Experts say they expect a new record price for a Czech painting sold at auction to be set this Sunday, when Frantisek Kupka's Abstract Composition goes under the hammer in Prague. The starting price is 8.5 million crowns, but there is a good chance the work could fetch over 10 million, said auctioneer Jan Rybar, adding that it was a long time since an oil painting by Kupka had been up for sale.
The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, has described Austrian
protesters against a Czech nuclear power plant as "loonies"
("magory"). Speaking to Czech television cameras, Mr
Schwarzenberg said "knowing those loonies, they would continue
holding border blockades". This week Austrian anti-nuclear activists
would block all 16 crossings between the two states, if Vienna did not
file a lawsuit against the Czech Republic. The Austrian government has
sent a diplomatic note, saying the Czechs had not fulfilled the Melk
agreement on safety at the Temelin nuclear station in south Bohemia.
Speaking on a visit to Prague on Friday, Austrian Interior Minister Gunther Platter said his government was committed to ensuring free movement on the border, regardless of developments in the dispute over Temelin.
The supreme state attorney, Renata Vesecka, has sacked Milan Horvath as head of her office's financial crime section, after Mr Horvath lost a briefcase containing files pertaining to the case of fugitive businessman Radovan Krejcir. The briefcase was stolen from Mr Horvath's car, which had been left parked in a street in Brno last Tuesday. Two men were apprehended in possession of the documents, which they had been trying to sell to various media outlets and Mr Krejcir's lawyers. The latter is in custody in South Africa. The Czech Republic has requested his extradition so he can face several charges including conspiracy to murder.
A special police team has been formed to help the search for a 13-year-old girl who went missing from a children's home in Brno a week ago. The police say they now believe it is possible that somebody is hiding Anna, and have raided a number of homes belonging to the girl's relatives. She had been in the care of Klara Mauerova, a 30-year-old woman who is in custody on charges of severely abusing her eight-year-old son. The authorities say they have no record of Anna's existence, and there is considerable confusion over her identity and even age.
Archaeologists have discovered a meat freezer in Usti nad Labem where 17 butchers died during World War II, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. The freezer was found beneath the town's main square. The butchers are believed to have been sheltering from an Allied air raid in April 1945. The premises were hit by a bomb, but the freezer continued working and the men succumbed to ammonia poisoning after the gas was released by its damaged cooling system. Eight of the butchers were Czech; the others were from France and Belgium.
The mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, has reached the top of Mount Everest. Mr Bem, a senior figure in the Civic Democratic Party, becomes the tenth Czech to reach the world's highest peak. He is now on a two-day descent to his base camp, which experienced climbers say is the most dangerous part of the climb. Mr Bem was criticised both inside and outside his party for taking two months leave from his post as mayor of Prague.
A man committed suicide by jumping under a train in Brno on Thursday, soon after running over his wife with a car. The man, who was 43, hit his wife at high speed though her injuries have been described as not life-threatening. Police said the man evidently could not reconcile himself to his wife's demand for a divorce.
A new opinion poll suggests that most Czechs believe the government's public finance reform plan will worsen living standards in terms of health, education, and employment. According to the poll, conducted by the Factum Invenium agency this month, Czechs are pessimistic about life after retirement, fearing that pensions will be low and care of the elderly will be poor.
Hospital staff in the west Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary had to fight for the lives of patients after a power cut left them without electricity for two hours. A blackout on Wednesday night had the hospital run on emergency power for forty-five minutes when the generator suddenly failed too. Of the 300 patients in the hospital, four of them were in critical condition and doctors and nurses had to operate their medical instruments manually to keep them alive. It has yet to be determined why the generator failed.