President Václav Klaus and the Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka signed an agreement in Prague on Monday the joint administration of St Vitus Cathedral – ending an 18-year-long property dispute. The agreement outlines that the historic site, which Mr Klaus called an “exceptional national symbol” will be run jointly by the state and the Czech Catholic Church, meaning that the Church will withdraw a complaint filed at the Constitutional Court. Archbishop Dominik Duka’s approach to settling the dispute comes in marked contrast to that of his predecessor, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, who opposed a similar deal and threatened to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Twice in the past, lower Czech courts ruled in favour of the Church, but in the last decision the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the state. The Church lost control of St Vitus Cathedral in 1954, several years after the Communists seized power in then-Czechoslovakia.
In related news, the national hockey team touched down at Prague’s international airport on Monday 14 hours after beating Russia at the World Championship in Germany. The team was greeted by hundreds of fans who came out to show their support and congratulate the team on its success. Later, thousands more waved flags and cheered as the team arrived to greet fans at Prague’s Old Town Square. The Czech national squad was one of the biggest surprises in this year’s tournament, winning with only four players from the NHL, compared to more than 12 for Russia. The team also had to win five straight games in order to clinch the title, after doing poorly in the opening round and coming close to not qualifying for the quarterfinals for the first time in the country’s history. Both the quarterfinals and the semis went to penalty shots against Finland and Sweden, before the Czechs could face the tournament-favourites Russia.
Czech charities have reportedly collected around 11 million crowns in public donations towards helping people in Moravia and Silesia whose property was damaged or destroyed by floods last week. In addition to donations by text message or direct contributions, organisations are hoping to raise still more funds. The Czech Red Cross in conjunction with Prague City Hall, for example, will hold a special benefit concert in the Czech capital on Wednesday.
Well-known Czech pop singer Petr Muk, a successful solo artist and the voice behind earlier projects such as Oceán and Shalom, has been found dead at 45. The singer was found in his home on Monday morning but the cause of his death remains unknown, friend and producer to the singer Oldřich Lichtenberg said. Just a few days ago the pop singer released a new album. It is public knowledge that he had been treated for - and struggled repeatedly with - bouts of depression. Muk was perhaps best-known for his work in the 1980s with the group Oceán which – with synthesiser and New Romantic sound – was reminiscent of British groups like The Cure and Depeche Mode.
The Czech Republic has won the World Championship in ice hockey, defeating Russia 2:1 on Sunday evening. It is the sixth time since the break-up of Czechoslovakia that the Czechs have won the title. The national team took the lead just 20 seconds into the game on a goal by Jakub Klepiš. Russia almost tied it in the first period, scoring a mere second after the buzzer had gone. In the second period, the Czechs’ Tomáš Rolinek made it 2:0, while in the third, Russia’s Pavel Datsyuk managed to score on the powerplay with 36 seconds remaining. But the Czechs were able to hold on for the win – their fifth straight in seven days. In the ceremony that followed, the gold medals were handed out by Czech President Václav Klaus.
Two Hungarian nationals have been arrested for allegedly failing to pay at least 74 million crowns in VAT on scrap iron brought into the country. The two suspects, aged 34 and 21, are believed to have transported more than 450 million crowns worth of material that was sold at a scrap yard in the Kromeříž area. The announcement was made by police in Zlín on Monday. The two are currently in custody. The police said that they had three firms registered in Brno which served as fronts for the illegal activity; if found guilty, the two men could spend between five and ten years behind bars.
A new survey conducted by the Factum Invenio agency has suggested a
narrowing in voter preference between the country’s two largest parties,
the Social and Civic Democrats – four days before Czechs go to the
According to the pollster, the Social Democrats would receive 26.3 percent
of the vote, while the Civic Democrats would get 22.9. The survey
that four other parties could also make into the Chamber of Deputies: the
Communists (13.1), the centrist Public Affairs (12.6), the right-wing TOP
09 (10.9), and the Christian Democrats (5.5 percent). According to the
survey, the Leftist parties together would not earn a majority in the
Under Czech law, no new polls results will be released after this Monday to prevent the influencing of voters in the final run-up to the election.
A 16-year-old boy who was struck by lightning in the Trutnov area at the weekend has recovered consciousness and is no longer in intensive care, a hospital spokeswoman has said, saying he would be transferred to a standard bed. The boy’s condition stabilised on Sunday and continued to improve. He had suffered burns to 15 percent of his body when he and friend were both struck in the outdoors on Saturday. The other minor is also in stable condition. The accident happened in difficult terrain, with one of the injured boys regaining consciousness and calling for help on his cell phone. Both were transferred to separate hospitals helicopter. Last year the Czech Republic saw a number of similar such incidents.
Hundreds of soldiers are continuing clean-up operations in the town of Karviná, one of many municipalities in Moravia and Silesia hit by floods last week. Some 400 homes in Karviná were hit, and at least one faces demolition. Many homes suffered flooded cellars and other damage requiring stress assessment. Soldiers are clearing the banks of nearby rivers including the Olše, digging ditches to drain away remaining water. The Karviná area, along with Ostrava and Frýdek-Mýstek were the hardest-hit during last week’s floods, which claimed one life: a 69-year-old woman drowned after the Olše River burst its banks.
Prime Minister Fischer told Czech Television on Sunday that he intends to ask the Chamber of Deputies to rush through a proposal for the issue of 3 billion crowns in flood bonds before elections next weekend. The proposal would be dealt with as emergency legislation at a special session of Parliament on Thursday, the day before elections. The PM said that the bonds would unavoidably push the state budget deficit beyond the approved level of 163 billion crowns. Parliament already has one special session scheduled for the coming week dealing with a proposal for direct election of the president.