Czech Television has announced that the Czech Republic will be withdrawing from the Eurovision Song Contest. According to program director Kateřina Fričová, who made the announcement for the website iHNed.cz, the withdrawal is based on a lack of interest among viewers. This comes despite the Eurovision Song Contest being one of the most popular televised events in the world, with an estimated 100 to 600 million viewers around the world. The Czech Republic has participated in the television contest for the past three years, putting forward the performers Kabat, Tereza Kerndlová, and Gipsy.cz.
Police in the South Bohemian town of Třeboň are searching for a mouflon sheep that they believe has been stolen. The animal’s owner estimates its value as a trophy at 150,000 crowns. That however is not the only recent animal theft. In an entirely separate incident, the zoo in the town of Plžeň reported Wednesday that four rare monkeys, some of them worth 200.000 each, had been stolen over the night. The monkeys are equipped with chips making it impossible to sell them on the official market in the EU.
MP Miroslav Grebeníček, the former chairman of the Communist Party, has threatened to sue the makers of an upcoming film if his late father, who is portrayed in the film, is shown in a negative light. The MP’s father, Alois Grebeníček, was an investigator for the former regime’s secret police, the StB, and the film centres on the organisation’s practices of interrogation, which included torture. Pavel Paleček, the producer of the film Klíček, however says that he is not afraid of a lawsuit and that he would welcome the opportunity to for the courts to deal with the Grebeníčeks’ past. Mr Grebeníček Sr. died in 2003 while standing trial on charges of torture.
Criminologists believe have cleared up a case involving the body of a 46-year-old former primary school teacher found recently near the city of Brno. South Moravian police say they the man was a member of a gang engaged in robbing ATM machines, and that he was murdered by a former student who was also involved in the crimes and who is now under arrest.
The Czech daily Lidové noviny reports that the first vaccine against the A-H1N1 “swine flu” virus will be made in the Czech Republic by the US pharmaceutical company Baxter, which has a plant in the country. With demand for a vaccine soaring, the Baxter plant has reportedly switched to 24-hour-a-day, exclusive production. The Czech Republic also intends to buy enough of the vaccine for one-fourth of the population.
Members of the Social Democratic Party have put forward a manifesto calling for change in the party’s direction, the daily Právo has reported. The so-called Vyšehrad Proclamation, signed by Social Democrats Karel Šplíchal and Erazim Kohák among others, protests what the signatories refer to as excessive focus in the party on marketing and trading in top slots on the party’s ballot for early elections this autumn. Party leader Jíři Paroubek was under fire recently for pushing popular public figures to the top of the party’s lists of candidates. The Social Democrats were defeated by their main rivals the Civic Democratic Party in elections to the European Parliament in June.
Temperatures in the Czech Republic broke records around the country Thursday, with highs of up to 33 - 36° Celsius. In the South Moravian town of České Budějovice an 80-year record fell, while the Prague meteorological station at Clementinum 34.1° marked the hottest July 23rd since the station began keeping records in 1775. Meanwhile, Prague rescue services were called out to treat some 40 cases of heat-related problems in the morning hours alone, 70% more often than on standard days.