Data from the Ministry of Finance included in the closing account for 2009 shows that last year’s cancelled parliamentary elections cost the state 114.5 million crowns. 553 million had originally been earmarked for elections in 2009, with elections to the European Parliament having taken place in the spring. That amount was nearly doubled after politicians agreed on early elections. After the Constitutional Court found that early elections were unconstitutional, the state had to repay the expenses with millions of grants to regions, ministries and institutions. This year’s elections to parliament are expected to cost in excess of one billion crowns.
In other flood-related news, the Ministry of the Environment has announced that it will make 3.45 billion crowns available for anti-flood measures through the Environmental Operation Programme. The money, which communities must apply for by June 30, may be used for landslide prevention and monitoring programmes. The State Environmental Fund will also be providing loans for the repair of sewage and water treatment systems. 100 million crowns are currently available for such repairs.
More than 260 people attended the first Great Gorilla Run in Prague for animal charity on Saturday. The runners set out from Prague Castle in gorilla masks and were accompanied by groups of drummers until reaching the destination, and banana prizes, at Old Town Square. Organisers say the event raised nearly 200,000 crowns, which will be put towards equipping a reservation in Cameroon. The Great Gorilla Run began in London in 2003, since which time a number of cities have begun to follow suit, including Amsterdam, San Francisco and Denver.
Construction materials being transported by helicopter high above Prague fell into the Vltava river on Friday near Čechův Bridge. Police say the fact that no one was injured by the falling beam is merely a coincidence, and they will determine the party responsible for the accident. The cargo itself was later retrieved by a faltboat. Construction helicopters follow the path of the river as a precaution against exactly such incidents, and this latest is the second in the last two years. In late 2008 a two-hundred-kilo container fell into the river between Charles Bridge and Střelecky Island, both of which are frequented by thousands of tourists daily. No one has yet been charged in either incident.
While river levels in Moravia continue to stabilise, meteorologists are forecasting heavy storms and hail for parts of the area. Rivers could rise in certain locations to the third-level emergency status. According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, the precipitation should not cause further flooding elsewhere than in cellars or lower-lying buildings. A storm during the night on Friday saw increased water levels in the regions of Šumperk and Jeseník, with the Branná river reaching the third-level. Roughly 30 landslides have occurred in other parts of Moravia as the water levels recede. Prime Minister Jan Fischer visited North Moravia on Saturday to inspect the damage.
The Czech Republic advanced to the final round of the World Ice Hockey Championship defeating Sweden 3:2 on Saturday. The third round of normal play ended 2:2 after Karel Rachůnek scored eight seconds prior to the whistle. Penalty shots then decided the game with goals from Lukáš Kašpar and Jan Marek. The Czech Republic will now face the winner of Saturday’s semi-final between Russia and Germany in the final round of the championship in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday.
Two young people were seriously injured on Sunday by a lightning strike near the north Bohemian town of Trutnov. One of the victims suffered major burns and was brought by rescuers to the burns centre of Prague’s Vinohrady Hospital by helicopter in a state of unconsciousness. The other victim of the accident was conscious and was taken to hospital in nearby Hradec Králové.
The new centre-right political party TOP 09 has spoken out against a rival campaign that suggests they would welcome a coalition with the Social Democratic Party. Referring to new posters put out by the Civic Democratic Party showing TOP 09 vice-chair Miroslav Kalousek shaking hands with the centre-left Social Democrat leader Jirí Paroubek, TOP 09’s Karel Schwarzenberg called a coalition between the parties unacceptable and guaranteed that as chairman he had the backing of the party to commit to that stance. In related news, Mr Paroubek told the daily Právo on Saturday that no cabinet or deputy ministerial position in a government of his party would be filled by any member of the Communist Party.
The Ministry of Finance has provided 55 million crowns for disaster relief in the three regions most affected by recent flooding in Moravia. 20 million will go to the regions of Moravia-Silesia and Zlín while another 15 million has been earmarked for the region of Olomouc. Officials said they expect the regions themselves to match the first round of financial aid provided by the federal government. Meanwhile, the Forum of Donors says that private donors have so far given more than seven million crowns in aid to humanitarian organisations for disaster relief. The Ministry of Agriculture has so far estimated that the floods have caused a billion crowns in damages to waterways and agriculture alone, with an additional 550 million in damages to road and rail infrastructure in the regions.
The Prague Zoo has announced that the baby gorilla born in its care roughly a month ago is a male. As gender cannot be determined by eye in gorilla young, it was found out by testing DNA taken from its droppings, a method that is not conclusive and must be conducted multiple times. It is now the second young male gorilla of three at the zoo. The animal is to be named on May 30 by its “godfather”, singer Karel Gott. So far the public has sent in 3000 suggestions for mostly Cezch and African names.
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