- Former prime minister Jiří Paroubek has been elected chairman of the new leftist party LEV 21.
- Business magnate Andrej Babiš is aiming to make inroads into Czech politics on a prosperity and anti-corruption platform, Mf Dnes has reported.
- Fire fighters responded to a fire in a building in Smíchov on Saturday, in an apartment police suspect was being used for the production of illegal drugs.
- This year’s Jindřich Chalupecký Prize for best artist in the Czech Republic under the age of 35 has been won by film and video creator Marek Ther.
- Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has defeated David Ferrer to book a semi-final spot in the prestigious ATP World Finals in London.
Former prime minister elected head of new leftist party
Former prime minister Jiří Paroubek has been elected chairman of the new leftist party LEV 21– receiving 233 votes out of 235 delegates present at the party’s convention in Prague on Saturday (two abstained). Jaroslav Král, head of the party’s preparatory committee, called the new leader “every inch a socialist”. The party’s name is an acronym for “Left” but also means “lion” in Czech. Committee members told delegates that LEV 21 will cooperate closely with the extra-parliamentary Czech Social and National Party (CSNS 2005). They said the two parties will act jointly from now on.
Up until last year Jiří Paroubek was the head of the opposition Social Democrats but stepped down as party leader after a poorer-than-expected result in the 2010 general election. He later left the party over disagreement with its current direction.
Babiš reveals political ambitions
Business magnate Andrej Babiš – chairman and majority owner of Agrofert – is aiming to make inroads into Czech politics reports the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. Several weeks ago Mr Babiš founded an initiative known as Akci nespokojených občanů (ANO 2011) in the aim of drawing attention to corruption and other problems faced by the government. The businessman told the Czech newspaper that he had ambitions to succeed in parliamentary elections in 2014, suggesting that politicians currently in power were not doing a good job. His initiative’s aims are to push for greater transparency, better legislation and a better justice system, Mr Babiš said.
Several parties in the past have also run on anti-corruption platforms: Public Affairs, an upstart party prior to the last elections gained seats in the lower house and consequently a spot in the current centre-right government on the basis of its anti-corruption message.
Investigators seal off head office at municipal police headquarters
Members of the country’s anti-organised crime unit worked late into Friday evening securing evidence and sealing off the head office at Prague’s Municipal Police headquarters after the arrest of the city police head Vladimír Kotrouš for allegedly accepting a bribe. Items seized for reasons of evidence included personal computers, an inside source told Mladá fronta Dnes. Mr Kotrouš was arrested in his car on Friday shortly after receiving the alleged bribe and apparently valuable items for an undisclosed service, the daily wrote. Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda has expressed concern over the case: Mr Kotrouš has headed Prague’s Municipal Police since 2002, but has been with the force ten years longer than that.
Fire caused by explosion in illegal drugs manufacture
Fire fighters responded to a fire in a six-story building in Smíchov, Prague, on Saturday, in an apartment police suspect was being used for the cooking and production of illegal drugs. The fire broke out shortly after 9 am in an empty fifth floor apartment – possibly the result of an explosion. No one was injured. According to as yet unofficial information the police received an anonymous call from the drug manufacturer himself after the accident. The man called after escaping the scene; he has not been apprehended.
Italian tourist dies in fall from Charles Bridge
A 45-year-old Italian national was killed on Friday afternoon when he accidentally fell from Prague’s historic Charles Bridge. According to a police spokesman, the tourist lost his balance while trying to take a picture of one of the bridge’s many statues. The tragedy took place at around four-thirty pm at Na Kampě street in the Malá Strana quarter: the man died on the spot.
In 2003, another Italian just 19-years-old died at the bridge when – apparently under the influence of alcohol – he fell and drowned. In 2005, a visitor from Slovakia leapt from the bridge and was killed when he hit only shallow water below.
Marek Ther awarded 2011 Chalupecký Prize
This year’s Jindřich Chalupecký Prize for best artist in the Czech Republic under the age of 35 has been won by film and video creator Marek Ther. In its choice the international jury praised the artist’s courage in challenging social taboos and prejudices. Curator Rainer Fuchs at DOX Gallery on Friday pointed out that “beauty and horror presented in Ther’s work were not mutually exclusive”. Mr Ther is a graduate of Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts where he studied painting under Vladimír Škrepl; he soon left painting behind, however, in favor of New Media using video and film.
Berdych triumphs over Ferrer in final round-robin match
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has booked a spot in the semi-finals of the prestigious ATP World Finals after beating Spanish opponent David Ferrer in London on Friday evening. The Spaniard took control of the match by winning the first set, but was then edged by the world No. 7 in the second. Berdych continued his momentum in the final set, leading 5:0 before Ferrer picked up a lone game. The final score was 3:6, 7:5, 6:1. It is the first time that Tomáš Berdych, a Wimbledon finalist, has qualified for the semis in the season-ending tournament; he will now face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. His win over Ferrer in the round-robin stage knocked world No. 1 Novak Djokovic - who had a phenomenal season this year - out of the tournament.
The coming days are expected to be partly cloudy with scattered showers and day temperatures between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.