The latest to announce their interest in running for the post of president, tattooed composer and artist Vladimír Franz launched a website on Thursday dedicated to a potential bid. Like all candidates not officially backed by a set number of MPs or senators in Parliament, he will have to obtain 50,000 public signatures to officially run. One of those to have already fulfilled the requirement is former Social Democrat prime minister Miloš Zeman, who opinion polls have put in second place behind early ‘front-runner’ Jan Fischer, himself a former prime minister who headed an interim government in 2009.
The ex-wife of former trade and industry minister Martin Kocourek has withdrawn a lawsuit against her ex-husband in which she had been seeking eight million crowns he allegedly concealed during their divorce. The amount was half of funds Mr Kocourek hushed up so they would not fall within their divorce settlement. Olga Kocourková’s lawyer said her client had decided to settle personal matters outside of the courtroom. The development will likely impact an additional charge against Martin Kocourek and his mother in May of damaging a creditor, carrying a possible sentence of up to eight years in prison. The daily Právo reported recently that the police had recommended the case be dropped.
Doctors are warning that exposure to the sun this summer has been as intense in the Czech Republic as in Croatia or northern Italy, due to the weakening of the ozone layer. On Thursday, the head of the Czech Dermatological Society Petr Arenberger warned the public not to underestimate the risk of skin cancer and to take proper precautions when in the sun. The Czech Republic sees an average of 2,000 new melanoma cases annually and skin cancer makes up one quarter of tumour cases. According to specialists, burns from overexposure to UV rays in childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. Women up to the age of 29 are considered at higher risk, as are men over the age of 50.
The Social Democrats have rejected criticism comparing the language on one
of its election billboards to anti-Semitic and anti-clerical rhetoric used
during the Third Reich in Nazi Germany and later by the Czech Communists.
In a joint-statement, the head of the Czech Bishops’ Conference Cardinal
Dominik Duka, the chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Jiří
Daníček, and the chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Joel
Ruml, suggested that those who remembered the previous periods “would
be fooled” by the Social Democrats’ use of words. The Social Democrat
billboard in question opposes church property restitution supported by the
right-wing parties in government, the Civic Democrats and TOP 09.
Social Democrat deputy chairman Lubomír Zaorálek said the statement by Cardinal Duka and colleagues was “unacceptable” and he slammed the Cardinal saying he needed to read up on his World War II history. Mr Zaorálek also countered that while a number of Social Democrats had “laid down their lives” in the fight against Nazism, the Church’s role during the same period was ambiguous.
The anti-corruption police have proposed that five people be charged in connection with Prague’s Open Card system who are suspected of having violated the law on several counts, including that they signed disadvantageous contracts that resulted in damages of around 70 million crowns; police spokeswoman Pavla Kopecká issued the statement on the unit’s website. If the case against the five went to trial, and the suspects were found guilty, they could face up to eight years in prison. In related news, the head of the country’s anti-corruption police, Tomáš Martinec, revealed not long ago in an interview for financial daily Hospodářské noviny that important documents related to the case had been shredded at City Hall during the tenure of controversial former mayor Pavel Bém.
The Road and Motorway Directorate has requested Prague City Hall to allow a highway entrance ramp at Dolní Březany onto the Prague ring road to be opened earlier, even though related construction goals have not yet been met. In order for the move to go ahead, City Hall will have to modify zoning and construction permits.
The Czech Republic is the second most atheist country in the world, according to a new survey tracking international trends in faith. The WIN-Gallup International network of opinion pollsters found that the most ‘convinced atheists’ were in Japan, at 31%, followed by the Czech Republic at 30% and France at 29%. Compared with 2005, the poll recorded a nine-point drop in religiosity worldwide, or amongst the 57 countries surveyed. The greatest change was noted in Vietnam, where the communist government has, in recent years, variably tolerated and harassed different religious groups, and in traditionally Catholic Ireland, where only 47% said they were ‘religious’ - a 22-point drop from the 69% recorded seven years ago. The Czech Republic has long been rated the most non-religious country in Europe, followed by Estonia. Domestic polls from last year put the percentage of people with religious tendencies at roughly 35%.
The police have revealed that they caught 300 more motorists driving under the influence of drugs in Q1 than during the same period last year. In 2012, they caught 2,500 people who had gotten ‘high’ behind the wheel. The head of the Traffic Police Leoš Tržil said on Thursday that the issue mostly concerned motorists between the ages of 18 and 40. The dean of the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University, Tomáš Zima, has suggested the real numbers were probably high even before, but that the police had now heavily intensified their focus on drug-users. Most of those on drugs behind the wheel were either on marijuana or pervetin (methamphetamine).
New foreigners’ law to change conditions for non-EU nationals
Czech rock climber Adam Ondra knocked out of World Cup in Japan
Czech foreign ministry reports record number of visa applications
New index shows locations with best quality of life in Czech Republic
Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib on tourism, China, Taiwan – and city’s two tanks