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.
A 52-year-old Prague man has been taken into psychiatric care after releasing gas in his apartment with a view to committing suicide. He phoned a helpline on Friday evening saying he was expecting to die once an explosion took place. However, his actions could have threatened the lives of the other residents in his building in the Břevnov district. The police and rescue workers managed to get to him before an explosion occurred.
Former prime minister Petr Nečas has confirmed speculation that he is involved in a romantic relationship with his erstwhile chief of staff Jana Nagyová. She is in custody on charges relating to corruption and ordering illegal spying on Mr. Nečas’s estranged wife and was at the centre of a scandal that led to the fall of his government last month. The ex-PM told the newspaper Právo that he stands by Ms. Nagyová and foresees a future with her. He himself was questioned on Friday by the police, who say he secured lucrative positions for former MPs for his party in exchange for political favours; their case hinges on whether that amounted to corruption.
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.
An anti-Romany demonstration scheduled to take place in the south Bohemian city of České Budějovice on Saturday afternoon was called off at the last moment. The organisers, who had originally said they expected around 1,000 participants, evidently decided to abandon the protest when it became clear turnout would be far lower. Later in the day an estimated 300 people gathered near a children’s playground in a district of České Budějovice largely populated by Romanies where tensions first broke out; they attempted to breach a police cordon but were outnumbered.
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