In related news, local employment bureaux have issued approximately 1,280 relief payments to families in areas struck by floods; hundreds of unemployed people also volunteered to help in clean up operations. The news was revealed on Wednesday by the spokesman for the central employment office Jiří Reichl. People whose property was lost or badly damaged in the recent floods can apply for immediate help of up to 51,150 crowns. The spokesman noted that a number of towns and villages had signed agreements with employment bureaux covering publically-beneficial work.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, the leader of the TOP 09 party, has expressed support for fellow party member Tomáš Hudeček, suggesting he would be a suitable candidate for the post of Prague mayor. He made the comment in an interview for financial daily Hospodářské noviny. Other sources have reported he also has broader backing among the party. Until recently, two others Jiří Vávra and Václav Novotný were considered favourites for the job. Mr Hudeček has been acting mayor in the capital since the collapse of the coalition between TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats. Last month Bohuslav Svoboda, who was mayor for 2.5 years, was dismissed alongside other Civic Democrat councillors. A new mayor and new council are expected to be elected next week; TOP 09’s Prague branch is continuing negotiations with the opposition Social Democrats.
This year’s Pavel Koutecký Award for best Czech documentary has been won by Pavel Abrahám with Dva Nula (Two Nil), which focuses on fans at a soccer match featuring Sparta Prague. The presentation was made at a ceremony at Prague’s Archa theatre on Tuesday evening. In all over 100 documentaries were considered for the prize, with the winner selected from a shortlist of 10. Pavel Koutecký was a filmmaker who died in 2006 at the age of 50, halfway through the making of Citizen Havel, a portrait of the late president that subsequently became a great success.
Regions in the Czech Republic recently hit by floods have begun tabulating the damage costs. So far, damage to infrastructure and property across 25 municipalities in Plzeň has been estimated at 47.9 million crowns. The figure, however, is preliminary and appears likely to go up. Municipalities have also begun filing for financial relief so far counting 3.7 million. Beroun, not far from the capital, has been tabulating the damage to roads and bike paths, so far estimated at 30 million crowns. The overall figure for total damages there, however, is expected to increase considerably: between 200 and 300 million. Fifty million crowns, meanwhile, is being drawn by the region of Ústí in north Bohemia to be used for clean-up operations and repairs. The figure is not final: the regional governor pointed out it was around a ‘seventh’ of total funds which will be required.
Almost 50 percent of Czechs have expressed dissatisfaction with Miloš Zeman 100 days into his presidency, according to a new poll by the STEM/MARK agency. The results were released by Czech TV. Respondents graded the head-of-state, the first in the Czech Republic elected directly by the people, in a number of areas. Those who were critical towards the president, for example, found fault with his behaviour at a recent ceremony in which the crown jewels were put on display: three-quarters of those questioned said they did not believe he was ill but under the influence of alcohol. The president on Tuesday denied he had been drunk. Forty-nine percent of those questioned disapprove of the president, while 51 percent are in favour, according to the poll.
The Stanley Cup finals begin later on Wednesday, pitting the Boston Bruins (with Czech players David Krejčí and future hall-of-famer Jaromír Jágr) against the Chicago Blackhawks. The first two games take place in the Windy City. The Chicago Blackhawks have Michael Frolík and Michal Rozsíval on their roster, so regardless of which team wins, the feted cup, as is custom, will travel to the Czech Republic later this year. Members of the winning team are each ‘unofficially’ allowed to borrow the trophy for a day.
The number of inhabitants in the Czech Republic dropped by 3,300 people in the first three months of this year, the Czech Statistical Office revealed Wednesday. According to the bureau, the population number currently stands at 10,512,800; during the three-month period, deaths outnumbered births. Compared to the first quarter in 2012, however, both the birth and mortality rates went down, as did the number of abortions and weddings. By contrast, the number of Czechs getting divorced went up. More than 6,500 marriages ended in divorce, up by 400 cases from a year ago.
The TOP 09 minister of culture, Alena Hanáková, is to be replaced by Jiří Hlaváč, a former deacon of the Faculty of Music and Dance at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts, the new website iDnes.cz reported on Tuesday, referring to a government source. There has been speculation for some time about the future of the minister, who has been criticised by some in the arts world.
The minister of health, Leoš Heger, says his officials will carry out free tests of water in wells in areas that have been affected by flooding. Mr. Heger told Czech Radio that the Ministry of Health was earmarking millions of crowns for analyses of water quality. People have been told to pump out all remaining water and remove mud before having their wells tested. Almost 3,000 wells were inundated during the recent flooding.
The creator of the country’s annual film industry awards ceremony, Petr Vachler, says he will not hand the rights to the Czech Lions to the Czech Film and Television Academy. Mr. Vachler said the CZK 10 million that the Academy had offered to pay him for the rights over a period of a decade was insufficient. He said he was not fixated on retaining control of the brand and was chiefly concerned with the Czech Lions continuing, adding that he hoped to reach a compromise on the matter.
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