Sunday is the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Narodní fronta or National Front, a grouping which served as a kind of bogus alternative to the Communist Party during the latter’s four-decade rule in Czechoslovakia. The National Front of Czechs and Slovaks was originally a coalition of democratic and anti-fascist groupings which made up the country’s first government in 1945 following the end of World War II. However, after the Communist takeover of 1948 it was turned into a puppet party under the control of the totalitarian regime.
The Czech Republic’s footballers will face title holders Spain, Scotland, Lithuania and Lichtenstein in the qualifying stages of the next European Championship in 2012. The Czech coach Michal Bílek had said he hoped to avoid the Spaniards in Sunday’s draw in Warsaw. The winners of each group will automatically for Euro 2012, which is being held in Poland and Ukraine, along with the team that comes second with the best results; the other four berths will be decided by playoffs. Qualification for the tournament begins this autumn after the World Cup in South Africa, which the Czechs failed to reach.
Prime Minister Fischer also said on Sunday that he planned to hold talks with the country’s union leaders on new rules regarding the taxation of benefits. Transport unions in particular are opposed to the change and have not ruled out strike action. Mr Fischer said the only way to get around the impasse was to send the relevant legislation back to the lower house. He also said he would discuss the matter with the minister of finance, Eduard Janota.
Prague’s Rudolfinum is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the day it was first opened to the public. The neo-Renaissance building was designed by the architects of the National Theatre Josef Schulz and Josef Zítek and was named after the Austrian crown prince Rudolf, who attended its opening on February 7, 1885. It has been used as a concert venue by the Czech Philharmonic since the orchestra’s foundation in 1896; its Dvořák Hall is named after the composer, who conducted many concerts there. The Rudolfinum is today also home to one of Prague’s leading art galleries.
Ten people have been killed on level crossings on the Czech rail network so far this year, which is around a quarter of the total number for 2009, the Czech News Agency reported. The latest victim was an 85-year-old man whose car was hit by a train running between Častolovice and Kostelec nad Orlicí in east Bohemia on Sunday. Two other people died in a similar accident on Saturday.
The Czech women’s tennis team have reached the semi-finals of the Fed Cup after beating Germany 3:2 in a World Group first round clash in the Moravian capital Brno. With the tie at 2:2 after the singles rubbers, it all came down to the final, doubles match on Sunday evening. Cheered on by the home crowd, Květa Peschkeová and Lucie Hradecká overcame Tatjana Malek and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-1 6-3 to set up a meeting with Italy for a place in the Fed Cup final.
The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, says he would regard it as an unusual step if any ministers in his caretaker cabinet stood in general elections in May. Speaking on a TV debate show on Sunday, Mr Fischer said however that such a candidature would be a “tax” for the fact his government will have been in office for considerably longer than was originally planned. There have been some suggestions that the minister of the interior in the interim cabinet, Martin Pecina, could stand for the Social Democrats. They and the county’s other main party the Civic Democrats agreed on the make-up of what was billed as a caretaker government of technocrats. It took office last May after the fall of the previous Civic Democrat-led cabinet and was due to guide the country until snap elections in October. However, a legal challenge led to Mr Fischer’s government staying in power until this coming spring, when the lower house’s four-year term comes to an end.
Marek Najbrt’s Protector and 3 Seasons in Hell by Tomáš Mašín have both been nominated in 11 out of a possible 12 categories in the Český lev or Czech Lion national film awards. Kawasaki’s Rose by Jan Hřebejk is in the running for nine prizes. The nominations were announced on Saturday night at a ceremony at Prague’s Lucerna cinema that was broadcast live on Czech Television. The winners will be announced at Lucerna’s Grand Hall in a month’s time.
The Czech ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr will be fit for the start of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. After he was taken off after the first period of a game for his club Omsk on Friday there were reports in the Russian media that he had sustained a groin injury. However, Jágr told the newspaper Sport that he had merely felt weak because of a stomach virus, adding that he would likely be able to play for Omsk again on Sunday in what will be the club’s last game before the Olympic break.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has begun a three-day visit to Egypt. On Sunday evening he will take part in an event marking the launch of the Czech-made Škoda Superb car on the Egyptian market. Mr Klaus will meet the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Monday, as well as taking part in a signing of the Arabic version of his book Blue Planet in Green Shackles, which questions the belief that mankind is responsible for global warming. On the last day of his visit the Czech president will hold talks with both Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and the general secretary of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. It is Mr Klaus’s second visit to Egypt.