Sunday marks the 200th anniversary of birth of the pioneering Czech traveller Čeněk Paclt. Born in Turnov in east Bohemia on 14 July 1813, Paclt was the first Czech to visit all the globe’s inhabited continents. He fought with the U.S. army in the Mexican-American War and was a gold miner in India and Australia before dying in South Africa at the age of 73.
The former Czech foreign minister, TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, has suggested that the recent actions of President Miloš Zeman, who appointed an interim government despite the wishes of some parliamentary parties, represent an attempt to usurp state power. In an interview for an Austrian newspaper on Sunday, Mr. Schwarzenberg compared Mr. Zeman’s interpretation of the constitution to that of the Nazis in Germany in 1933 and the Communists in Czechoslovakia in 1948. Michal Hašek of the president’s former party the Social Democrats called for an apology from Mr. Schwarzenberg, who Mr. Zeman defeated to become head of state in an election in January.
The chairwoman of the Energy Regulatory Office, Alena Vitásková, has been provided with police protection after an attack on her while she was driving, the news website Týden.cz said. She reported that another driver had attempted to force her car off a motorway in April. The police and the secret service are investigating the incident. Under Ms. Vitásková’s leadership, the energy authority has launched extensive audits and investigated alleged inflated solar power prices; she has also been critical of a financial support for bio-fuel stations that are due to be connected the national grid next year.
MP Michal Babák of the Public Affairs party made an apparent anti-Semitic comment relating to Finance Minister Jan Fischer during a TV debate programme on Sunday. After prefacing his comments by saying they did not contain any racist allusions, Mr. Babák said that no Jew could be worse for the state coffers than Miroslav Kalousek, Mr. Fischer’s predecessor at the Ministry of Finance. The deputy had earlier said that Public Affairs would only back the interim government in a confidence vote if Mr. Fischer thoroughly explained the financing of his failed presidential campaign. In the week prior to his appointment he received over CZK 5 million in donations from sponsors, allowing him to clear campaign debts. Since then the minister has refused to discuss the matter.
Sprinter Pavel Maslák has set a new Czech record in the 200 metres. Maslák recorded a time of 20.49 seconds in the 200m final at the European Athletics Under 23 Championships in Finland’s Tampere on Saturday, a result that also secured him a bronze medal. Prior to the meeting, the 22-year-old from Havířov had a personal best of 20.59 seconds in the event.
The mayor of České Budějovice has called on residents of a district of the city which has recently seen violent anti-Romany protests to contribute to a reduction in racial tension. Juraj Thoma told Czech Radio that his office had attempted to persuade Romany leaders to encourage quieter behaviour; he said they should understand it was unpleasant for people to go to work in the morning after having to call the police at midnight because of high noise levels. On Saturday dozens of protesters were detained as they tried to enter the Romany-dominated Máj housing estate. Tensions were sparked when a fight broke at a children’s playground there last month.
The chairman of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, says it would be nonsensical to drag his party into a “war” with President Miloš Zeman. Speaking on a TV debate show, Mr. Sobotka said that would weaken the Social Democrats and was just what rival parties wished to see. The head of Mr. Zeman’s office, Vratislav Mynář, recently described Mr. Sobotka as weak for allegedly being inconsist. The latter said on Sunday that Mr. Mynář was a public servant and ought not to be politically active. While Mr. Sobotka has in the past said that the dissolution of parliament is the only way forward in the current political situation, some elements of his party believed to have closer ties to the president (who formerly headed the Social Democrats) have suggested they should consider voting for an interim cabinet backed by the president if a vote on dissolving the lower house fails next Wednesday.
Seven people were injured in the eastern city of Opava on Saturday morning when a local train crashed into a delivery truck at a level crossing without barriers. The train, which was running from Bruntál to Opava Východ, was derailed during the collision. None of the injuries are regarded as serious.
President Miloš Zeman, who chose Mr. Rusnok as interim prime minister, has invited the heads of the groups in parliament for talks at Prague Castle in a bid to win support for the government. The first such meeting should take place on July 22. A vote of confidence in the caretaker cabinet is expected on August 8. While it had initially appeared unlikely that the government could win such a vote, the parties elected to the lower house are divided on how to proceed and some Social Democrats have indicated they may give the government the nod if a vote to dissolve parliament next Wednesday is unsuccessful.
Last term’s Czech cup winners Jablonec beat league champions Viktoria Plzeň 3:2 on Friday in the Super Cup, the curtain raiser for the 2013–2014 soccer season. The result means that Jablonec coach Roman Skuhravý has already picked up two trophies since being appointed in May. This year’s Super Cup game was the fourth since the competition’s inception. The first round of the top flight season takes place next weekend.
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’