The leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats says he does not intend to provide proof to back up his assertion that the Social Democrats had him followed on a recent trip to Italy. Mirek Topolánek accused his main rivals of dirty tricks after paparazzi-style photos of him meeting influential lobbyists and business people appeared in the Czech media. He told reporters on Sunday it was sufficient to be aware of a link between the centre-left Social Democrats and Karel Randák, a former intelligence chief who admits to having provided the press with the pictures. The Social Democrats, whose own Milan Urban also appeared in the photos, have denied being behind them.
Police say they are not planning to heed a call from local officials in Husinec on the outskirts of Prague to evict a group of Romanian Romanies who have set up a makeshift camp there. The Romanies, who are keeping a vigil for a relative who is seriously ill in a Prague hospital, were previously camped elsewhere in the city and are now on private land with the permission of its owner. However, they have no running water or other basic facilities and the mayor of Husinec, Marie Těthalová, called on the police to expel the group by lunchtime on Sunday. She said there was no way the municipality would pay for mobile toilets or drinking water. The Romanian Romanies arrived in Prague over a week ago after a teenage relative they regard as a prince almost drowned in a lake in central Bohemia.
The Prague Proms international music festival ends at the city’s Municipal House on Sunday with a “space night”. The closing concert features the Czech National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Libor Pešek performing Holst’s The Planets accompanied by a video projection. The fifth annual Prague Proms got underway on July 17 and has, according to organisers, been almost completely sold out.
Hotel operators say they are having their worst season in a decade because of the financial crisis. Most Czech hotels have seen takings per room fall by 20 to 35 percent, according to a report produced by the Association of Hotels and Restaurants for the Czech News Agency. Occupation rates have fallen by 18 percent while prices have been reduced by 11 percent. The fall in numbers is particularly marked in the case of German, British, Irish, Dutch, Japanese, American, Spanish and Brazilian visitors, say the authors of the study.
Meanwhile, the head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, has said the fact members of the Civic Democrats and Social Democrats were photographed meeting lobbyists in Italy shows that the parties are planning to divide influence over lucrative state companies by forming a coalition after general elections in October. Political analysts think that scenario is unlikely, the Czech News Agency reported. From 1998 to 2002 the Social Democrats and Civic Democrats worked together under a so-called “opposition agreement”.
The American film director and former member of the Monty Python comedy group Terry Gilliam has been presented with the Miroslav Ondříček Award at the first annual River Film Festival in the south Bohemian town of Písek. Miroslav Ondříček, a Czech cinematographer closely associated with Oscar-winning director Miloš Forman, personally presented the award for lifetime’s contribution to world cinema to Terry Gilliam, who is a frequent visitor to the Czech Republic. Mr Gilliam, who has made such films as Brazil and Twelve Monkeys, also appears in a trailer for River Film Festival, which runs until next Sunday.
A Czech Airlines plane flying from Cyprus to Prague on Saturday turned back after smoke was smelled on board. A spokesperson for CSA told the news website idnes.cz that passengers had not been in danger. She said the smoke had been caused by a short circuit in one of the aircraft’s computers; once the problem was rectified, passengers reboarded the plane at Larnaca airport on Sunday morning and it returned to the Czech Republic.
The leader of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolánek has called on the
Social Democrats and the party’s chairman Jiří Paroubek to stop using
the methods of the StB, referring to Czechoslovakia’s communist era
secret police. Mr Topolánek made the comments at a news conference in
Prague on Friday that saw his first reaction to newspaper photographs of
him meeting influential lobbyists and business people while on holiday in
Italy. He did not give any direct evidence for the claims and Mr Paroubek
later responded that unfounded accusations were also StB practice. The
Social Democrats deny being behind the pictures.
As for those he was photographed with in Italy, including a lobbyist for the power giant ČEZ, the Civic Democrats leader said such meetings were merely coincidental, as Tuscany was “the new Špindlerův Mlýn”, a reference to a popular Czech ski resort. Mr Topolánek said he did not know who owned the villa he had stayed at and refused to provide receipts to show he had paid for the recent holiday.
Paparazzi-style photographs that appeared this week were provided to the media by a former head of the Czech civilian intelligence agency Karel Randák, who said he wanted to show how things were done in this country. Mr Randák, who the Civic Democrats say is close to the Social Democrats, was fired in 2006 when Mirek Topolánek was prime minister.
The soccer player Patrik Berger appeared for Sparta Prague in a 0:0 draw against Bohemians 1905 on Friday, just weeks after he feared his career was over. Berger said if a knee injury he is suffering from had required surgery he would have had to quit the game. The left-footed midfielder, who is 35, has played for Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Aston Villa, though he has been out a lot in recent years with injury problems.