Who better to show us around “his Prague” than US author and journalist Mark Baker? After all, the seasoned travel writer has penned a number of guidebooks to the city since moving here at the very start of the 1990s. Our short tour begins in the district that Baker has called home in recent years, Bubeneč, a quiet, leafy part of Prague 6.
Miloš Zeman has improved the image of the Czech Republic since being appointed president on March 8 last year, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said on the eve of the former’s first anniversary in office. While his predecessor Václav Klaus was a Eurosceptic, Mr. Zeman is avowedly pro-European and returned the EU flag to Prague Castle after his appointment. Mr. Sobotka said he had noticed the Czech Republic had a better image while on foreign trips.
Former UK prime minister Tony Blair is set to visit Czech President Miloš Zeman at his Lány residence near Prague on Saturday evening. Mr. Blair will sign a memorial book at the chateau before a meeting with the head of state. The two left wingers’ prime ministerial terms overlapped: Mr. Blair led a New Labour government in Great Britain from 1997 to 2007, while Mr. Zeman helmed a Social Democrats government from 1998 to 2002.
The widow of architect Jan Kaplický has discussed the building of one of his designs with the mayor of Prague 8, Lidovky.cz reported. The large, futuristic structure, originally conceived as a new National Library building to stand on Letná Plain and nicknamed the Blob, could be built on the city’s Rohanský Island, under a proposal from Culture Minister Daniel Herman backed by a wealthy developer. After a meeting with Prague 8 mayor Jiří Janků, Eliška Kaplický said she liked the idea of the project being realised on Rohanský Island, in part because it is by Karlín, an area that has seen a lot of new architecture in recent years.
One time fugitive businessman Tomáš Pitr has had the remainder of his four year jail sentence overturned by a Prague 6 district court on Thursday. The court ruled that Pitr’s outstanding two year prison sentence be suspended on condition that he does not break the law over the next four years. Pitr was sentenced to five years for tax evasion in June 2013 with the sentence cut later by one year following an appeal. He fled the Czech Republic following an earlier sentence but was eventually apprehended in Switzerland in 2010. Pitr was linked to a series of major share and tax evasion cases over the last decades after making his first money in the early 1990’s from the resale of Tuzex duty free rum.
Prague City Hall on Wednesday launched a massive blackout exercise simulating a 72-hour long power outage, the authorities said. The police, fire fighters and other parts of the city’s emergency response systems are testing Prague’s preparedness for similar situations. The exercise, which will not affect life in the city, will end at 6 PM on Friday; institutions such as government offices and foreign embassies which do not fall under the authority of the capital are not included in the simulation.
Hundreds of Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic held a mass for the victims of the recent killings in their country at the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Sunday. The crowd carried signs reading Stop Yanukovych and heard speeches condemning the actions of his now ousted government. Also on Sunday a concert in support of Ukraine was held on the Prague’s Náměstí Republiky; the event was free but attendees could send financial support by SMS to the NGO People in Need, which is organising aid for the strife-torn state.
There will be 11 kiosks selling fast food, flowers and newspapers on Prague’s Wenceslas Square from next year, a city councilor told the Czech News Agency. There are currently seven on the city’s main thoroughfare, down from 23 in 2012, when Prague abrogated contracts with several stall holders; many are now standing empty. The issue of kiosks on Wenceslas Square has been the subject of some controversy, with objections from preservations leading to the rejection of new designs that were due to go up last year.
Developers expect the growth of Prague’s residential market to continue this year, according to an analysis by the CEEC Research agency. The offer of new residential real estate in the capital is expected to increase by 7.4 percent in 2014 while demand should grow by 3.6 percent, the head of the research agency said. However, the consultancy KPMG said the survey reflects the developers’ optimistic expectations; while not unrealistic, the analysis reflects a situation when a combination of low interest rates and an expected general economic recovery create favourable conditions for residential development.
A group of Ukrainian nationals gathered outside Prague Castle on Thursday to demonstrate against President Yanukovych as the death toll in their country mounted. There were calls for Yanukovych’s resignation as demonstrators held up banners reading ”How many more people must die?” Another demonstration is scheduled to take place on Prague’s Wenceslas Square later on Thursday. Meanwhile Czech politicians across the political spectrum have expressed grave concern over the latest developments calling for concerted action on the part of the international community to stop the violence in Ukraine.
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