The first prize from the Waldviertel Academy in Austria was awarded to the Czech writer and former dissident Pavel Kohout for his long-time contributions to improving Austro-Czech relations. The 84-year-old novelist, playwright and poet was expelled from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1969 and became one of the main initiators and signatories of the dissident document Charter 77. In 1979 he was not allowed to return to Czechoslovakia after a visit to Austria, where he remains to this day.
District court in Prague will hear another request for release on Monday from the jailed former governor of Central Bohemia David Rath. The court will decide whether the defendant can be released from jail pending trial in exchange for bail payment and written affidavits, and will set the amount of bail. Mr. Rath’s girlfriend, father and mother of one of his children offered to pay half a million Czech crowns each for his release. Written guarantees were offered by 30 people, including Norbert Badal, personal secretary to cardinal Dominik Duka. Mr. Rath, who was arrested in May on corruption charges, spent three month under stricter regime confinement, to avoid possible influencing of witnesses. Currently, the former governor remains in jail with more lenient visitation and communication rules, because of fears of flight or continuation of illegal activities expressed by the prosecution.
This year saw a considerable rise in the sale of electronic books and e-book readers in the Czech Republic. According to the internet server Huereka.cz, the number of e-books sold in July 2012 saw a year-on-year increase of 43%. E-books now make up one percent of all books sold in the Czech Republic, compared to 0.03% last year. The most popular genres of books downloaded in electronic form in Czech are fantasy and detective fiction. The increasing popularity of e-book readers in the country is partly due to their quickly decreasing prices. The average price for an e-book reader fell by a third from last year, to 3,049 Czech crowns, while for an e-book it is 169 crowns, according to Huereka.cz.
On Sunday, a ceremony commemorating the Romani victims of Nazi persecution during World War II took place in the town of Hodonín u Kunštátu in central Moravia. The ceremony was held on an anniversary of the largest transports of Roman to Auschwitz. Around 1400 Moravian Roma were interned at the so-called “Gypsy camp” in Hodonín in the years 1942-43. Three hundred of them died at the camp, while the others were sent to the death camps in Auschwitz. A memorial will be erected in Hodonín u Kunštátu most likely in August 1916 in commemoration of Romani victims. After the war, the Hodonín camp was used to intern Germans who could not be deported from Czechoslovakia, in accordance with the Beneš decrees, because of health problems or old age. And later briefly served as a Communist forced labour camp for political prisoners.
The Czech National Bank (CNB) will possibly lower its outlook for economic development this year, said a member of the bank’s governing board Lubomír Lízal on a Czech Television talkshow on Sunday. CNB’s August forecast estimated a 0.9 % fall of GDP in 2012. But Mr. Lizal said economic performance this year is actually worse than the CNB expected, and the forecast may have to be revised to reflect that. At the same time the CNB expects an economic revitalisation to begin at the end of the year and is predicting 0.8% expansion of the Czech economy in 2013.
Czech meteorologists warn of tropical weather coming to the Czech Republic on Sunday. High temperatures, going possibly up to 40 degrees Celsius, will last into next week. Authorities are warning against possible forest fires and urging people to stay well hydrated and limit exposure to direct sunlight to avoid health problems.
The Czech Foreign Ministry expressed deep concern over the decision of the Moscow court on Friday to sentence three members of the punk group Pussy Riot to two years in prison. The ministry was surprised that an act that was not damaging to either health or property received such a strict punishment. In a statement, the ministry underscored not only the length of the sentence the defendants received, but also the fact that they were held in prison for over five months before sentencing.
The number of self-employed people in the Czech Republic grew in the first half of 2012 by 10 thousand, bringing the total number to over 1.012 million people, compared to 1.002 million last December, according to figures from the Czech Social Security Administration. However the number of the self-employed paying for social and health insurance decreased by 6 thousand and 15 thousand respectively. Most self-employed people are residing in Prague, the Central Bohemia and the Moravian-Silesian regions. Companies with one to two employees make up 95% of all business in the Czech Republic.
The second gay Pride Parade took place in the Czech capital on Saturday, with thousands taking part. Organizers estimate that this year’s parade drew even more attendees and onlookers than last year, when the estimated participation was 8,000 people. Parade participants walked from Wenceslas square to Střelecký island accompanied by floats with music and dancers. Festival organizers said that their Facebook account was hacked on Friday night and false information about changes in the schedule was sent out to fans. But the event went ahead without any glitches. A few dozen supporters of the conservative group D.O.S.T. came to Wenceslas square to protest the event before the start of the parade. And some members of the Young Christians walked with the parade carrying signs and sometimes chanting slogans that were offensive to homosexuals, but no serious conflicts were reported. A number of political and public figures showed support for Prague Pride, including presidential candidate and vice-chairman of the Social Democratic party Jiří Dienstbier, members of the Green Party, Young Social Democrats and the U.S. Embassador to the Czech Republic Norman Eisen. The Prague Pride festival will finish on Sunday with an ecumenical service and a number of afternoon events.
New foreigners’ law to change conditions for non-EU nationals
Czech foreign ministry reports record number of visa applications
Restaurant tells visitors to “clear their plates” or pay a 50 crown fine for wasting food
New index shows locations with best quality of life in Czech Republic
Archaeologists unearth rare Renaissance-Baroque brew house in ‘Czech Paradise’