- The president-elect met with the current head of the president’s office on Friday to discuss the upcoming transition.
- The sister stations Metropol and Pětka have run out of money and will be airing reruns, sources report.
- Cases of acute respiratory illness and flu in the country have continued to rise.
- The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority seized 320 litres of spirits at an illegal warehouse in Karlovy Vary.
- Nominations for the 20th Czech Lion national film awards will be announced on Saturday night.
President-elect meets with Weigl, Velíšek in preparation for transition
President-elect Miloš Zeman met with the current head of the president’s office, Jiří Weigl, as well as Prague Castle administrative director Ivo Velíšek on Friday to discuss transition steps. Mr Zeman will be inaugurated as the Czech Republic’s third president in March. The president-elect said he aimed to meet with Prague Castle employees to find out who would be staying on following the departure of the current head-of-state Václav Klaus. Mr Zeman revealed he had already chosen future aides at the Castle, one of whom is his secretary Jaroslav Hlinovksý, in the past employed by Mr Zeman’s controversial former aide Miroslav Šlouf, the Czech news agency reported.
ČTK: Zeman to meet with president, PM, on Tuesday
In related news, Miloš Zeman will meet with the outgoing president, Václav Klaus, on Tuesday afternoon and with Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Tuesday evening, the Czech news agency reports citing unofficial sources. Mr Zeman’s first, ČTK writes, is expected to be amicable. Alleged political differences aside, Mr Klaus and other members of his family, made clear ahead of the election they favored Mr Zeman as the next president. Mr Klaus steps down after two terms on March 7.
The president-elect’s meeting with the prime minister, by contrast, is expected to be more formal in nature; the day he was elected, Mr Zeman questioned the legitimacy of the centre-right coalition, saying it would be better if the country saw early elections.
Pětka & Metropol out of money, opt for reruns
The sister TV stations Pětka and Metropol have stopped production of new programming and has opted to air re-runs news website mediar.cz says. According to the site, the stations have been out of money for two months. Earlier reports said that Metropol Productions, the firm behind both stations, had lost funding from businessman Luboš Měkota, whose holdings have been frozen by the police. Empressa Media is reportedly interested in the sister stations. Financial website IHNED, meanwhile, writes that the staff and management will learn more in mid-February; employees are already owed two months in unpaid wages, a station official confirmed.
Flu epidemic continues
A flu epidemic in the Czech Republic has shown few signs of abating: on the contrary, the number of reported cases of acute respiratory illness this week rose by 9.6 percent and flu across all age groups by 33 percent. There are currently 264 serious cases in the country, Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimír Valenta revealed; the flu this season has claimed 51 lives in the Czech Republic. The southwest of the country, by comparison, has seen a stagnation or slight decrease in the number of reported cases.
Authority seizes more than 300 litres of spirits
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority secured 320 litres of spirits lacking proper documentation at an illegal warehouse in Karlovy Vary, blocking distribution to retailers. Police and customs officials helped in the operation. According to an official, the lack of documentation as well as packs of unused labels (belonging to producer Likérka Drak), suggest illegal alcohol production. Samples of the spirits uncovered are being tested: the results will be known next week. Forty people in the Czech Republic died from methanol poisoning over the last six months after consuming bootleg liquor.
Patrons suffer monoxide poisoning in bar
Seven people at a bar on the outskirts of Olomouc suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in the early hours of Saturday. At around 1 am customers began complaining they were feeling ill and two fell unconscious; all seven were transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment. The accident was likely caused by chimney or flue blockage and is now under investigation. Fire fighters aired out the venue but have ordered the proprietor not to use the gas furnace until the problem is resolved.
Film award nominees to be announced on Saturday night
Nominations for the 20th inception of Český lev, the Czech Lion national film awards, will be announced at Prague’s Lucerna cinema on Saturday night. The event, which will be shown live on public broadcaster Czech Television, precedes the actual awards ceremony, which takes place in exactly a month’s time. Members of the Czech Academy of Film and Television chose from among 30 feature films and 15 documentaries that premiered in 2012.
Possible rain, turning to snow in places, is expected in the coming days. Daytime temperatures on Saturday should reach around 4 degrees Celsius, dropping to just 2 on Sunday.