The Prague 7 town council has filed a complaint at the Constitutional Court on Friday over the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court instructing the council to hold a public referendum on the location of the council seat. Results of the referendum should answer four questions about how the location of the new seat of the council should be selected. The Supreme Administrative Court ordered the referendum on the basis of a legal complaint brought by residents who were concerns about the over-priced plans for a new council building. The council claims that holding the referendum would threaten its right to self-government.
Some 240 people are taking part on Wednesday in the 66th edition of the Alfréd Nikodém Memorial, an annual winter swim in the Vltava River in Prague. This year, swimmers from Slovakia, Poland, the UK and Germany also participated in the event which takes place near the National Theatre building in the centre of the capital. The swim is named after Prague winter swimmer Alfréd Nikodém who established the tradition in 1923.
The police have charged the owner of two night clubs in central Prague, along with 14 other people, with organizing prostitution, a spokesman for the organized crime unit of the police said on Friday. The police said the people worked as an organized group that for several years profited from prostitution they organized in the clubs, located in Prague’s unofficial red-light district off the central Wenceslas Square. The charges were raised following a raid the clubs which took place last month. All the accused are Czech citizens; however, the 46-year-old alleged head of the group reportedly lives in Thailand. If convicted, the 15 people could be sentenced to ten years in prison.
The Dalai Lama is set to attend a Forum 2000 conference in Prague next September, the organisers have announced. The last time the Tibetan spiritual leader was in the Czech capital was in December 2011, when he held a meeting with the former president, Václav Havel, shortly before his death. The two had been friends and Mr. Havel frequently invited the Dalai Lama to Prague. Forum 2000, which was founded by Mr. Havel and others, brings together leading international thinkers for a series of debates. Next year’s edition will be the 17th.
Prague is planning to build more day centers and shelters for the homeless, a spokesperson for the city council said on Tuesday. Councilors approved the plan in view of statistics indicating that the number of homeless people in the Czech capital could triple by 2020. At present there are approximately 4,000 homeless people in Prague and in harsh winter weather the facilities for them are woefully inadequate. The city council is also planning to introduce programs which would help as many of them as possible return to a normal life.
City councilors are weighing the possibility of renaming a Prague bridge or part of an embankment street after late President Václav Havel, Mlada fronta Dnes reports. According to the daily, part of Rašínovo nábřeži near where Mr Havel once had an apartment could be renamed in his honour. Councilor Lukáš Manhart told the paper the renaming was a possibility but provided few details. At least one other city councilor expressed support for the idea. Earlier this year Prague’s Ruzyně international airport was renamed after the late president.
An 18-month-old infant died on Friday after being savaged by his family’s dog at their home in Prague’s Žižkov district. The news website novinky.cz reported that the dog was a pit bull. The child’s mother is receiving specialist care. Neighbours said the animal had been vicious and attacked other dogs. The Czech police register several cases of dogs attacking children every year.
Prague councillors have rejected a call to end the sprinkling of salt on the capital’s pavements to keep them safe for pedestrians in freezing weather, saying it was the most cost-effective approach. However, they said salting the streets would only take place when conditions were particularly bad. A petition organised by the Green Party and an animal welfare group calling for the cessation of the practise was signed by over 1,000 people; they said it harmed dogs’ feet and destroyed building foundations and people’s shoes. Salting the streets was banned for many years but reintroduced at the start of 2012.
In related news, Prague is set to increase the capacity of shelters and
drop-in centres for the homeless by the year 2020, the Czech News Agency
reported. The city authorities will also put more effort into resocialising
the homeless, invest in social and starter flats and expand field
programmes, under a new plan due to be discussed by the city council in the
coming weeks. Around 4,000 people currently live on the streets of the
Czech capital, though that number is projected to increase to as many as
13,000 within seven years, according to the authors of the plan.
Tapestry tribute to Václav Havel unveiled at airport
A large tapestry dedicated to the late former president Václav Havel was unveiled at Prague’s recently renamed Václav Havel Airport on Sunday. The French-made tapestry is based on a painting created by the award-winning Czech-born artist Petr Sís and originally published in the newspaper Hospodářské noviny on the day of Mr. Havel’s funeral last December. The work was the idea of the organisation Art for Amnesty and has been funded by a group of admirer’s of Czechoslovakia’s first post-Communist president, including rock stars such as Sting and members of U2.
Archaeologists have found rare medieval artefacts in the courtyard of a building on Loretánská St. in the Prague Castle complex that should in future house the Václav Havel Library. The excavations have uncovered human bones, ceramics and coins from the era of Vratislaus II of Bohemia. The protected building was purchased for the Havel Library by the wealthy businessman Zdeněk Bakala. Some conservationists have objected to the project, which has yet to receive a construction permit.
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