There has been a steady increase in the number of women serving prison sentences, according to Thursday’s edition of the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. The paper writes that while in 2001 the country had 789 women convicts there are now more than double that number. The vast majority of them are in jail for financial transgressions such as credit fraud and a vicious circle of debt. Experts say that many women get into serious trouble as a result of widespread financial illiteracy.
On the eve of Independence Day, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra bestowed over thirty medals and decorations on the country’s WWII heroes, veterans from Afghanistan, athletes and cultural figures. Among those decorated were Jiri Gruntorad, signatory of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto, documentary film director Kristyna Vlachova and Alois Denemark, 91, who cooperated with the Anthropoid resistance group that prepared the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Reich-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. Denemark is now the only living witness of the event.
Culture Minister Jiří Besser has assured the Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl that a church property restitution bill being prepared by the centre-right government will not breach the date of February 25, 1948. That is a cut-off date for the restitution of property in the Czech Republic – historically related to the putsch that saw the Communist Party assume power in Czechoslovakia. The agriculture minister expressed concern about a section in the prepared legislation which theoretically could pave the way for the return of 20,000 hectares of forestland to a former Christian order known as the Order of German Knights. The prepared legislation, based on parameters set in talks between the Church and the state, is to be presented to the government by the end of October.
Former striker Roman Kukleta – who earned four caps with Czechoslovakia’s national football team in 1991 – and played for clubs like Sparta Prague, Brno and Betis Seville, has died at the age of 46. News site idnes reported that last weekend the former player was to have shot a promotional clip for Brno’s football team, Boby Brno, but had to cancel due to illness. He was hospitalised a day later and on Wednesday died from organ failure. As a player Kukleta scored 58 goals in the top flight, playing in 153 matches.
The tender on the expansion of the Czech Republic’s Temelín nuclear power plant will be the main topic discussed in a meeting between Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas and US President Barack Obama in Washington on Thursday. According to the Czech news agency, ČTK, America is hoping to reemphasise a strong interest in the contract, worth hundreds of billions of crowns. The US-based firm Westinghouse is competing against two other bidders in the tender. The visit by Mr Nečas to the White House on Thursday could also show new progress in Czech-American ties following the US abandonment of an advance warning radar in the Czech Republic, pursued by the previous administration. Meetings with past Czech prime ministers Mirek Topolánek and Vladimír Špidla were dominated by security issues, ČTK noted, while now economic matters have come to the fore.
A dilapidated 19th century building named after original owner Václav Šlechta and located in Prague’s Stromovka Park will not see planned renovation this year, ČTK has reported. The building, which once housed a restaurant, has been boarded up in a state of disrepair for years – first gutted by a fire in 1980 and then hit by flooding in 2002. Under former plans the historic site was to have been saved and completely renovated by September 2012 at the cost of 180 million crowns. According to the Czech news agency, it is now apparent that Prague City Hall has allocated some of the needed budget to a separate project, meaning the reconstruction of the Stromovka site will be stalled. The agency also reports that the city has yet to sign an agreement with a contractor.
The Communist Party has failed to push through a proposal in the lower house which would have capped pre-election campaign spending by political parties. The bill was rejected by coalition MPs who are reportedly preparing legislation of their own aiming to make campaign financing more transparent. The Communists had been seeking to limit pre-election spending in senatorial and national campaigns to 50 million crowns and regional election campaigns to 20 million, while introducing penalties for transgression. Civic Democrat Marek Benda criticised the Communist Party proposal as “unbaked”. The head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, said it shared a common aim with government plans.
Author Daniela Hodrová has been named the laureate for this year’s state prize for literature for her latest novel Vyvolávání and also previous work. Martin Hilský received the state for prize for his translations of works by Shakespeare. The results were announced on Wednesday. Jury head Vladimír Novotný praised Ms Hodrová work, saying long intervals between publication (not publishing four books a year) showed her dedication and ‘aesthetic responsibility’.
Wenceslas Square in the Czech capital will hold car-free days again next year after holding a trial run last month on September 18. The event was held during the middle of European Mobility Week and car traffic on Prague’s most famous square was stopped for several hours. The mayor of Prague 1, Oldřich Lomecký, told journalists on Wednesday that officials at Prague’s 1’s town hall, business owners and others had registered the event as a success and that next year such days could be held once per month from April – October. Mr Lomecký said on Wednesday that in recent years Wenceslas Square lacked ‘purpose’, suggesting that events like the Christmas market helped revitalise the space. During the Christmas period stalls are set up at the bottom of the square, already set aside for pedestrians.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová got off to a good start in her first match in the Red Group at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, defeating opponent Vera Zvonareva in straight sets. The Czech player, who triumphed at Wimbledon this year, won 6:2, 6:4. Afterwards, she admitted she had been nervous ahead of her first-ever match in the WTA Championships. In her group she also faces Caroline Wozniak, and Agnieszka Radwanska: the two best players will face the two best from the White Group in the semifinals.
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czech pop music legend Karel Gott dies at the age of 80
Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott