The renowned campaigner against alcohol dependency Jaroslav Skala has died at the age of 91. Dr Skala established a support group for alcoholics and treatment centre in Prague in the late 1940s, before in 1951 opening what has been described as the world’s first sobering-up station for the inebriated.
Two film producers have received suspended sentences from a court in Prague for attempting to blackmail producer Deana Jakubiskova-Horvathova by taking a copy of the film Bathory, directed by her husband Juraj Jakubisko. Jan Milic and Karel Lupomesky demanded half a million crowns from the couple for the return of the film after stealing it from an editing suite at Prague’s Barrandov studios. The Jakubiskos, who are Slovak, are now planning to file a civil suit for damages against the blackmailers.
The Prague Town Hall was wrong to ban a demonstration by opponents of a planned US radar base on Czech territory, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled. Officials said they prohibited the march by the group No to Bases because it would cause traffic problems in the capital. However, the court said the Town Hall failed to prove that constituted an “exceptional reason” required to ban a demonstration. The march went ahead on September 11 last year, despite the fact the organisers did not receive a permit.
Slavia Prague will face Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League on Tuesday night without two of their most important players, captain Stanislav Vlcek and the experienced Vladimir Smicer. Both are injured. Slavia beat the Romanians in Prague and have four points from four games in Group H, whereas Steaua have none. Third place would guarantee Slavia a place in the latter stages of the UEFA Cup and spell that rare phenomenon – a Czech club in European action after Christmas.
Sales of Czech-made Pilsner Urquell beer have almost doubled in the United Kingdom this year, according to a spokesperson for the brewery. Jiri Marecek said its owners, SAB Miller, had invested in a large advertising campaign for Pilsner Urquell in the UK and it had paid off. Great Britain is the fifth biggest importer of the famous Czech beer; Germany is its most significant market outside the Czech Republic.
The Czech tractor maker Zetor is hoping to triple production in the next five years. The company is hiring 300 new employees after increasing production capacity at its Brno plant, and plans to roll out 15,000 tractors a year. The majority owner of Zetor, the Slovak group HTC, has daughter companies which sell its tractors in Poland, Ireland, Germany and other states. Ninety percent of its exports go to the EU.
The incumbent Vaclav Klaus would defeat Jan Svejnar if there were a direct vote for president, suggests a poll carried out for the SC&C agency for the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes. Sixty-three percent of respondents in the mid-November poll said they would vote for President Klaus if they could. On Wednesday his party the Civic Democrats are set to nominate Mr Klaus officially. Jan Svejnar, a US-based economist backed by the opposition Social Democrats and the Greens, is still seeking support for his possible candidature from other parties. Both houses of the Czech Parliament will vote on the next president at the beginning of February.
The Czech Republic has been drawn alongside its neighbour Slovakia in qualifying for World Cup 2010. Also in the Czech Republic’s group – group 3 – are Poland, Slovenia, Northern Ireland and San Marino. The Czech press has reacted to the draw by calling the group ‘manageable’ and identifying the Poles as the Czech Republic’s biggest threat. Only the outright winner of the group is guaranteed to go through to the World Cup, which will be held in South Africa in 2010. On Sunday, the preliminary draw for the qualifying stage of the competition was held in Durban.
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