Voters from two peripheral municipalities in Brno - Přířenice and Dolní Heršpice – are deciding in a referendum whether to remain part of the Moravian capital or form a separate municipality. Voting began at 9 am on Sunday. The referendum is the initiative of a civic association protesting plans by the city to develop local property near existing homes in an area known as Slunná louka. Activists and locals have criticised the city’s development plan that would allow for robust real estate and industrial development. If more than 50 percent of inhabitants vote for the areas to separate, it will be the first official shrinking of the city’s perimeter in its history. Přířenice and Dolní Heršpice have been part of Brno since 1919.
Brno city hall has passed an ordinance more closely outlining rules for taxi services in the Moravian capital. The move was taken to end disputes with local cab companies; the city has around 500 taxi drivers. Until now, taxicabs were granted only two official stands in Brno – at the main train station and a local square. But under new rules the city will designate another 15 or so areas. These will be available by all taxi companies with operating licences. The head of transport at city hall made clear the intention was to improve overall services. Some measures will be toughened, with fines given to drivers who refuse customers wanting to travel only short distances or to drivers who purposely take longer routes to reach given destinations.
Southern Moravia has been celebrating “vinobraní” – in other words the results of this year’s grape harvest. At the weekend the towns of Znojmo and Mikulov, which are steeped in the wine-making tradition, saw festivities kick-off with many thousands of people taking part. As every year, celebrations included the consumption of the young Czech wine burčák. Producers say wine production suffered this year due to poor weather conditions but said visitors and attendees at the weekend celebrations enjoyed themselves none the less. This year’s festivities included local parades on Sunday led by actors portraying King Václav IV and his retinue. Actress Jitka Schneiderová – who hails from the region – was among those taking part.
The village of Ratměřice, near Benešov in Central Bohemia, has been named “Village of the Year for 2010” beating out 361 competitors from 13 regions in the Czech Republic. The winner was announced on Saturday as part of an international folklore dance and music festival. The runners-up were villages from the Domažlice and Opava regions. It is the 16th year that the award has been given. It includes two million crowns in prize money to be used for local development. Ratměřice’s mayor Mayor Viktor Liška told journalists the village of 260 inhabitants organized numerous cultural events, inviting guests to visit palace gardens as well as a village museum.
Far-right extremists on Saturday evening attacked Left-wing demonstrators in the northwest Bohemian town of Most who were protesting against the lifting of mining limits in the area. Police were able to keep around 15 right-wing extremists away from the activists in a first attempt but a brawl later broke out between the two groups at a local restaurant. Five right-wing extremists were arrested. Earlier, three Leftist activists were also arrested for damaging property during the march.
Prague’s High Court on Monday will take up an appeal in a case surrounding the cancellation of the Golden Kids tour, featuring performers Helena Vondráčková, Václav Neckář and Marta Kubišová. Ms Vondráčková and her husband, Martin Michal, who own a promotion company, are suing for 1.3 million crowns in damages that the tour never went ahead. They have maintained that although no contract was ever signed, there was a verbal agreement between the three performers. Earlier, the lower instance court dismissed the case on the grounds that there was no evidence that any agreement had been broken. A number of public figures signed an open letter to Helena Vondráčková expressing disappointment she was pursuing legal action against Mrs Kubišová, among them former president Václav Havel and former prime minister Jan Fischer.
Prague firemen on Saturday unveiled a plaque in the Czech capital commemorating the 343 New York firemen and rescuers who died in New York City nine years ago, responding to the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The plaque, which bears an inscription in Czech and English, is found at Prague’s Kampa at Malá strana. On Saturday, the ninth anniversary of 9/11, Prague fire fighters also gathered at the US Embassy, where commanders presented US cultural attaché David Gainer with a commemorative letter. Mr Gainer also took part in the unveiling, along with the mayor of Prague 1, laying a wreath at the site.
The police in Sokolov, in the west of the country, have called off a search for a 13-year-old girl who failed to return home on Saturday evening. The teen left home early in the day to attend a local funfair, where she was last seen. After she failed to return home in the evening, the police searched local bars, gambling venues, parks, and also spoke to the girl’s friends, but without result. A police spokeswoman confirmed on Sunday that the girl, who turns 14 in a month’s time, had since resurfaced unhurt. Apparently, the teen had been moving freely in different areas of the town but failed to contact her family.
ČTK has reported that a two-year-old toddler died in an ambulance en route to hospital in Svitavy on Sunday, after suffering fatal wounds in a tractor accident. The little boy had been sitting on the tractor driver’s lap but slipped and was run-over by the vehicle’s roller. A police breathalyser test confirmed that the driver had consumed alcohol. Police are investigating the case as one of criminal negligence causing death which carries a sentence from one to six years in prison.
White-water kayaker Vavřinec Hradilek clinched the silver medal in the men’s kayak event on Sunday at the Canoe Slalom World Championships in Tacen, Slovenia. The Czech Olympian racked up a score of 91.56, beaten only by Italy’s Daniele Molmenti with 91.0. Molmenti had the best time and navigated the course flawlessly, while Hradilek made one mistake.
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