Top politicians and public figures paid their final respects on Monday to the first Czech ombudsman, former justice minister and president of the Supreme Court, Otakar Motejl, who died at the age of 77 last week. Czech president Václav Klaus and his Slovak counterpart, Ivan Gašparovic, were amongst those who attended the funeral service at a Prague theatre where Mr. Motejl liked to go. A black flag flew at the lower house of parliament in tribute. Mr. Motejl began his legal career in the mid 1950’s going on to represent victims of show trials and later dissidents against the hard line Communist regime. As ombudsman, he was an outspoken defender of human rights, especially those of minorities, such as the Roma.
The Bohemian and Moravian Football Association has formally submitted an offer to host the European under-21 championships in 2013. The Czech bid lines up against competing offers from England, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Ireland and Wales. European football’s governing body, UEFA, will make its choice of country in December at a meeting of its operating committee in Prague. The Czech association will now convene a working group to select four stadiums that could host the championships. The country already meets one basic demand for hosting the event with two Prague grounds having capacity of more than 20,000.
The Czech Ministry of Transport has put back its target date for completing a basic network of motorways and highways in the country because of uncertainty over the financial resources that will be forthcoming. The ministry announced on Monday that the completion of the network could not be envisaged before 2025, five years later than the originally planned date of 2020. Under current plans around 500 billion crowns would be needed by 2020 to complete planned motorways but only a fifth of that has been allocated so far. Minister Gustav Slamečka suggested the issuing of special bonds for transport infrastructure might be a one way of meeting the financing gap.
A separate pre-election poll by the SC&C and STEM agencies of Prague voting intentions showed right-leaning parties the clear favourites. The Civic Democrats came in first with support from 24.5 percent followed by TOP 09 on 21.5 percent. The Social Democrats came third with 17.0 percent, Public Affairs scored 13.5 percent and the Communists 6.0 percent. Of those questioned, 55 percent said they were certain to vote and 24 percent said they were likely to but 20 percent said they were unlikely or definitely would not cast their ballots. Only half of those questioned said they were resolutely decided on which party to back.
The Czech government has offered 800 soldiers to help with the clean-up
caused by floods and high winds across the east of the country. The offer
followed an emergency meeting of the cabinet called to discuss crisis
measures on Monday. One of the worst hit regions, the Moravia-Silesia
region, made an immediate demand for 500 soldiers to help it recover from
the damage caused by ongoing flooding.
The Moravia-Silesia region earlier declared a state of alert with special flood committees meeting in three of the worst affect towns and cities: Karviná, Český Těšín and Třinec. Parts of Karviná, Ostrava and Valašké Meziříčí have been evacuated with road and rail services cut across the region. Authorities said on Monday afternoon that safety levels at two smaller reservoirs in Moravia-Silesia had been passed and water flows could no longer be regulated.
The floods have claimed one victim, a 69-year-old woman who drowned in the garden of her home in Třinec on Sunday after the River Olše burst its banks. With many rivers at danger levels, the forecast is for rain to continue until Tuesday evening. Power companies have also declared an emergency situation in the Moravia-Silesia and Zlín regions after falling power lines left around 10,000 people without electricity.
In ice hockey, the Czech team faces a decisive match against Latvia on Monday evening to keep alive their change of progressing in the World Championships. Saturday’s 2:3 defeat against Switzerland left the team in fourth place in group F with three points and the Czechs needing a win to preserve their hopes of progressing to the quarter finals. Czech media warned ahead of the game that the squad was on the verge of making history by becoming the first in the world championships to drop out before the quarter finals.
Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek has relaxed his media boycott saying that he will resume contract with a series of daily newspapers but will still not speak to two weeklies. Mr. Paroubek announced his pre-election boycott of the dailies Lidové noviny, Hospodářské noviny and Dnes together with the weeklies Respekt and Reflex a week and a half ago. He blamed them for stirring up hate against the party following an assault on top Social Democrat Bohuslav Sobotka. An interview with Lidové noviny run on Monday signalled a change in his stance towards newspapers, although Mr. Paroubek added that he would continue to monitor their coverage. But he said he would continue to shun and refuse to answer questions from the weeklies.
A survey by the STEM polling agency has suggested that left-wing parties could win an outright majority at elections to the lower house at the end of the month. The poll released on Monday says the Social Democrats could win 75 seats with the Communists gaining 28. This would give them a thin three seat majority in the 200-seat lower house. The main centre-right party, the Civic Democrats, is seen winning 55 seats in the vote on May 28 and 29. The Social Democrats are given 27 percent of preferences, the Civic Democrats 18.7, the Communists 11.8, TOP 09 9.2 and Public Affairs 8.9. The Christian Democrats and Greens are both seen failing to cross the five percent barrier for representation with 3.9 percent and 3.1 percent respectively.
A second person has died following an accident when a light plane crashed into a forest in southern Bohemia. The pilot of the Cessna died on Monday in hospital where she had been taken after sustaining serious injuries. The crash last Thursday had already killed an older passenger who was in her eighties. Fog is suspected to have contributed to the accident. Police and accident experts are still investigating the cause.
China is interested in buying the Czech Republic’s pavilion at the Expo 2010 fair in Shanghai. The general commissioner in charge of Czech participation in the world exhibition, Pavel Stehlík, told journalists that talks had been launched about a sale. The Chinese apparently plan to move the complex to a town outside Shanghai. So far the Czech pavilion has been a great success with around 450,000 visits, one in five people who have been to the Expo since it opened its doors two weeks ago. Spokesman Jiří Potužník said other countries had expressed envy of the Czech Republic’s high attendance figures.
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