The government will probably raise retirement pensions in a response to high inflation, deputy Finance Minister Edvard Janota told Czech TV on Sunday. Retirement, disability and survivorship pensions in the Czech Republic are raised each year on January 1; this year they were increased by 3.9 percent, or 11 billion crowns. Mr Janota said the government will consider an extraordinary increase of the pensions by another five billion crowns, or more than 282 million US dollars.
After lawmakers failed to elect a new head of state in the first presidential election on Saturday, the next ballot will take place on Friday, February 15. The date was agreed on by the leaders of the five political parties represented in Parliament and the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, Miloslav Vlček, who presides over joint sessions of the lower house and the Senate. Both the incumbent Václav Klaus, who gained 139 votes in the final election on Saturday, falling just one vote short of re-election, and challenger Jan Švejnar, have said they will stay in the running.
The Czech Republic has defeated Belgium 3:2 in the first round of the Davis Cup in tennis and advances to the quarterfinals. In the first two matches in Ostrava on Friday, both Tomáš Berdych and Radek Štěpánek beat Kristof Vliegen and Steve Darcis, respectively, in three sets. The two Czechs then on Saturday defeated the Belgian players Rochus and Vliegen in the double, securing the Czech victory in the event. On Sunday, the Czechs lost both of the remaining single games to the Belgians but that had no effect on the Czech triumph. In the Davis Cup quarterfinals to be held in early April, the Czech team will travel to Russia.
About 120 far-right radicals marched in Krnov, Silesia, on Saturday, in memory of two skinheads who died five years ago in a fire. The event, which saw the radicals march with lit torches, was organized by Národní odpor, or National Resistance, which the authorities consider a neo-Nazi umbrella group. A spokesperson for the Krnov police said on Saturday that no incidents took place during the march.
The film ‘Little Girl Blue’ by Alice Nellis won ten nominations for the Český lev movie awards on Saturday. The film, known as ‘Tajnosti’ in Czech, was nominated for the best picture, best director, best screenplay, best cinematography, best actor, best actress, best supporting actress, best film editing, best musical score and best sound editing, covering 10 out of 12 categories of the Český lev film awards. ‘Little Girl Blue’ also won the Critics Award for 2007 while another successful Czech movie made last year, Empties, or Vratné láhve, won 9 nominations. The Český lev film awards for 2007 will be presented on March 1.
A poultry farm building near Jihlava, western Moravia, caught fire on early Sunday morning killing around 9,500 chicken. No persons were injured in the accident which was probably caused by faulty electrical wiring. The damage inflicted by the fire is estimated at 350,000 crowns, or nearly 20,000 US dollars.
MEP Bernd Posselt was elected on Sunday the leader of Sudenten Germans – former German-speaking citizens of Czechoslovakia who were expelled from the country after WWII. Mr Posselt, who is 51, said he would focus on improving the relations between the Sudeten Germans and Czechs; he also wants to speed up the establishment of a Sudeten German museum in Munich. The Sudeten German community consists of roughly 200,000 Germans with Bohemian and Moravian roots.
The communists have revealed their own candidates for the second presidential ballot. The proposed presidential hopefuls include ombudsman Otakar Motejl, former dissident and foreign minister Jiří Dienstbier, the chairman of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychteský, MEP Jana Bobošíková and the head of the Czech Academy of Sciences Václav Pačes. The head of the Communist Party Vojtěch Filip said on Sunday that these public figures have sufficient public support and stand a good chance of being elected. The nomination comes as a setback for the Greens and the opposition Social Democrats who were hoping to win the support of the communist lawmakers for their own presidential candidate, Jan Švejnar.
Thieves stole laptops, cameras and 1,200 euros in cash belonging to the officials of the International Ski Federation and the German ARD TV crew from a hotel in Liberec, North Bohemia, during a World Cup event in ski-jumping on Sunday. A police spokesperson said the damage was worth several hundred thousand crowns. The management of the four-star Zlatý lev hotel in Liberec, where the incident happened, said they would compensate their guests for the stolen property.
The police have shelved the case of Josef Vondruška, a communist MP who worked as a prison guard in the 1970s and 1980s. Several former political prisoners had accused Mr Vondruška of abuse of power while working in a prison in Minkovice, North Bohemia. Last year, the Chamber of Deputies stripped Mr Vondruška of his immunity so that he could face criminal charges. While the communist MP rejects all accusations, Vladimír Hučín, who claims he was repeatedly beaten by Mr Vondruška, said he would appeal the decision of the police.