The head of the Christian Democratic Party – which failed to make it into the Chamber of Deputies in last week’s elections - officially stepped down as party leader on Sunday, despite the fact originally he indicated he would do so only at the Christian Democrats’ next party conference, when a new leader will be chosen. An exact date for the convention has not been decided yet, but some members are favouring a date in June. Until then, the party will be led by deputy leader Michaela Šojdrová. The Christian Democrats are one of the oldest parties in the Czech Republic and had been in the lower house for 91 years. However, they had suffered a long-term drop in voter preference and in last week’s general election received only 4.4 percent of the vote, short of the critical five percent needed to make it into the Chamber. The party still has four representatives in the Senate.
The 50th annual Zlín International Film Festival for youth and children wrapped-up on Saturday evening with awarded handed out at a gala ceremony. The Polish film Magic Tree by Andrzej Maleszka won the main prize, while other films recognised included the Swedish film Sebbe and British film Lost & Found. The international jury was made up of members from the four Visegrad countries: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The renowned festival began a week ago and saw 356 films from 43 countries screened. One of this year’s guests included British actor Christopher Lee - known for numerous roles including Star Wars’ Count Dooku, the evil wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, and Dracula.
Around a hundred demonstrators protested against Israel on Saturday on Prague’s Wenceslas Square, decrying a deadly raid this week by Israeli forces against an aid ship that had sailed in defiance of the country’s blockade of Gaza. Nine activists were killed in clashes aboard the Mavi Marmara during the commando strike. Protestors in Prague chanted slogans and carried a black coffin symbolising the victims. The turnout in the Czech capital was much smaller than in a number of other major European cities: in Paris, 5,000 demonstrated; London also saw several thousand.
Czech tennis player Lukáš Dlouhý and doubles partner Leander Paes of
India have been defeated in the Men’s Doubles final at the French Open.
The duo – who were seeded 3rd and were the defending champions from last
year - lost in straight sets to Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic
of Serbia. The final score was 7:5, 6:2. In the match, Nestor and
who were seeded No. 2, converted four break points and never lost serve.
The Czechs’ greatest success at the French Open this year was in the veteran’s category, Women’s Legends, where Czech-born player Martina Navrátilová and partner Jana Novotná won in the women’s doubles category. Recently, Ms Navrátilová, one of the best tennis players of all time, revealed she was fighting breast cancer.
In related news, one of the head negotiators in talks on the government
for the Civic Democrats, Petr Tluchoř, has said that the basic outlines
a coalition agreement between his party, TOP 09 and Public Affairs would
not be ready in two weeks when his party leader is due to update the Czech
president on their progress. He said as much in an interview for one of
Czech Republic’s commercial TV stations on Sunday. In his view, a basic
agreement could be ready by the end of June, saying the parties might sign
an agreement and form a government in the summer.
Kristýna Kočí, of Public Affairs, meanwhile, stressed that any coalition agreement would still have to be passed by its party's members and followers. She called Mr Tluchoř's assessment premature as negotiations are still in the early stages. She also echoed earlier statements by her party that Public Affairs might not enter the coalition at all but only support a minority government.
Four youngsters around the age of 15 were caught on Sunday in Valašské Klobouky in the Zlín area firing an airsoft weapon at a local passenger train. Airsoft weapons fire plastic-ceramic projectiles; startled passengers alerted the authorities on what was happening. The train was hit in seven places, a police spokeswoman said; she said it was pure luck that no one was hurt and that the shots had hit only medal. The town hall will treat the incident as a misdemeanour.
The theatre director, actor and screenwriter Ladislav Smoljak, who co-founded the famous Žižkov Theatre of Jára Cimrman, has died at the age of 78. He had been in hospital following a long bout with illness. The news was confirmed by his son as well as a theatre spokesman on Sunday. Mr Smoljak was a household name in the Czech Republic for film roles in the 1970s and ‘80s and well as for his creative collaboration with writer/director Zdeněk Svěrák. Together, along with Jiří Šebank, they founded and wrote satirical plays for the Žižkov Theatre of Jára Cimrman, based in Prague, focussing on the fictional comic character of Jára Cimrman who somehow wound up involved in defining moments in modern history.
A 13-year-old boy and his mother were injured on Sunday afternoon during a "royal" parade on its way to the Czech castle, Karlštejn, echoing historic times. The accident happened in the town of Řevnice. The boy and his mother were struck by a horseback rider who had urged her horse into a trot in order to get up an incline in the road. All other bystanders managed to get out of the way. The boy suffered a hip injury, the mother only scratches. Both were treated at Motol Hospital in Prague. The police are investigating the cause of the accident, including why the rider did not stop to help but continued on after the incident.
A key figure in the Public Affairs party, Vít Bárta – currently
negotiating on the next government – has suggested some Civic Democrats
would prefer a grand coalition with long-time political rivals the Social
Democrats. He made the statement questioning some Civic Democrats' aims
during a Czech TV debate programme on Sunday. Mr Bárta did not reveal any
concrete names, nor did another guest present, Petr Gazdík of TOP 09,
involved in the talks. But Civic Democrat representative David Vodražka
immediately denied the charge, saying he knew of no one in his party who
preferred such a scenario. His party leader, Petr Nečas, has been tasked
by the country’s president to lead talks on the next government.
After last weekend’s election result, three parties – the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs – earned a realistic chance of forming a new centre-right government with an unprecedented majority in the Chamber of Deputies. But newcomers Public Affairs, concretely Mr Bárta, have issued a number of statements since that were perceived as potentially complicating negotiations. All three parties signed a declaration of intent earlier this week as indication they were taking talks on forming a new government seriously.
The Czech capital saw a record number of people take part in the 10th annual March Against Breast Cancer on Saturday. Some ten thousand joined in the walk in the historic centre, many of them wearing pink t-shirts and carrying balloons sold to raise funds in the fight against the disease. An organiser said some 11,000 of the shirts had been sold at 300 crowns each. Around 6,000 women in the Czech Republic are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and in almost a third of those cases the disease proves fatal. Doctors and health officials stress repeatedly that women should routinely undergo screening tests. Currently, only around 53 percent of Czech women do, a head doctor at the Prague General Teaching Hospital said.
Demonstrations held in 11 cities over election of Communist MP Ondráček to chairman post
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Czech Republic caught up in plastic waste disposal crisis in Europe
President Zeman’s Chinese advisor arrested
Growing concern over plight of leading Chinese investor in the Czech Republic