A growing number of visitors to Prague are using the Segways two-wheelers to get around the city’s historic centre. But their increased presence in pedestrian areas has long been annoying local inhabitants concerned about risks of accidents on the busy sidewalks. Local authorities in central Prague have been calling for legislation that would push Segways onto the roads. However, the Czech Transport Ministry is instead considering officially classifying Segways as pedestrians. I discussed the issue with the ministry’s spokesman Tomáš Neřold.
Prague councillors have cancelled a controversial decision to demolish a building on the corner of Wenceslas Square and Opletalová St. City Hall has returned the matter to the Prague 1 construction authority, which it said was responsible for shortcomings in its original decision to tear down the building. In recent months there had been protests against a plan to demolish the building and replace it with a modern office block.
Prague’s multi-purpose Opencard scheme which was to provide users with an efficient means of paying for public transport, parking, and serve as a library card has been dogged by problems from the outset. Now it threatens to turn into a nightmare for over one million users. The card’s days are numbered and Prague City Hall has failed to secure continued licencing until a new system is up and running.
Senators will meet with officials from the Prague Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and a number of its vocal critics on Tuesday ahead of selecting a new board. Relations in the institute have been strained since the removal of the institute’s former director, now Culture Minister Daniel Herman, which made the entire board quit in a show of solidarity. The institute has been criticized for neglecting the process of digitalizing former communist secret police files. Earlier this year it left the Platform of European Memory and Conscience over a dispute about whether or not it employs former communist officials.
A bomb placed under the car of a Russian speaking driver exploded in Prague’s Nusle district on Monday night. The explosion was triggered when the driver started the car, but it only damaged part of the vehicle and the driver escaped unhurt. Bomb experts were called to the scene and police are searching for a possible motif.
Prior to leaving office next month, the Slovak president, Ivan Gašparovič, has paid a final visit to his Czech counterpart, Miloš Zeman in Prague. On Tuesday Mr. Gašparovič presented Mr. Zeman with his country’s highest honour, the Order of the White Double Cross. Having invited his guest to a hunt at his Lány residence, the Czech head of state gave Mr. Gašparovič hunting boots and binoculars. Mr. Zeman said it was a pity his counterpart was departing and that he had been a friend to the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic was hit by severe storms on Tuesday, with heavy rain and hail flooding cellars and roads. In Prague fire officers were called out to deal with flooding at around two dozen spots, including the basement of the National Library, the vestibule of Můstek metro station and a theatre. More heavy storms are forecast for Wednesday.
The Prague art gallery Mánes is set to reopen after a two-year renovation on Wednesday with an exhibition of works by caricaturist and illustrator Ivan Steiger. Restaurant and office spaces at Mánes are still awaiting building approval, with its operators saying they would like to open the entire complex to the public in the summer. The Functionalist structure hosted the 80th birthday party of President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in 1930, the year it opened with a show looking back at a century of Czech art.
The popular Czech rock band Lucie have returned to the stage after a 10-year gap. The group played the first show of a reunion tour in front of 6,500 fans in the Slovak city of Košice on Monday night. Lucie – who were one of the country’s most popular bands in the 1990s – have sold over 100,000 tickets for the comeback tour. Two additional shows have been organised in Prague due to high demand.
The Czech Republic has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine consumption in Europe, according to a study carried out for the journal Addiction and published on Tuesday. Prague’s waste water showed the strongest traces of methamphetamine in a comparison involving 42 European cities. Another Czech city, České Budějovice, placed second in the study. Prague was ranked 14th in terms of the amount of THC, which is found in cannabis, in its waste water, and 15th with regard to traces of ecstasy. Methamphetamine is known locally in the Czech Republic as pervitin.