Organisers have confirmed that Turkish Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk will attend the Prague Writers’ Festival in April. The vice-president of the festival, Vlasta Brtníková, told the Czech news agency on Friday that the festival had already secured the author a return plane ticket. She compared his attendance at the festival to that of author Salman Rushdie in 2001. Others who have attended the Prague Writer’s Festival in past years include Margaret Atwood, Irvine Welsh and Yann Martel.
Police on Friday evacuated 500 employees and visitors from the Trade Unions Building in Prague 3 as the result of a bomb scare. An anonymous caller warned the authorities an explosives system had been installed inside. Specialists called in to investigate, however, did not find evidence of any tampering. It is not the first time the building has suffered a bomb scare; according to the head of the largest trade unions association, Josef Středula, the site has been targeted before but had not suffered a similar call in several years.
Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said that he does not expect the Civic Democrat's partner in the city council, the TOP 09 party, to abandoned the coalition once the conciliation procedure ends on Monday. During the Sunday talk show Questions with Vaclav Moravec, the mayor said that problems surrounding one of the points of contention - the financing for the construction of a major tunnel called Blanka - should be resolved by the end of April, when the city will finish checking questionable invoices. Mr Svoboda said that if TOP 09 were to abandoned the coalition now, as it has threatened to do during the conciliation proceedings in the past two week, it would send a bad signal to voters.
Two Prague restaurants – the Alcron and Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise –have held onto the Michelin stars they were first awarded last year. Both restaurants are run by Czech chefs. Alcron has been run by Roman Paulus since 2008 and La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise by Oldřich Sahajdák since 2006. Several other restaurants were awarded in the Bib Gourmand category: SaSaZu, Le Terroir, Aromi, Divinis and Sansho.
Prince Edward, the youngest son of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and his wife Sophie attended part of the rehearsal for the play The King’s Speech at the Divadlo pod Palmovkou theatre in Prague on Wednesday morning. The play is based on an episode in the life of Prince Edward’s grandfather George VI. The royal couple are on a private three-day visit to the Czech Republic, and were received by President Miloš Zeman and his wife on Tuesday.
After years of growth, the real estate market in the Czech capital has seen a slow but steady decline, with decreasing prices and many more new listings having turned Prague property into a buyer’s market. One factor behind the change is waning interest from foreigners to invest into real estate in the Czech capital. However, some parts of Prague have become more attractive for Czechs and foreigners alike, while others remain popular primarily with foreign clients.
Petr Hájek, former vice chancellor to the president, will launch a new internet journal with the slogan of “counterrevolutionary magazine” linked to Parlamentnílisty.cz, the news site reports. Mr Hájek served at Prague Castle under former president Václav Klaus. Hájek, a controversial figure at Prague Castle for years, called the late Václav Havel a “servant of Satan” in a book published last year and in the past questioned, conspiracy-style, the truth of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting they could have been orchestrated by the US secret service.
Prague’s National Museum will this weekend exhibit the diplomas of Czechoslovakia’s first three presidents, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Edvard Beneš and Emil Hácha. The historical parchment documents – which officially informed each president of his election – will be on show on Saturday and Sunday at the usually inaccessible Presidential Salon at the museum’s Vítkov National Memorial building.
Mr. Zeman succeeds Václav Klaus, whose second consecutive five-year term came to an end on Thursday. At midnight, the president’s standard was removed from Prague Castle, the bells of St. Vitus Cathedral were rung and the Castle Guard performed the Czech national anthem. Earlier, Mr. Klaus had said, in his final address to the nation on Czech Television, that he did not plan to be a mere observer of goings on in the country. His presidential career ended on something of a low note, with a marked fall in his popularity ratings following the declaration of a controversial amnesty. A number of rock concerts and other events were held to celebrate his departure.
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