A memory centre mapping the history of the community of gays, lesbians, transexuals and bisexuals in the Czech lands opened in Prague on Monday. The centre, operated by the Society for Queer Memory, houses an exhibition about the history of the Czech LGBT community offering personal stories as well as historical documents. It is divided into five themes: identity, everyday life, persecution, emancipation and literature. The aim of the organizers is to establish an institution similar to the Schwules Museum in Berlin and the QWien in Vienna.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek on Monday summoned the Russian ambassador to Prague, Sergej Kiseljov, to explain the release of a Russian propaganda film defending the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. The documentary, shown in May by the country’s public broadcaster Rossiya, claims that the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia was to protect the country against a planned attack by NATO troops. Ambassador Kiseljoov said the film did not reflect the official stand of the Kremlin. The Czech foreign minister also protested against a list of 89 European politicians and diplomats, among them four Czechs, who have been banned entry to Russia on the grounds of allegedly having taken a pro-Ukrainian stance in the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow.
The European Commission has renewed the Czech Republic’s access to EU funds from the Operational Programme for Enterprise and Innovation. All subsidies to the country were stopped in January of 2013 over serious irregularities. The decision has now been reversed in the wake of 52 audits which showed a significant improvement in management and control, Deputy Finance Minister Lukas Wagenknecht told the ctk news agency.
President Milos Zeman has said he will veto the bill on nature reserves. The president made the announcement on a visit to the South Bohemia region on Monday saying that he did not like the fact that the bill would expand the no-intervention zones in the Šumava Nature Reserve. Local mayors have also protested against the bill for fear that stricter environmental protection norms would restrict business and tourism in the area. Under Czech law the president’s veto of a bill can be overturned by the lower house.
The private rail company RegioJet is suing Czech Railways for unfair competition for having sold tickets on the Prague-Ostrava route at prices below which they could reasonably cover their costs. The company is demanding over 700 million crowns in damages. The company CEO Radim Jancura also announced RegioJets plans expand its services to Moravia and neighbouring Slovakia. Another private operator, Leo Express, has likewise sued Czech Railways for the same reason. The complaint concerns the years 2011 to 2014 when Czech Railways had a dominant position on the market.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will start interviewing candidates for the post of education minister despite the fact that President Miloš Zeman has not yet confirmed the dismissal of ongoing minister Marcel Chládek. The prime minister proposed Mr. Chládek’s dismissal last week after the daily Mladá fronta Dnes accused the minister of bullying subordinates. Other sources confirmed that the problem had been going on for some time. President Zeman said he wanted to meet with the minister on Thursday before deciding on his dismissal.
Over 1,300 people have asked for compensation in connection with the contaminated water incident in Prague 6 last week. Thirty two thousand people were left without tap water for six days and hundreds reportedly suffered health problems as a result of the contamination. The Prague Waterworks has promised to pay 5,000 crowns to all who can produce a medical certificate from the doctor confirming they had received medical treatment. The company is processing the requests.
Police report that the number of road deaths increased sharply on the last weekend of May. Eight people were killed and 18 seriously injured, the second worst weekend on record this year. The road death toll traditionally worsens on weekends with the start of the summer holidays when thousands of Czechs drive out of the big cities to their country cottages. Traffic police are now out in force at the weekends in operations intended to curb speeding and drink-driving.
The anti-corruption police has accused ten people of tax evasion and money-laundering, the ctk news agency reports. According to a police spokesman the accused imported petrol to the Czech Republic from neighbouring Austria reselling it through a series of fictitious companies and doctoring documents to avoid paying tax. They laundered the profits through fictitious operations in firms set up in the Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Cyprus. The damage to state coffers has been estimated at 785 million crowns. The accused could face up to ten years in prison.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has failed to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open. The fourth-seeded Czech was beaten in the men’s singles on Sunday by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3:6 2:6 7:6 3:6. Berdych will move down from the fourth spot in the tennis world rankings that he reached just a week before the start of the second grand-slam of the 2015 season. In women’s singles, Petra Kvitová and Lucie Šafářová are set to play for a place in the quarter-finals on Monday.