The 65th annual Prague Spring International Music Festival drew to a close on Friday night with a performance at Prague’s Smetana Hall in Obecní Dům. The Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin (Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra), led by conductor and artistic director Marek Janowski, performed Brahm’s Piano Concerto No.2 with American Emanual Ax on piano. Mr Ax then performed a short piece by Schumann, accompanied by violin cello. The familiar strains of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony closed the famous festival.
The inhabitants of around ten homes in Velké Pololmi in the area of Opava were evacuated from their village for safety reasons on Saturday, after an unexploded 300-kilogram bomb dating back to the Second World War was discovered in a nearby field. Police also closed off part of a nearby road to prevent anyone passing through the area to fall into danger. Pyrotechnics specialists were called in to secure the unexploded device; the police have not revealed further details.
The global ratings agency Fitch Ratings revised its outlook for the Czech Republic from stable to positive on Friday, reflecting the outcome of the recent election. The move came the same day the country’s president asked Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas to lead talks on the next government. Centre-right parties gained a decisive majority in the country’s general election last weekend on the promise of introducing tough fiscal reforms. The Civic Democrats and two newcomers TOP 09 and Public Affairs could form a government with a comfortable majority of 118 mandates out of a possible 200 in the lower house. They still have to work out details on the economy, the deficit, fighting corruption and other issues. The majority would be the largest held by any Czech government since the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993. Talks are expected to last for several weeks, with Mr Nečas due to update the president in a fortnight on progress made.
Last year’s doubles champions at the French Open, Leander Paes of India and Czech partner Luáš Dlouhý (seeded 3rd) will have a chance to defend their title later on Saturday against Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia (seeded 2nd). In their semi-final earlier, Paes and Dlouhý made short work of opponents Julian Knowle of Austria and Andy Ram of Israel in straight sets. The match took just 75 minutes and final score was 6:4, 6:2.
Music and theatre ensembles have begun performances at this year’s Mezi Ploty, or Between the Fences, cultural festival at Prague's Bohnice psychiatric hospital. Mezi Ploty is open to the public, with the aim of increasing awareness and understanding of mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction. The festival regularly sees tens of thousands of visitors. Some of the performers this year, the 19th inception of the festival, include the bands Sunflower Caravan and Toxique.
The Social Democratic Party, which fared worse in last week’s than most analysts expected, has begun analysing possible reasons for its weak finish, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes writes. The newspaper notes on Saturday that acting party head Bohuslav Sobotka and others agreed that a new chairman would only be sought in a leadership conference in early 2011. The party has put off the idea for an earlier conference in the fall to prevent possible political infighting ahead of the communal elections. On Friday, almost a week after the election, former chairman Jiří Paroubek spoke to fellow Social Democrats, largely blaming the right-wing media and newcomers Public Affairs for his party’s poor result, the paper said.
Czech tennis players Martina Navratilová and partner Jana Novotná have won the women’s doubles title at the French Open in the veterans’ category known as “Women’s Legends”. The 53-year-old Navratilová and 41-year-old Novotná beat the French-Croatian duo of Majoli/Tauziat by a score of 6:4; 6:2. Not long ago Navratilová, who displayed excellent form, revealed to the media she was fighting breast cancer. She is scheduled to play with Novotná again against the younger duo of Martina Hingis and Anna Kurnikova at Wimbledon.
The number of Czech allergy sufferers visiting their doctors rose by more than 20,000 in 2009 – to an overall figure of almost 890,000 people, statisticians have revealed. According to the numbers, more than half of those treated were children or teens. The most common problems treated included hay fever and asthma. Jana Wiesnerová of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic said that the average number of patients per 1,000 people rose slightly from 83.2 to 84.8. The region of Zlín had the highest number of patients per doctor (3,572) while Prague had the lowest (1,498).
Regions throughout the country will no longer cover mandatory healthcare fees for patients visiting regional hospitals and pharmacies, Pardubice’s Social Democrat governor Radko Martínek has said. He made the announcement on Friday, saying that the plan would only remain in place until the end of June. The coverage, he stressed, no longer made sense in view of the recent election results. The Social Democrats, long opposed to healthcare fees, were hoping to abolish them outright had they won a strong mandate last weekend. This week, coverage by regional governments was labelled “discriminatory” by the European Commission, which said that either all patients in the country should be covered – or none. Healthcare fees of 30 crowns at the doctor’s and for individual prescriptions, as well as higher amounts for emergency ward visits and hospital stays, were first introduced by Mirek Topolánek’s government in 2008.
A clean-up operation is underway in the north-eastern parts of the country where floods killed two people this week. Although some towns remain on flood alert water levels have been going down and meteorologists predict dry and sunny weather over the weekend. Some areas have been flooded twice within the space of a fortnight, leaving hundreds of families displaced. Fire crews have been working around the clock pumping water from cellars and aid workers have been distributing basic necessities. Psychologists are on hand to help people cope with the calamity.
Prague transit stops start of massive project for US student
Political scientist: Prague has become a hub for Russian operations in broader Central Europe
Growing concern over plight of leading Chinese investor in the Czech Republic
President Zeman’s Chinese advisor arrested
Jan Masaryk’s mysterious death – a “last nail” in the coffin of democracy in 1948