Many Czechs today consider the First Czechoslovak Republic a golden age in the turbulent 20th century. The country, which existed between the two world wars, is seen as the first free state of Czechs and Slovaks after centuries of Austrian rule, and one of Europe’s few democratic states of the time. But its reality, its values and conflicts often escape the popular understanding of the era. One of the First Republic’s outstanding personalities was the army general and writer Rudolf Medek who embodied some of the values of the time. In this edition
Guided tours with a difference have been launched in Prague – instead of highlighting the attractive cultural monuments favoured by the usual tour guides they put the spotlight on those examples of urban blight, dilapidation and thoughtless construction. And the ugly face of the capital’s development provides no shortage of routes.
Each of Prague’s quarters contributes to its famous diversity in its own way and offers a completely different experience. In today’s Spotlight we want to introduce you to a part of Prague that is a keystone for modern Czech cultural life, aptly dubbed by its inhabitants the “Independent Republic of Žižkov”.
Prague’s Dejvické Theatre received the annual Aflréd Radok Award for
best Czech ensemble of 2010 at a ceremony in Prague on Saturday, for the
fourth time in a row. The theatre’s staging of Man without a Past by the
Finnish author Aki Kaurismaki got the award for the performance of the
year, while the lead actor in the play, David Novotný, was given the
Alfréd Radok award for best actor. Petr Zelenka’s play Očistění, or
Vindication, which premiered at the South Bohemian Theatre in České
Budějovice, won the award for best Czech play.
Police arrest man over ammo theft
The police have arrested a civilian employee of the south Moravian police’ special response unit who allegedly stole and sold tens of thousands of ammunition rounds, a police spokeswoman said on Saturday. The man, who was arrested during a sale of part of the stole ammo, has been under investigation for several months. The spokeswoman said he was facing two years in prison.
Hundreds of gathered in the centre of Prague on Saturday in protest against the government’s planned pension reform. The overhaul of the Czech pension system is set to raise the VAT on majority of goods. The protesters also objected to plans to introduce tuition fees at Czech universities. The rally, organized by the opposition group ProAlt, was addressed by the head of the Czech unions’ federation before moving on to a march through city centre. Estimates of the number of participants vary between 200 and 1,000.
Plan for the potential renovation of Wenceslas Square were also discussed, including one initiative to tear down the historic Federal Assembly building. Mayor Svoboda said that removing the structure to fully expose the old Produce Exchange building within it was something that could be considered and that has been discussed with the Ministry of Culture, which declared it a protected cultural monument in 2000. The aesthetics of the 1974 modernist building has long been a topic of controversy, between experts who consider it an excellent work of architecture and locals who consider it an eyesore. Mr Svoboda said that specialists would have the final word in any renovation of the square and that he was not yet inclined towards any one particular plan.
Prague’s annual Matějská Fair kicks off at the Výstaviště fairgrounds in Holešovice on Saturday, one week later than usual due to cold weather. Over a hundred attractions will be on offer, from traditional fairground rides like bumper cars and carousels to an exhibition of large prehistoric animals, and numerous attractions brought there from abroad. The fair lasts until April 25..
A majority of Praguers would welcome a Constitutional Court decision invalidating the results of last autumn’s local elections, according to a new survey. The poll, conducted by the agency SANEP, suggests that 65% of Praguers are opposed to the grand coalition between the Civic and Social Democrats at City Hall, which nonetheless is a drop since December, when 80% were opposed. The Constitutional Court will be reviewing the election on March 29 at the behest of certain small parties, which are complaining that the city’s voting precincts were gerrymandered.
Prague is the sixth richest region in the whole of the European Union and clearly the wealthiest locality in Central and Eastern Europe according to figures released by the EU’s statistics. It said the region’s Gross Domestic Product reached 172 percent of the EU average. The Czech capital is only exceeded in terms of wealth by Hamburg, the Dutch city of Groeningen, Brussels, central London and Luxembourg. The poorest region in the Czech Republic straddles the Karlovy Vary and Ústi regions with an average 62 percent of EU average wealth.
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czechia now ahead of Spain in GDP per capita, but still below EU average
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Rare Terezín concentration camp artefacts found in attic of private home
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott