Police statistics have revealed that 11 people lost their lives in tragic accidents on Czech roads during the first November weekend. Saturday saw a number of deaths, including that of an 18-year-old driver who had received his permit only one month earlier. Police say that speeding was a factor in the crash; three fellow passengers were injured, one of them seriously. Sunday saw a head-on collision between two cars near Jindřichův Hradec, killing two people. Two motorcyclists were killed on Sunday afternoon when they collided head-on with a car in the area of Uherské Hradiště. Ahead of the weekend police had warned for drivers on Czech roads to be especially diligent due to poor weather conditions, including fog in places.
A small tunnel below Vyšehrad in Prague used by trams and some 20,000 motorists daily will be closed for four weeks, with traffic re-routed until the end of November. Repairs on local tram track are the reason: a stretch of track leading 300 metres along Podolí and the Vltava river, as well as through the tunnel, was last repaired 26 years ago, the Prague Transport Authority has said. Trams into the centre will be re-routed through Albertov.
In related news, the prime minister said on a Sunday TV interview programme that there would be changes to his cabinet following the defeat of the coalition parties in the recent regional and Senate elections. But he declined to confirm any names yet. There has been speculation those affected could include the embattled Health Minister, Tomáš Julínek, blamed by some within the Civic Democratic Party for failing to reassure the public of the need for healthcare fees at the doctor’s, a key issue in the elections. Other names mentioned in the media in connection with a possible cabinet reshuffle include Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovič and Culture Minister Václav Jehlička.
Czech hockey centre forward Tomáš Plekanec had his best game of the NHL season so far with the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, notching up two goals and two assists to help his team sink the New York Islanders. The Habs won the game by a score of 5:4. Prior to the game, Plekanec had racked up just three points in nine matches.
The Czech civic association eStat.cz has awarded its annual anti-bureaucracy prize to the Irish people, reportedly for the decision in a referendum to vote against the EU’s Lisbon Treaty this year. The prize is to be awarded to Declan Ganley, the head of an organisation which played a key role in the Irish “No” vote, in Prague on Wednesday. eStat, which has close ties to the Civic Democratic Party, began its award three years ago. The first recipient was President - and Civic Democratic Party founder - Václav Klaus.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has confirmed his decision to defend his position as Civic Democratic Party leader at the party’s December congress. He revealed the news during a special briefing on Sunday, ending speculation he might give up the post over increasing opposition within his own party. Questions over Mr Topolánek’s political future came to the fore since his party’s poor showing in regional and Senate elections in October. So far, only one other candidate, deputy leader Pavel Bém, has officially announced he will also be running. Mr Bém recently compared his party to a ship drawing water, badly in need of a new “captain”.
Czech star football goalkeeper Petr Čech, who recently recorded his 100th clean sheet for his club Chelsea, has expressed the hope of challenging the club’s record for most clean sheets over the next five years. The record for the club – 205 – is held by the legendary goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, nicknamed “The Cat” in the 1960s and ‘70s for his quick reflexes. Petr Čech needed 180 games with Chelsea to rack up 100 goalless games.
The Czech weekly Respekt has said it will not apologise for a recent article alleging that Czech born-writer Milan Kundera informed on a man spying for the West in Communist Czechoslovakia. A statement was released on Friday by the weekly’s editor-in-chief. The story, published in mid-October, centred on a Czech historian’s uncovering of a police document dating back to 1950. In the case, the man Mr Kundera allegedly informed on spent 14 years in prison. The author of such novels as The Unbearable Lightness of Being has denied the allegation and has threatened to sue. A number of observers have come out against the article. The Czech Academy of Sciences, for example, criticised the manner of the story’s publication, suggesting that the methods used showed what it called “a lack of critical scientific thinking”.
Prague’s Botanical Garden in Troje celebrated Halloween on Friday with events for visitors and visitors’ children. Attendees were given the opportunity to carve their own pumpkins. A spoon, knife, and mask were among the required implements. Disguises worn included costumes of animals, witches and knights. According to the Botanical Garden's organisers, Halloween is their busiest day of the year, when the gardens see an average of around 2,000 visitors.
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