The civic association Friends of Miloš Zeman held its constituent
assembly at Prague’s Congress Centre on Saturday. Around 500 supporters
of the former Social Democrat leader and prime minister turned out for the
meeting. Mr Zeman, who is 64, insists he has no desire to seek political
office again. However, members of his new organisation have said they will
back him to become president, a post he failed to win in 2003.
Elsewhere, the current leadership of Mr Zeman’s former party the Social Democrats held a rally attended by around 4,000 supporters on Říp mountain in central Bohemia on Saturday. The peak is associated with Czech history and legends and is climbed by various groups every year.
In a poll released just a fortnight before regional elections, 48 percent of respondents said they would like to see fundamental changes in regional leadership. Nearly two thirds of those surveyed in the STEM poll said their attitude to politics at the national level would influence their vote in regional elections on October 17 and 18. The largest party in the coalition government, the Civic Democrats, hold 12 of the country’s 13 regional governorships. The Czech Republic introduced the current system of regional administration in the year 2000.
The Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has reached the final of the Japan
Open in Tokyo. Berdych, seeded ninth in the tournament, beat second seed
Andy Roddick of the United States 6-7 7-5 7-6 to set up a clash with the
Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro on Sunday. It is the 23-year-old Czech’s
second final on the ATP tour this year.
Meanwhile, Radek Štěpánek was defeated in the semi-finals of the Metz Open in France on Saturday. The Czech lost 3-6 4-6 to Dmitry Tursunov of Russia.
A government appointed commission on energy policy envisages the life of the Czech Republic’s two nuclear power plants being extended for several decades, the website ekonom.cz reported. The recommendation is included in the commission’s final report, which has been posted on the internet to allow for opposing arguments to be submitted. The commission, led by renowned scientist Václav Pačes, says if their lives are extended, the Temelín nuclear station could serve until 2062 and the Dukovany plant until 2045.
The first NHL ice hockey game ever held in the Czech Republic began at 6 pm on Saturday at Prague’s O2 Arena. Tampa Bay Lightning faced New York Rangers in the first of two matches, with the second being held on Sunday. The cheapest tickets were priced at CZK 1,990 (USD 111). NHL officials decided to hold the the first games of the 2008-2009 season in Prague and the Swedish capital Stockholm in order to increase the international profile of the North American league.
The British rock group Primal Scream played at Prague’s Roxy club on Friday night. The band’s set drew heavily on their most recent album Beautiful Future, though it also featured a number of songs from earlier stages of their two-decade career. The Swiss group The Young Gods were also in action in Prague on Friday, performing the first of two acoustic shows at the city’s Akropolis.
A new opinion poll suggests two thirds of Czechs are against the planned construction of a United States radar base in central Bohemia. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a poll carried out by the CVVM agency in September said they were opposed to the radar, a figure in line with a number of earlier surveys on the issue. The Czech Republic has reached agreement with the US on the base, with the Czech Parliament due to vote on the matter later this year.
The number of people from other European Union states working in the Czech Republic is double the number of Czechs working elsewhere in the EU, the Czech labour minister, Petr Nečas, told reporters. He said this meant it was therefore unnecessary for Germany and Austria to bar workers from the Czech Republic and other new EU members until the end of a transition period in 2011. At the end of last year, 144,000 citizens of other EU states were employed in the Czech Republic, compared to 71,000 Czechs working elsewhere in the union. Over 100,000 of the former category were from Slovakia, though Mr Nečas said 40,000 other EU citizens represented a significant figure.
Romany residents reacted angrily to a so-called patrol by a nationalist group in Litvínov, north Bohemia on Saturday. Around 70 people armed with sticks, golf clubs and other improvised weapons spat and swore at members of the little-known nationalist organisation the Workers Party, who were attempting to carry out what they called a monitoring patrol of the housing estate where the Romanies live. The local police were on the scene and the two sides did not come to blows. The Litvínov authorities have expressed opposition to such “patrols”; the town’s deputy mayor said the police had been given a video recording of Saturday’s incident, and called on them to take action against the dozen Workers Party members involved. The police barred the Workers Party from entering the housing estate in question for the rest of the weekend on public order grounds.
The Czech folk singer Jaromír Nohavica began a tour of English speaking countries with a show in London on Friday night. Around 800 people attended the concert at the Islington Academy; the number of Slovaks in the audience equalled the number of Czechs, while there were also many Poles in the crowd. The month-long On the Road 2008 tour will also take Nohavica to Ireland, Canada and the United States.