The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic in May dropped to 8.7 percent, a decrease of 0.5 percent compared to the previous month, according to government figures released on Tuesday. Some 515,000 Czechs sought employment in May, which represented more that 15 workers per one vacancy. Last May, however, the unemployment rate was lower, at 7.9 percent. Analysts say seasonal employment, new jobs as well as community work contributed to the lower jobless rate in the third consecutive month; they point out however that fewer people were able to find jobs in May than in the previous month.
Playwright and former Czech president Václav Havel will receive this year’s Franz Kafka Prize, organizers said on Tuesday. The literary award is co-sponsored by the Franz Kafka Society and the Prague Town Hall and includes a financial reward of USD 10,000. Previous recipients include Ivan Klíma, Harold Pinter and Philip Roth. Václav Havel, who retired as president in 2003, is currently preparing his debut as film director; in July, he will direct a movie based on his latest play, Leaving.
The Civic Democratic party’s local branch in the city of České Budějovice, southern Bohemia, is facing disbanding over a suspicious enrolment of new party members, a Civic Democrat party spokesman said on Tuesday. The branch has 80 members, 60 of whom joined the party last year in three waves, while most of them live elsewhere. While local party leaders reject allegations they’d formally accepted new party members to gain more voting power within the party structures, the Civic Democrat leadership is to decide whether the branch will be disbanded. Last year, another Civic Democrat local branch was disbanded after 300 new members joined within three days.
In related news, environmental experts from the three Czech political parties are considering imposing an environmental import tax on goods that burden the environment. The negotiator for the Public Affairs party, Vít Bárta, told the Czech news agency ČTK his counterparts had accepted the proposal. The parties also said they were not planning to remove coal-mining limits imposed in the early 1990s on brown coal deposits in northern Bohemia.
A court in Prague confirmed a sentence of 17 years for a 54-year-old man, who shot dead a real estate agent in December 2008. The man advertised to sell a house he did not own; he lured the 23-year-old victim to a meeting and shot him in the head after a brief brawl. He later buried the victim’s body, and never confessed to having committed the act. Psychiatrists who examined the killer said he had no respect for legal or moral norms, and that he was totally lacking in compassion.
A student at Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design displayed her work – a bust of President Václav Klaus made of ice – on the premises of a Czech government’s building on Tuesday despite a ban by the government’s office. The artwork, part of a student exhibiton in the gardens of Prague’s Lishctestein Palace, is a take on Mr Klaus’ strong stand on global clinmate change; the Czech president has repeatedly said it was not man-made. Members of the governement’s office said the premises were not suitable for caricatures of politicians but the author let the bust of the Czech head of state melt in the garden despite the ban.
The outgoing Green Party leader, and former education minister Ondřej Liška has applied for unemployment benefits, the news website tyden.cz reported on Tuesday. Mr Liška, who announced his resignation as party leader following the Green’s staggering defeat in the recent general elections, said his going on the dole was “a formality” for a short period since he had received a number of offers for employment. The Greens, who had six MPs in the lower house in the previous term, only received 2.4 percent of the vote, and had to adopt cost-cutting measurers. The party has closed down all of its regional offices, and let go of their employees.
Three Czech political parties who are holding talks on forming a centre-right coalition government agreed on Tuesday on introducing tuition fees at Czech public universities. Negotiators for the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs said the fees should not exceed 10,000 crowns, or 450 US dollars, per semester. Students would be able to pay the fees after graduation to make sure socially challenged students are not excluded from higher education. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka reacted by saying his party would do everything in its power to prevent tuition fees from being approved in the lower house. Following the recent general elections, the Civic Democrat leader, Petr Nečas, is holding negotiations on forming the new government with the conservative party TOP 09 and Public Affairs. Analysts believe the new government could be formed within a month’s time.
The board of directors of the state-owned Czech Railways approved on Wednesday a plan to emit 300 million euro in international bonds, the Czech news agency ČTK reported on Tuesday. The company plans to use to funds to renovate its ageing fleet. Czech Railways CEO Petr Žaluda said the company must first receive international ratings, which should be ready later this year.
British actor Jude Law is set to attend the 45th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where he’ll receive the Festival President’s Award, organizers said on Tuesday. At the festival, the BAFTA Award winner and Oscar nominee will attend the screening of his 1999 film, The Talented Mr Ripley, in which he portrayed the son of an American shipbuilder. The 45th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which takes place in the west Bohemian spa town between July, 2 and 10, will feature two Czech films in the main competition – Three Seasons in Hell and Kooky.