná were snowboarder Eva Samková and speed skater Martina Sáblíková, who won the country’s two gold medals at Sochi. The Czech Republic achieved a medals tally of eight at the Winter Olympics, two more than the country’s previous record, with the majority coming in biathlon.
The head of the Czech men’s hockey team Alois Hadamczik has said in an interview for a commercial radio station he will be stepping down as head coach following the team’s finish outside the medals at this year’s Winter Olympics. The squad was eliminated in the quarter-finals by the US and only managed wins against Latvia and Slovakia in the tournament. Mr Hadamczik had a contract to lead the team until 2015, when Prague will host the Ice Hockey World Championship. The coach cited intense media pressure as one of the reasons for leaving. Under his lead the Czechs won two bronze and one silver medal in the World Championships and secured bronze at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
It should remain unseasonably mild in the coming days with fair weather and temperatures of up to 11 degrees Celsius expected.