The north-western Czech border town of Cheb has signed a deal with a German NGO for it to create a cemetery housing German soldiers who died during WWII. Around 4000 soldiers could ultimately be buried at the site – the remains of the German soldiers have been exhumed across the country as part of an initiative paid for by the NGO. It has also pledged to pay 24.6 million crowns to help repair the current cemetery at Cheb. The deal is seen as helping to strengthen ties between Germany and the Czech Republic, for whom the issue of WWII remains a sore point.
The head of the international section of the Czech Green Party Jiří Čáslavka has added fuel to the fire with regards to questions about party leader Martin Bursík’s style of leadership. In an open letter to Mr Bursík, Mr Čáslavka accused the Green party leader of seeking to remain in the governing coalition at all costs and at the expense of the party. He also stated his belief that Mr Bursík was labeling as enemies those within his party that have a different view from his own. The comments represent an escalation of infighting within the party, which remains divided over the acceptance of the proposed US radar base, and was also shaken earlier this year by the re-election of President Klaus, whom the party strongly opposed.
The Czech Advertising Standard’s Authority has ruled that an advert for the liquor Fernet is unethical because it features actors who are younger than 25. Under the voluntary rules, alcohol must not be promoted by those who are or who look younger than 25. The Authority has no teeth to enforce its rulings, but it is expected that the advert will be withdrawn.
Newly released police figures have revealed that the country has just experienced one of its worst weeks for traffic accidents for some time. The figures reveal more than 3000 accidents, 506 injuries and 25 fatalities occurred last week. Estimated financial costs are about 153 million crowns. Last Tuesday proved to be a peak for fatalities with eight people killed in a single day. The accidents are in part attributed to wet weather, with more consistently prevalent factors such as speeding and alcohol also playing a role. The country is known for its relatively high levels of traffic accidents and fatalities compared to the EU average.
A UNESCO-listed Baroque Trinity column in the Czech city of Olomouc has been damaged by an unknown perpetrator, according to police. The perpetrator is also accused of stealing artefacts worth 100,000 crowns from the site. The Baroque Column of the Holy Trinity represents the largest assemblage of Baroque statuary in a single sculpture in all of Central Europe.
A new poll by the Median agency suggests that 12.8% of Czechs have tried illegal drugs. The figures also revealed that men tended to be more inclined towards this activity with 16.1% of men to 10.2% of women revealing drug use. In terms of age groups, of 20-29 year-olds, 20.1% said “yes”, while 18.6 of 12-18 year-olds answered “yes”.
The Interior Ministry has disseminated proposed legislation to football clubs around the country that would enable them to access a central database of Czech football hooligans. The government is hoping that by the next football season, which begins in August, the proposed database will be up and running. The move represents attempts by the government to address hooliganism in the country in which additional security cameras and other security measures at stadiums are also being considered.
High petrol prices in the Czech Republic are leading to increased speculation that bus operators will increase their fares. ČSAD, one of the leading operators in the country has so far played down such concerns insisting that it will continue to monitor the situation. Other companies such as Student Agency have openly speculated about possible fare rises.
Artists gathered at Prague’s National Theatre on Sunday to stage a seven-hour concert in protest against the way the arts are funded in the Czech capital. The concert kicks off a series of cultural events called ‘Dny neklidu’ (‘Days of Unrest’), which will include dance, theatre, music and visual art. Organisers of the ‘Days of Unrest’ are unhappy with the way that Prague Town Hall administers its budget for culture, in particular its new system of grants for theatres. Over 20,000 people have signed a petition urging the council to change the current funding system. The councilor responsible for the funding of the arts, Milan Richter, has said that he will look into changing the current system.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra has said that he expects the Czech parliament to make its final decision on the stationing of a US radar base on Czech soil by August. In an interview for state broadcaster Czech Television on Sunday, Mr Vondra said that he expected both American and Czech delegates to have signed the radar agreement and the accompanying SOFA (Status of Forces) agreement by late July. Voices from within the government coalition have called on the government not to put its name to anything before this November’s American presidential elections, which they say, could have a major impact on US foreign policy. On Sunday, Mr Vondra responded to these calls by saying that it was best to sign now – as a new US administration could want the Czechs to pay in part for the radar and its upkeep.