Polls have opened in the second and final round of voting on one third of the seats in the Czech Senate. The Social Democrats will gain control of the upper house for the first time if they manage to secure at least 12 of the 22 seats they are in the running for. By contrast, to retain control of the Senate, the three parties in the centre-right coalition government would need to come first in all 21 constituencies in which their candidates reached the head-to-head runoffs. Twenty-seven of the upper house’s 81 seats are being contested, with polling stations set to close at 2 pm on Saturday.
Sparta Prague drew with Lausanne in a Europa League group game in the Czech capital on Thursday night. The Czech champions had been 3:1 up after 75 minutes when the Swiss team scored twice – including one goal deep into injury time – to level the game at 3:3. Sparta remain second in the group behind CSKA Moscow. Their next game in Europe’s second tier competition is away to Lausanne on November 4.
CzechTourism has launched a new campaign aimed at attracting Roman Catholic tourists from around the world to visit religious sites in the Czech Republic. The state agency said on Friday it was working on several projects that should attract more Catholic tourists, and has issued brochures in Italian and Spanish about the country’s religious monuments. One big draw could be the 1150th anniversary in three years’ time of the arrival of the missionaries Cyril and Methodius in the Czech lands, to which Pope Benedict XVI has been invited.
Police have charged a man with kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of a nine-year-old girl in Prague last week. The man, who denies abducting Anna Janatková, has been released after a court rejected a police request that he be held on remand. The accused was arrested on Tuesday after forensic tests showed traces of his DNA on items belonging to the missing girl. The 41-year-old told police he had been at the spot where she disappeared on the day she went missing and had touched her school bag. Police are continuing to search the Prague district of Troja where the girl was last seen on October 13.
Trabant enthusiasts have been gathering for a weekend of events celebrating the East German car on the outskirts of the Czech capital. Organisers said they expected up to 150 Trabis to appear at the Trabantiáda, which is being held by the lake Džbán in Prague 6. Vehicles produced by the East German concern IFA in the communist era, such as Wartburg cars and Barkas vans, are also taking part.
The body of a three-year-old boy who went missing in Hrádek nad Nisou in north Bohemia was discovered in a river a few hundred metres from his home on Friday. Dozens of police officers and volunteers had been searching for the boy since he was reported missing a day earlier. He had been last seen playing in the garden by his home.
If the Social Democrats do manage to win control of the Senate, they could make life difficult for the cabinet of Prime Minister Petr Nečas. Acting leader Bohuslav Sobotka has said the party would block government plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. The Social Democrats would also be able to slow down, but not overturn, economic reforms and other measures planned by the coalition.
Alex Zucker has received the National Translation Award from the American Association of Literary Translators for his translation of All This Belongs to Me, the debut novel by the Czech writer Petra Hulová. Zucker, who lived in Prague in the first half of the 1990s, specialises in translating Czech authors. He has translated work by Jachým Topol, and is currently preparing the English version of a novel by the France-based Czech novelist Patrik Ouředník.
Speaking ahead of a European Union summit on economic and budgetary issues planned for the end of next week, the Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, said on Friday that he and the country’s president, Václav Klaus, shared very similar views in that area. Mr Nečas said after talks with the president at Prague Castle that the Czech government would welcome all steps aimed at getting EU members to reduce their budget deficits. However, Prague does not agree with steps to limit national sovereignty by, for instance, making governments submit draft budgets to Brussels before sending them to national parliaments, he said.
Police appear to have made a breakthrough in a week old search for a missing nine-year-old schoolgirl. They said on Thursday that they had detained a man suspected of being linked to her disappearance. At the same time, police have returned in mass to the scene of the girl’s disappearance, the Prague suburb of Troja, with digging and excavation equipment. A nationwide search for the girl, who disappeared on her way home from school on October 13, has involved up to 800 police, sniffer dogs and special heat seeking equipment. The internet news site novinky.cz said police were led to the suspect, who has a criminal record, thanks to DNA samples left on the girl’s belongings.