- Czechs abroad have begun voting in the second round of the presidential elections.
- The second request of the French company Areva to suspend the lucrative Temelín expansion tender has been turned down by the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition.
- A half-year joint operation by Czech and Bavarian police has brought in over one kilogram of methamphetamine that was being trafficked across the border.
- The Communist regional councilwoman from South Bohemia Vítězslava Baborová is set to quit her post.
- Meteorologists have warned that smog and air pollution will continue around the country until Sunday.
Czechs abroad head to the polls
Czech citizens staying in Brazil and on the west coast of the United States were the first of Czechs abroad to begin voting in the second round of the presidential elections on Thursday afternoon. The polls will open in the Czech Republic at 2pm, but on Friday. Polling stations in the country and abroad will close at 2pm on Saturday. There is still one more debate left between the two candidates Karel Schwarzenberg and Miloš Zeman, which will be broadcast live on Thursday night on Czech television, starting at 8 pm.
Franz will vote for Zeman
One of the nine first-round presidential candidates, Vladimír Franz, has announced that he will vote for Miloš Zeman in the second round of the election this weekend. Though he did tell his voters that he will not recommend which candidate they should vote for. He also said that his choice is not an explicit endorsement of the candidate. He told the website iDnes.cz that Mr Zeman seems “more readable” to him than his opponent Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Mr Franz, who is a composer and a university professor, finished fifth in the first round with less than seven percent of the votes. The third-place candidate Jan Fischer had indirectly supported Miloš Zeman as well on Monday.
Areva gets turned down again
The French company Areva that was excluded from a public tender for the expansion of the nuclear power plant Temelín has again received a negative response from the Office for the Protection of Competition to their request to suspend the tender. Areva was excluded last October by the state-owned energy company ČEZ from the tender competition because the company allegedly failed to meet the criteria. Areva has denied the claims and has twice requested for the tender to be suspended and re-evaluated. ČEZ is currently choosing between the Japanese-American Westinghouse and the Czecho-Russian Consortium MIR.1200.
Czech and German police seize more than a kilo of meth
In a joint half-year-long operation, the Czech and Bavarian police and customs officers have seized more than a kilogram of methamphetamine. The operation that focused on the trafficking of the drug across the border between the Czech Republic and Germany took place between July and December of last year. The drugs seized by the special cross-border taskforce could have served some 40,000 users. Bavaria and Saxony have been experience an increase in meth trafficking from the Czech Republic in the past three years. Some Bavarian politicians have criticized the Czechs for the country’s allegedly lenient drug policies.
South Bohemian Communist councilwoman to quit post
The South Bohemian regional councilwoman for education and culture Vítězslava Baborová, who is a member of the Communist Party, will most likely step down from her post. The main reason for her resignation has not yet been clarified. The media cite health problems as being one of them, but other sources speculate that Ms Baborová is stepping down as a result of the of continuing protests. Students, teachers and others have held street protests and hunger strikes for the past two months to protests against the Communist Party being part of the regional coalition government, and especially having the education post on the council. The regional Communist Party leadership has announced that if Ms Baborová does resign, the party will name another one of its members to the post.
Air quality will remain poor till Sunday
Smog will continue to cause worsening air quality around the Czech Republic until Sunday, meteorologist have warned. The situation has been getting worse since Monday of this week. Two regions have issued smog warnings, and the average daily concentration of dust particles in the air are two or three times the permitted limit in many places. It should begin to snow heavily on Sunday, which is combination with colder temperatures should help to improve air quality by early next week.
Flu death toll up to 33
Two more people have died as a result of the flu on Wednesday in southern Bohemia, bringing the total number of flu-related deaths this season in the Czech Republic to 33. Around 170 have been hospitalized this season with severe flu symptoms. The last two victims were men who had been treated for chronic illnesses. The Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimír Valenta had said that 60 percent of people how have fallen ill with the flu this season are extremely overweight. Hospitals are giving sever patients antiviral medication.
Retrospective of Czech modernist painters opens in Seoul
A showcase of 107 paintings from the collection of the National Gallery in Prague has opened at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea on Thursday. The exhibit entitled 'Memory of Landscape I have never seen’ presents works by 28 Czech artists from the period of 1895 to 1943. This is one of the largest presentations of Czech modernist paintings abroad. The ministers of culture and directors of the Czech and Korean museums were present at the opening ceremony.
Football coach Janů dies in Indonesia
A Czech football coach Miroslav Janů has died of a heart attack on Thursday in Surabaya, Indonesia. Janů, who was 53 years old, was a former player and coach for Prague’s Slavia team, but had spent most of his coaching career in Indonesia. He had also played for Bohemians Praha, and had coached in Most. In Indonesia he was the coach for the teams Persigo and PSM, which he to second place in the local league.
Annual Dušek celebration of Chinese New Year has begun
The annual celebration of the beginning of the Chinese lunar New Year with the Czech actor Jaroslav Dušek and the Chinese singer Feng-yun Song has begun on Thursday afternoon at Prague’s Palác Akropolis music venue. The Chinese New Year is celebrated this year on February 10-11. An exhibition of traditional martial arts and ethnic dances as well as a musical performance were planned for the day. The organizers will hold the show in four other Czech cities in the next few days.
It should be mostly overcast with light snow in the upcoming days. Daytime highs will dip to between -8 and -4 degrees Celsius.