An enormous Christmas tree that will adorn Prague’s Old Town Square over the holiday season was cut down by the village of Rataje nad Sázavou in central Bohemia on Sunday. The 24-metre pine, believed to be about 80 years old, was felled by two-time Czech chainsaw champion Jiří Vorlíček, a native of Rataje nad Sázavou, in front of a crowd of around 200 people. After a complicated journey to the capital, the tree will be erected on Tuesday and ceremonially unveiled on Saturday.
The Social Democrats under Bohuslav Sobotka who is leading talks on trying to form a new government, will rely on deputy chairwoman Alena Gajdušková to lead a work group examining possible changes to the country’s Church restitution law. Other members will be named over the next few days. The Social Democrats would like to revise legislation overseeing the return of property and reparations to church groups. The party would also like to see historic property at Prague Castle to be excluded. But the party faces tough negotiations not only with potential coalition partners, the Christian Democrats, but also representatives of the Church who reached agreement with the former Nečas government.
The Civic Democrats in Prague and the Plzeň region elected new leaders on Thursday. Filip Humplík became the new head of the party’s Prague branch after he received more votes from party delegates than former environment minister Tomáš Chalupa. The previous Civic Democrat leader in Prague, Bohuslav Svoboda, has been nominated for the national party leadership. In the Plzeň region, former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil was re-elected to head the Civic Democrats there for another two years.
Prague’s Municipal Court sentenced a 59-year-old man (charged with killing his ex-wife using methanol he poured into a bottle of vodka) to 11 years in prison on Friday. Although the couple were divorced, they lived in the same home. The suspect claimed he never intended to hurt anyone but had mixed in the methanol out of curiosity. The prosecution maintained he committed the murder, which took place in March, hoping it would be linked to methanol poisoning which claimed more than 40 lives in the Czech Republic last year. The suspect has appealed the decision.
The opening of Prague’s Blanka Tunnel complex, may not take place next April as previously planned. Final stages of the project hit a roadblock on Wednesday when the firm overseeing construction said it needed money it was owed before continuing. City Hall responded with a revelation of its own: that the contract for the massive project was never valid.
Police shot an 18-year-old who was attacking staff and customers at a food stand at Prague’s Main Train Station at around 6 PM on Tuesday. A spokesperson said officers had shot the young man, who appeared to be intoxicated, in the hand and stomach after he ignored orders to desist. He later received treatment from rescue services, as did a kiosk employee.
Prague City Council has approved a change in the city zoning scheme, which would allow for the construction of a tram line connecting Vinohradská street with Wenceslas square and the city’s main train station. The plan to create such a tram line awaits a lengthy approval process. The City Assembly as well as Prague 1 have criticized a previous plan for the return of a tram line going down Wenceslas Square. Originally, a tram line went all the way down from the National Museum to the bottom of the square and then along the Na Příkopě street.
For six years during the Second World War, Prague was the capital of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, established by the Nazis in parts of the former Czechoslovakia. A new book entitled A Guide Through Prague Under the Protectorate now offers a detailed look at the map of the capital during those dark times. If you ever wondered where the paratroopers spent their last night before they assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, where Czech resistance fighters secretly met, or where Nazi top officials lived during the war, the book has all the
Czech Airlines has announced it will renew direct flights from Prague to Bratislava as of December 2013. The airline is planning three flights a week in the winter months and double that number in the summer season. Direct flights between the Czech and Slovak capitals were curtailed in 2011 for financial reasons. The price of a return ticket for the hour-long flight will be close to 2,000 crowns.
Deans of five Prague universities have called for a major change in financing for scientific research in higher education institutions in the Czech capital, at a joint press conference on Wednesday. If overall financing for sciences and access to EU funding for Prague universities does not improve, the deans warned that institutions will soon not be able to meet European standards of education and research. The access to EU funding for Prague universities has been limited by law. As a result, funding for research and innovation in other regions has been steadily growing, while in Prague it has stagnated. The situation will most likely not change in the next three years according to current government plans.
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