The Czech EU presidency has expressed deep concern at the violent clashes that have taken place on the streets of the Thai capital Bangkok between the security service and army and anti-government protesters, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday. The statement called for protesters to refrain from further violence and called for a settlement to be sought though democratic dialogue within the constitution. One person was reported killed and at least 90 people during clashes which have culminated with an army and security forces clamp down on protesters calling for the overthrow of the current government. The demonstrators succeeded in cancelling a summit of South-East Asian countries in the coastal town of Pattaya on Saturday.
In football, around 500 police were on standby for the high risk top of the table derby clash between Slavia Prague and Sparta Prague on Monday. Slavia went into the home game with an 11 point lead over their historic rivals and the chance to put the title almost beyond doubt. Both teams have had problems scoring of late. That did not appear to have put off spectators with the early evening match sold out. The game ended in a 1:1 draw.
The leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Party, Jiří Paroubek, is mainly held responsible for the recent political crisis according to a poll released by the news site lidovky.cz on Monday. A poll by the Median agency found 44 percent of those questioned identified Mr Paroubek as being responsible for the crisis which toppled the centre-right coalition government just over two weeks ago. Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek was blamed by 41 percent. Around a third of those questioned also identified Mr Paroubek as the main gainer from the crisis. The government collapsed mid way through the Czech EU presidency after a surprise defeat in the no-confidence vote.
Slavia Prague attacker Jaroslav Bednář, one of the stars of the finals and domestic ice hockey extra league, admitted after the game against Karlovy Vary that he had played with a fractured leg. His chance of playing for the Czech Republic in the ice hockey World Championships in Switzerland is now threatened. The player said after the defeat that he would now rest up and see what happens. The world championships begin on April 24. Bednář is credited with 39 goals and 53 assists over the last season, an extra league record.
EU environment ministers start a two-day informal meeting in Prague on Tuesday. At the top of their agenda will be discussions over climate change and whether the EU 27 should be bound by common strategy or a more binding legal framework for action. The ministers will also be preparing for the EU’s negotiating stance at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. The conference will attempt to set worldwide targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases after 2012. Particular attention will be focused on what offer will be made by the new US administration of President Barack Obama.
Czech and Moravian Catholic bishops have criticised a new Czech translation of the bible. They say the translation is imprecise in some aspects and departs from accepted standpoints and liturgical terminology. In a statement, the church body, the bishops’ conference, added that the new version was missing seven books from the Old Testament and others were translated in abbreviated versions. Accompanying explanation for readers was also lacking, it added. The new version – described as a translation for the 21st century - is the first new version of the bible for 30 years and uses modern, contemporary Czech. The previous version, the Czech ecumenical translation dating from the 1970’s, still used archaic language.
In ice hockey, Karlovy Vary have won their first extra league title in the club’s 76 year old history. The west Bohemian club took the title with a 4: 3 home victory against Slavia Prague on Sunday night to give them a 4:2 lead in the series. Karlovy Vary came back after trailing 3:0 in the game. The victory is revenge for the defeat suffered by Karlovy Vary in the finals last year against the same opponent, Slavia Prague.
Around 150 people were evacuated from a local passenger train in Prague on Sunday after the locomotive caught fire. The fire broke out on České drahy’s Beroun–Prague service at around 16:30 CET. Passengers were evacuated from the train at Prague’s Radotín station and no one was injured, according to České drahy’s spokesperson, Ondřej Kubala. The train was not seriously damaged by the fire and a normal service was quickly resumed on the route, according to Mr Kubala.
The head of the opposition Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek has insisted that his party’s plan for a scrap premium, encouraging Czechs to get rid of their old cars and buy new ones, should be implemented by this autumn. In an interview with TV Prima on Sunday, Mr Paroubek reacted to comments made by outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek on Saturday, who said that a scrap premium should not be brought into effect this year. Mr Topolánek said that carmakers in this country were already having difficulty meeting demand, which has been stimulated primarily by scrap premiums brought in in neighbouring Germany and Slovakia, and that a Czech scrap subsidy should only be brought in when this demand drops off. But on Sunday, Mr Paroubek said that this was not part of the agreement that the Social Democrats had reached with the outgoing government coalition. The Social Democrats agreed to back a government anti-crisis stimulus package last week, on the condition that a scrap premium was included in the plan.
The leader of the opposition Social Democrats has reacted to comments published in this week’s edition of The Economist, accusing Czech politicians of ‘parochial myopia’ for topping the government halfway through the country’s EU presidency. Jiří Paroubek, whose Social Democrats instigated the no-confidence vote, said that the magazine was ignoring the ‘moral’ side of the issue. Speaking on TV Prima on Sunday, Mr Paroubek said that Mirek Topolánek’s outgoing cabinet was founded on a basis of ‘political corruption’ and that the prime minister and his government had attempted to interfere in the justice system and this country’s media. A caretaker government, headed by the non-partisan Jan Fischer, will take over the country’s EU presidency formally on May 9. In this week’s Charlemagne column, The Economist said that a Czech government of ‘technocrats’ would ‘leave the presidency politically dead’.
Collapse of Prague footbridge raises concerns regarding state of other bridges
Some like it hot: Czech Republic sees rise in number of household saunas
ANO leader Andrej Babiš appointed Czech prime minister
Czech wage rises continue apace, low earners seeing larger increases
Czech protesters run out of patience as Prague brutalist building faces demolition