According to figures published by the Ministry of Finance on Monday, in the first four months of 2010, the state budget deficit saw the highest increase it has seen during any such period in the past ten years. The deficit increased by 78.2 billion Czech crowns from January to April 2010, as compared to 55.7 billion crowns in 2009. Last week, Finance Minister Eduard Janota said that a further 16 billion crowns must be cut in order to meet the projected 163 billion crown deficit (5.3 percent of GDP) in 2010.
Police in the north Moravian city of Ostrava have charged four soccer fans with violent behavior, 119 were given a misdemeanor charge. Over 300 fans were arrested before the Sparta Prague soccer game on Sunday evening. The arrests were made after Sparta supporters made physical and verbal attacks on officers on their way to a match against Baník Ostrava. There have been tensions between the fans of both clubs for many years. After several hours, 200 of those detained on Sunday were let go and returned to Prague by train. The game ended 1:1, leaving Sparta and Baník tied on points with only three rounds of the Czech league to go; Sparta are top as they have a superior goal difference.
Prague Castle’s famous Golden Lane will be closed to the public for a year due to renovations which started on Monday. The Golden Lane’s upcoming renovation is its most extensive yet, its cost estimated at approximately 40 million Czech crowns. The lane is one of Prague Castle’s main attractions and Prague Castle Administration stands to lose about 12 million crowns in the year that the Golden Lane will be closed. Visitors have to pay admission to enter it. Some of the souvenir vendors who work in the Golden Lane suspect that Prague Castle Administration is trying to push them out of the attractive location permanently by closing it down for a year. Castle officials previously said that about a third of the vendors will not be able to return to the popular tourist site when it re-opens.
The president of the Czech Agrarian Chamber, Jan Veleba, said on Monday that Chief Hygiene Officer Michael Vít was unnecessarily alarming the public by spreading false information about untreated milk sold in vending machines across the Czech Republic. Mr Veleba said that he was considering publicly calling for the resignation of the hygiene officer. He added that because of Mr Vít’s warning regarding possible health risks, such as diarrhea, linked to the consumption of milk sold from these machines, Czech dairy farmers had seen a drop in sales. There are over a hundred milk vending machines in the Czech Republic. Their installation increased milk sales significantly last year.
Both President Václav Klaus and his predecessor in office, Václav Havel, have criticized the aggressive tone of campaigning ahead of May’s general elections. In an interview for Euro magazine, Mr. Klaus said that the campaign was full of empty slogans, foolish billboards and inappropriate personal attacks. He also warned voters against supporting newly founded parties such as TOP 09, stating that their political programs were vague and void of content. In an interview for the Týden weekly, Mr. Havel said that for most people, politics had become synonymous with something suspicious and that a shake-up in Czech politics would greatly benefit the country. He added that in the Czech Republic, such shake-ups take place with each new generation, once every twenty years. Mr. Havel himself has made it clear that he supports the Green Party in May’s general elections.
A Czech jockey was killed during a race in Brno on Sunday. Zdeněk Kaláb, who was 42, died of extensive internal injuries when the horse he was riding injured him after a fall, the director of the Dvorska racecourse, Josef Vymazal, told reporters on Monday. Kaláb was the first jockey to die at the Dvorska racecourse, which has been in operation since 1997.
The director of the Prague soccer team Bohemians 1905 has confirmed that the team will not be playing in its storied soccer stadium Ďolíček after the end of this season. The management of the Bohemians announced on Monday that it had signed a five-year contract with the owners of Prague’s modern Eden stadium, which is home to the Slavia team. The Bohemians, which have been playing at Ďolíček since 1932, will move to Eden stadium at the start of next season. Fans of the club vehemently opposed the move from Ďolíček and tried to save it with a collection. Some Slavia fans have said that they do not welcome the fact that their team will have to share its stadium with the Bohemians.
The minister of transport, Gustav Slamečka, said in an interview with the Czech daily Hospodářské Noviny on Monday that Czech Airlines’ operating costs had lead to losses of approximately four billion Czech crowns in 2008. He said that the number of passengers who travelled with Czech Airlines in that period is estimated to be about four million, which means that with each passenger, the airline suffered a loss of roughly 1000 crowns. Mr. Slamečka supported the airline’s proposed three-year restructuring plan, which the government approved on Monday. The plan seeks to cut costs by gradually changing the company into a holding company. Other cost-cutting measures include cuts in staff and the number of planes in the Czech Airlines fleet.
The American carrier Delta Airlines has announced that it is resuming its connections from Prague’s Ruzyně airport to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport on Monday. Delta Airlines flights to Atlanta will leave from Ruzyně airport four times a week, supplementing Delta’s other overseas connections from Ruzyně airport to New York. The airport’s management welcomes flights to long-distance destinations, since they are lucrative and increase the number of passengers making a connection in Prague. Delta Airlines first introduced its service between Ruzyně airport and Hartsfield-Jackson airport in 2007, but cancelled all its flights between the two cities in September of last year due to an anticipated drop in demand in the winter months. Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s biggest airport.
The head of the Prague Public Transport Company’s board said on Monday that extended nightly metro service in the Czech capital would not arrive until September. He added that the schedules of some bus lines that stop running before 1 a.m. would be extended so that people could make further connections from metro stations. The board of the Prague Public Transport Co. voted two weeks ago that it would extend services on the city’s underground rail network on Friday and Saturday nights until 1 am. Originally, the board had planned to introduce the new schedule from July 1.