Czech president Václav Klaus attended a mass at noon on Friday on the 1,602m high mountain of Sněžka, which borders Poland in the north of the country. The mass was also attended by hundreds of Czechs and Poles and is a traditional affair designed to celebrate the name day of the Czech Catholic St. Lawrence or Vavřinec. Construction of a new cable-car meant that the 71-year-old president had to undertake the upper part of the mountain trek on foot.
The Czech anti-corruption police have accused three people, one of whom is reportedly an employee of the Ministry of Education of seeking to manipulate a 20 million crown tender at the ministry. The tender, which has since been halted, is for the installation of a new scientific and research information system. According to police, the trio sought to influence the process in order that the current provider of a system called eProjekty, currently paid via a multi-million crown contract, was awarded the new tender too. According to Czech Radio’s Radiožurnál, which first broke the story, the Ministry of Education is standing by the unnamed employee, stating that she could not have singularly influenced such a tender by herself.
Customs officers in the central Czech town of Ústí nad Orlicí have confiscated a shipment of 1,000 pairs of counterfeit shoes, designed to pass off as being from the company Gucci. According to reports, the losses incurred for such copyright infringement is estimated at 14 million crowns. The shoes were to be imported to a distributor in Brno, who could now face a fine of up to 100,000 crowns. More than 68,000 pairs of counterfeit brand name shoes have been confiscated in this region of the Czech Republic this year alone according to ČTK.
A baby horse, or foal, said to be the great-great granddaughter of the last wild Przewalski or Asian Wild Horse subspecies to roam freely in the country, was born at Prague Zoo on Friday. The foal was born in the early hours without zoo staff present. Her mother, Hara, was born in a German zoo and gave birth to her first offspring a year ago. Prague Zoo has had Przewalski horses in its care since 1932; it has since returned two such horses to their ancestral grazing lands in the country of Mongolia. Staff at the zoo have suggested that if all goes well with its newest horse, she too could one day return to the wild in Mongolia.
Authorities in the city of Ostrava have ordered the demolition of one building in the Přívoz district ghetto, home to a community of Roma recently ordered to vacate the area. The announcement came on Friday morning with an order for the demolition of house “number 9” – one of ten in the area and described as in the worst condition – ordered to take place within 15 days for reasons that the property is in a dangerous state of disrepair. Last week, local authorities ordered Roma families in the area to evacuate the ghetto, again ostensibly for health and safety reasons, although many families have refused to do so.
A new poll released by the Meridian polling agency gives former caretaker PM Jan Fischer 34.5% support in the upcoming presidential elections to succeed Václav Klaus. Such a result would virtually guarantee Fischer progressing to the second round of voting in which only two people would vie for the public vote, the first of its kind in Czech history. The poll indicates a small increase in support for Fischer, while former PM and presidential candidate Miloš Zeman is in second place with 14% followed by 11.5% for Jan Švejnar, who ran against President Klaus in the 2008 elections, the last to be decided by parliament rather than the public. The presidential elections will be held in January 2013.
Czech competitor Barbora Špotáková has won gold in the women’s javelin throw at the Olympic Games in London. The athlete dominated in the competition: her longest throw was 69.55 metres but all four of her attempts were more than any of her nearest rivals could muster. Špotáková becomes just the third competitor in Czech Olympic history to defend their title at the Summer Olympics, a feat previously achieved only by legends Emil Zátopek and Jan Železný (Špotáková’s couch). Špotáková won her first gold four years ago in Beijing. The medal brings the Czech tally at the London games to eight.
In an interview with the newspaper Právo published on Friday, Czech police president Petr Lessy claimed that Minister of the Interior Jan Kubice was using extortion-like methods to pressure Lessy to leave his post. As one such example Lessy claimed that he was being deliberately denied bonuses equating to around a third of his expected pay. The conflict between the two officials goes back to the police president’s nomination for the post at the end of 2010, which was supported by former Interior Minister Radek John but not by current minister Kubice. Lessy made news recently when he accused Finance Minister Kalousek of exerting pressure on him in an anti-corruption investigation related to allegedly overpriced purchases of military hardware by the Ministry of Defence.
American actor Tim Robbins, star of movies such as “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Player” has reached a deal to direct a movie to be called “Wenceslas Square” about the events of the 1989 revolution that led to the downfall of communism in Czechoslovakia. The movie, to be shot in Prague, will reportedly centre around a male CIA agent and a female agent of the communist secret police known as StB, who is tasked with attempting to undermine her American counterpart. The film is based on a 2007 short story of the same name by US author Arthur Phillips. Casting for the project is set to begin later this year, with filming taking place in the spring of 2013. This will be the first fictional movie to directly and centrally dramatise the events of November 1989.
According to a new report published by Akamai, a computer analytics company measuring Internet connection speeds across the globe, the Czech Republic now has the eighth fastest Internet connection speeds in the world (7.1 Mbps). According to the study, the fastest average speeds are found in South Korea (15.7 Mbps), while the global average stands at 2.6 Mbps. Also faster than the Czech Republic are Japan, Hong Kong, Holland, Latvia, Switzerland and Ireland. The report also shows that Internet speeds in the Czech Republic have increased by about 1 Mbps in the last year.
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