The Czech women’s tennis team has defeated Russia to win the Fed Cup for the first time in 23 years. The advantage in the world group final went back and forth over the weekend, with Petra Kvitová putting the Czechs ahead in the first game on both days at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow. Lucie Šafářova lost the second match on both Saturday and Sunday, however, allowing the tournament to be decided by a doubles match between Czechs Květa Peschkeová and Lucie Hradecká and Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina representing the home team. The final score was 6:4, 6:2.
The Czech electricity and gas market operator reports that the number of clients switching energy providers in the country is continually rising due to the high cost of electricity. More than 660,000 clients changed providers in the first ten months of the year, more than double the number for the whole of 2010. The RWE Transgas, E.ON and Pražská plynárenská have raised theitr gas prices several times this year, in some cases by more than 10%. Electricity prices also grew this year and are expected to rise again in 2012 by around 4.3%. Most of the migrating clients have been housholds.
Leading coalition MPs say Parliament’s rules of procedure should be changed to preclude filibustering. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Petr Gazdík of TOP 09 and Zbyněk Stanjura of the Civic Democratic party said such a change could be made within a matter of months. Constitutional lawyer Jan Kysela told the programme that a model for change could be found in Germany, where the time allowed to parties for speeches would be derived from their number of seats in Parliament. The lower house of the Czech Parliament has been deadlocked since Tuesday as left-wing opposition MPs obstruct the passage of fifteen coalition reform bills returned by the Senate. Right-wing parties have also availed themselves of the option of filibustering in the past, most recently at the beginning of last year.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech suffered a broken nose in a Chelsea match at Blackburn on Saturday. Concerns that the injury could jeopardise the star player’s participation on the Czech team in the upcoming playoff game against Montenegro for qualification in the European championships were allayed by his representative, the company Sport Invest, which said they expect he will be in Prague for a pre-game meeting on Monday. Čech collided with a teammate accidentally in the ninth minute of the game; after a long examination he played out the rest of the match.
The percentage of entrepreneurs among those contributing to the national economy in the Czech Republic is the fifth highest in the EU, according to an analysis conducted by the Czech Statistical Office. That number reached 17% in the second quarter of 2011, with the vast majority of private businessmen consisting of entrepreneurs without employees. Only Greece, Italy, Poland and Romania have a higher share, with the latter two countries’ result heavily influenced by the high number of private agriculturalists.
Heavy smog conditions in municipalities across the Czech Republic that have persisted since last Tuesday worsened overnight on Sunday. The hardest-hit area is that of Moravia-Silesia, where seven localities reported dust levels in excess of 100 micrograms per cubic metre, some double that amount. Excessive smog rates have also been reported however in South Moravia, Central Bohemia, in the Pardubice-Hradec Králové area and in Prague. The permissible limit of dust per cubic metre is 50mcg.
Health care unions in the Visegrad group countries intend to join forces in new alliance. Union leaders from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary attending a two-day meeting in Budapest said their aim would be to improve the working conditions for health care workers and to increase pressure on their governments to achieve that goal. The new federation wants the wages of young doctors to reach 1.5 times the average wage and three times the average for specialists.
A replica of the first Czech long-haul aircraft completed a 120km trip from Pardubice to Prague on Saturday, marking the 100 years since the first such flight by aviator Jan Kašpar. Pilot Petr Mára originally intended to repeat the famous feat on its anniversary, May 13, but was impeded by strong winds. The replica Blériot can fly for roughly an hour and a half but requires an almost complete absence of wind and clouds and keeps an altitude of about 500 metres.
Police are investigating a ten-million-crown public order awarded by the Defence Ministry that they believe was assigned illegally. The daily Právo writes that Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra approved an auditing commission for the consultation firm KPMG last summer without a public tender and without publication of the fact – an option legally allowed only under extreme circumstances. According to documents that the newspaper claims to possess, the ministry acted on the commission in spite of warnings from its lawyers that the deal would be in contravention of the law. By law, all public commissions worth more than two million crowns must be arranged through a public tender.
Czech and Slovak foreign ministries have agreed to provide mutual consular services for each other’s citizens and visa applicants. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and his Slovak counterpart Mikuláš Dzurinda signed the agreement with the aim of easing problems for tourists and decreasing costs for both countries’ consulates. Czech embassies in six countries will represent Slovakia, while Slovakia will do the same in Kenya. Similar treaties are in place with other countries.
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Rare Terezín concentration camp artefacts found in attic of private home
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott