Actor and former culture minister Martin Štěpánek committed suicide in his Prague residence on Thursday night. The police confirmed that Mr. Štěpánek shot himself, but have released no further details. Štěpánek came from a famous family of actors and spent more than ten years in exile after emigrating from communist Czechoslovakia in 1981. He asked for political asylum in Austria where he both acted and worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. After the fall of communism he moved back to Prague. Štěpánek served as culture minister in prime minister Mirek Topolánek’s centre-right government between September 2006 and January 2007.
The Cannabizz 2010 international hemp fair opened in Prague on Friday offering a wide variety of hemp products, from cosmetics and clothes to food and medicine. Several dozen companies from the Netherlands, Austria, France, Germany and the US are presenting their goods. The three-day event is taking place under the watchful eye of the police, but organizers say everything on sale is perfectly legal. Although the Czech Republic has not legalized soft drugs, possession of a small amount of marihuana for one’s own use is not illegal.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is due to arrive in the Czech Republic on Monday for a one-day working visit. His talks with Prime Minister Petr Necas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg are expected to focus on bilateral ties and the renewed Middle East peace talks. The visit takes place on the 20th anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Czech title holders Sparta Prague had a great start in their Europa League on Thursday when they beat Italy’s Palermo 3:2 in the Czech capital. After a nervous start, Bony Wilfried scored the home side’s first goal in 17th minute. Palermo managed to draw before halftime, but Jiří Kladrubský and Václav Kadlec put Sparta back in the lead in the second half. Palermo’s Hernandez set the final score with some ten minutes left of the game. Sparta manager Josef Chovanec said the hosts owed the victory to their team spirit. The Czech champions will face CSKA Moscow on their turf at the end of the month, before hosting Lausanne in October.
A Prague court dealing with a complaint lodged by the state of Bavaria against a Czech publishing company over the publishing and sale of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in the Czech Republic has ordered the latter to withdraw the book from the market and destroy all copies on stock. Bavaria lodged the complaint in April of this year on the grounds that the Bavarian Finance Ministry owns the copyright to the book until 2015, seventy years after Hitler’s death. No representative of the Czech KMa publishers was present in court and it is not clear if they are planning to appeal the verdict.
The police on Friday charged a Prague bus driver who was caught driving a packed bus heavily intoxicated. A test revealed he had a blood alcohol content of 3,5 permille, which is a state on the brink of alcohol poisoning. The police was alerted to the problem by a passenger who said the driver was acting funny. The driver faces up to 3 years in jail.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta said stalled negotiations would continue with farmer Ludmila Havránková about the sale of her land which would allow the extension of the D 11 highway to Hradec Kralove. Efforts to acquire the respective three hectares of land which stand in the way of construction have continued for sixteen years with the last government threatening to expropriate the land on the grounds of public interest if an agreement was not reached soon. Minister Bárta said talks were being renewed and he hoped to be able to report a favourable outcome in a few weeks time.
Novak Djokovic was forced to withdraw from the opening day of the Davis Cup World Group semi-final between Serbia and Czech Republic on Friday due to stomach problems, a statement said. Victor Troicki, world ranked 47, will replace Djokovic in the first rubber against Czech Radek Stepanek, ranked 35th, a statement on the Davis Cup website said.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas has asked the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy for the 27-member block to put more pressure on Canada over the matter of visas for Czech citizens. Canada enforced visas for Czech nationals last year in reaction to a stream of predominantly Romany asylum seekers from the Czech Republic and has refused to reverse its decision. The European Commission has expressed solidarity with the Czech Republic and briefly considered the idea of introducing visas for Canadian diplomats in response, but never took the step. The Czech prime minister urged greater solidarity saying that the lack of action suggested the Czech Republic was viewed as a second-class member of the alliance.
Twenty-two tons of butter imported from neighbouring Germany has had to be taken off the shelves after failing to meet quality control norms, the Czech Standards and Quality Control Office reported on Friday. According to the head of the office, Josef Duben, the butter does not present a health risk. It was taken off shelves because it contained significantly more water than EU norms permit.
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ANO leader Andrej Babiš appointed Czech prime minister
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