Motorways around the country are jammed as Czechs leave the cities at the start of summer holidays and a four-day weekend. Long columns have in a number of places, particularly on the D1 motorway from Prague to Brno at the exits from Prague, where the column stretches into the city. Drivers must also expect slower conditions in neighbouring countries, especially when heading south. Traffic on German and Croatian roads is also reported to be jammed in places due to the influx. According to the Association of Czech Travel Agencies roughly a million people are expected to leave for holidays between Friday and Saturday evening.
Incoming foreign minister and TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg has expressed regret that the Ministry of the Environment is to be run by the Civic Democratic party in the new coalition government. In an interview for the daily Lidové Noviny Mr Schwarzenberg said that he had the impression that the ministry would be a mere husk, run by representatives of the energy giant ČEZ. The new environmental minister is to be Civic Democrat Pavel Drobil, who has no experience working in ecological issues. Mr Schwarzenberg said that his party’s pick for the post had been ecology professor and senator Bedřich Moldan, but that the Civic Democrats had rejected him because they did not want a responsible ministry. The Czech Republic, he said, is “simply the property of ČEZ”.
A poll for the best Czech film of all time was won at the weekend by the 1939 comedy “Kristián” starring Oldřich Nový and Adina Mandlová and directed by Martin Frič. Some 2,500 people voted in the survey, which was held by the company Media Desk with the cooperation of Týden magazine. All top three places on the list were in fact taken by Martin Frič films, with “Cesta do hlubin študákovy duše” coming in second place and “Eva tropí hlouposti” in third.
The State Institute of Drug Control is to launch a new service allowing pharmacies to find out more quickly when a medicine is defective and to take it off their shelves. Regional offices will also be better informed. Until now, the institute has sent out notification of faulty medicines by mail or fax. According to the institute, the fundamental improvement is that pharmacists will no longer have to check their inventories for the medicines in question but will by notified by the system if the drugs are in their stores. The system will also provide speedy information about counterfeit drugs.
Pope Benedict XVI may be visiting the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2013 for the 1150th anniversary of Cyril and Methodius at Velehrad in Moravia. The Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, told the Czech Press Agency on Saturday that he would be working to make the trip a reality. A delegation of Church officials will be travelling to the Vatican in September to thank the pope for his visit to the Czech Republic last year and the archbishop intends to invite the pontiff again on that occasion. The visit, he said, would likely be very brief as Benedict will likely be visiting a number of places.
The south Bohemian town of Slavonice is celebrating the 750th anniversary of its first mention in writing on a Latin document from 1260 recording the purchase of ecclesiastical lands. The main celebration is now taking place under the slogan “the city celebrates with friends”, denoting the attendance of representatives of the town’s sister cities, Dobersberg in Austria, Stakčína in Slovakia and Bogen in Germany. The town square will be the scene of a display of traditional crafts and theatre and musical performances, and a football tournament among the partner cities will be held, all until July 6. Slavonice is home to some 2,700 people and is well known for its preserved city walls and 16th century facades.
Road accidents took the lives of eight people between Friday and Saturday; six of the fatal accidents occurred in Central Bohemia. One person was killed on the D5 motorway near Žebrák when two lorries collided. One of the lorries apparently stopped short to avoid hitting an animal when the second vehicle crashed into it, killing the driver. In another accident in the town of Votice, a 59-year-old driver was found dead after his car crashed into a fence. The police believe that health problems may have been involved. Both accidents are being investigated. Rescue services in the region said they were called out to 20 accidents on Friday alone. The end of the school year, the last day of which was Wednesday, and the beginning of summer holidays tends to bring with it increased rates of road accidents.
In the same interview Mr Schwarzenberg defended his party deputy Miroslav Kalousek against suspicions of corruption, saying he finds the suggestion annoying. Addressing a loan that Mr Kalousek reportedly received from influential businessman Richard Háva, the new foreign minister invited anyone with evidence that the loan was not repaid to come forward, and said others to “go to hell”. The new finance minister was “no saint” according to Mr Schwarzenberg, but he said he was convinced that he lived a relatively austere lifestyle and never sought money for private purposes, but only for the Christian Democratic Party, of which he was chairman.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych is preparing for his first Wimbledon finals match after defeating Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in straight sets on Friday. The 24-year-old said on Saturday that reaching the final was the fulfilment of a dream, and that he would enjoy his victory for the day and get a good sleep before getting ready for the championship match on Sunday, in which he will be pitted against world number one Rafael Nadal. Berdych is the first Czech to reach the final at Wimbledon since Ivan Lendl in 1987.
A conference of Jehovah’s Witnesses has begun at the Tesla Arena in Prague; more than 4,000 are reported to be in attendance. The theme of the conference is “staying close to God”; a pool is prepared for baptising new members and the advertisements in the sporting area were covered up so as not to distract the attendees. The three-day gathering is to continue until Monday and meet again the following weekend. Altogether the organisers expect 10,000 attendees.
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