Ondřej Liška was re-elected leader of the Green Party at the party’s weekend conference in the town of Česká Třebová on Saturday. The party’s old-new leader clashed with his main rival for the post former party head Martin Bursík over the party’s direction. While Mr. Bursík stressed that the Greens should fight to regain lost voters on the right of the Czech political spectrum Ondřej Liška argued there were no potential allies right of centre who would help implement the Green’s policy programme. He stressed the need to address the young generation which is generally receptive to green issues and build up a strong support base. The Greens were relegated to the sidelines of Czech politics after failing to cross the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house in the 2010 general elections.
The world-famous opera diva Anna Netrebko charmed Prague opera lovers on Friday night with a concert performance of Tchaikovsky’s lyrical opera Jolanta. The Smetana Hall of Prague’s Obecni dum was packed for the event and Ms. Netrebko got a ten-minute standing ovation for her first ever performance in the Czech Republic. The concert was billed as one of the highlights of this year’s music scene and was hopelessly sold out months in advance.
Clean-up work continues west of Kolín where a Czech-made L-159 fighter jet crashed in a field on its way back to base from a training session on Thursday evening. A defense ministry spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that the plane’s black box had been located and most of the debris from the jet had been assembled and transported to the military technical institute for inspection. Soldiers remain at the site of the accident and are still combing it for small parts with the help of metal detectors. The investigation which is to ascertain the cause of the accident may take weeks.
Nine people have been arrested in a police raid on the Heřmanice prison house in Ostrava. Officers have been searching the premises and questioning employees since Friday night. The director of the prison house said he was fully cooperating with the authorities but refused to provide any details. According to the daily Právo the raid is linked to the suspect business activities of several prison guards who may have assisted in scam practices at a nearby scrap metal yard where prisoners from the jailhouse are employed. In view of the ongoing investigation the police have not released any details on the case.
Three candidates for the presidential race – Jana Bobošíková, Vladimír Dlouhý and Tomio Okamura – have been disqualified by the Interior Ministry for having failed to meet the requirements. The ministry said on Friday that the three candidates failed to submit the required 50,000 signatures in support of their candidacy. The disqualified candidates may contest the ministry’s decision in court. Eight candidates are now left in the race including three – senators Jiří Dienstbier and Přemysl Sobotka and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg – who were nominated by MPs or senators and did not therefore need to present any signatures to run for the post. Former prime minister Jan Fischer has topped the polls so far, followed by another ex-prime minister Miloš Zeman.
The Ústí region, in the north of the country, will push for the lifting of government-imposed limits on coal mining, the region’s governor Oldřich Bubeníček, of the Communist Party, said on Friday. Mr Bubeníček said this could save hundreds of jobs in the region, but added that an agreement between mining firms and the affected municipalities was needed before any decision on the issue is taken. Limits on coal mining were imposed in 1991 to protect the environment in northern Bohemia and other areas devastated mainly by surface mining of lignite.
Three different rates of the value added tax could be in place in January 2013 due to a possible delay in approving the government’s tax legislation, the Czech branch of the advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said on Friday. If the process of approving the tax package is delayed, a single VAT rate of 17.5 would come into force on January 1. This will be replaced by two rates of 15 and 21 percent, respectively when the government legislation comes into effect later in the month. This would be an unprecedented situation for the country’s businesses and firms, PwC said.
Two of the three presidential candidates whom the Interior Ministry disqualified from running in January’s presidential election said they would contest the ministry’s decision in court. Jana Bobošíková announced she would continue her campaign until a court verdict confirms her disqualification. Meanwhile, Vladimír Dlouhý said she would appeal to the country’ Supreme Administrative Court to make sure the number of invalid signatures in his support was calculated correctly. The third candidate barred from running, Tomio Okamura, said he would consult his lawyers and announce his decision next week.
Arsenal FC and Czech international midfielder Tomáš Rosický could appear in a league game next week, after a five month absence caused by injury. Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger said the 32-year-old Czech footballer should be back with the team on Monday, a week after he resumed training with the team. Tomáš Rosický injured his Achilles tendon during the European championships in June. Next week, Arsenal plays Everton and Swansea in the Premier League.
Dozens of international trains face delays following an accident on the Czech Republic’s major railway route. The accident occurred shortly before 5 PM on Friday when a train hit man on the railway line near Pardubice. Czech Railways said the line should be reopened at 7:30 PM; in the meantime, dozens of express trains connecting Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia via Prague will be detoured and delayed. Several local trains have been cancelled.
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