German President Christian Wulff has arrived in Prague for a day of talks with top Czech officials. Speaking after a meeting with President Václav Klaus, Mr Wulff again addressed a recent debate over the aftermath of WWII, saying that the crimes of Nazism against the Czechs could not be compared with the post-war expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia, and that the time was right for a debate to be held on the matter. Mr Klaus said following the meeting that relations between the two countries were at an historic high. Mr Wulff’s talks with the Czech president and PM are expected to focus on bilateral relations, EU matters and the outcome of the recent NATO summit in Lisbon. Two problem issues that have been highlighted by the Czech side are the restriction of the German job market for Czechs, which is to expire in May 2011, and the often humiliating road checks which Czech drivers are subjected to in Bavaria.
Police have suspended their investigation into the most recent collapse of the Blanka Tunnel, saying they found no evidence of a crime having been committed. The collapse left a large hole metres away from a government building and a bull-dozer driver buried for several hours before being safely rescued. Last month, the Czech Mining Authority fined the construction company, Metrostav, one million crowns for not doing enough to ensure safety. Sections of the Prague tunnel, which will be one of the longest in Europe when complete, have collapsed on three different occasions, twice creating large craters in the city’s Stromovka park.
The Regional Court of Central Bohemia has sentenced a motorist to five years’ imprisonment for a road rage incident in which he rammed another car on the D1 motorway, sending it flying off the road. Remarkably, no one in the second vehicle was seriously injured, however the driver was found to have rammed it intentionally, allegedly angered because it was moving too slowly and he was unable to pass it. The entire incident was caught on video. The driver maintained that he had lost control of his car and noted in his defence that he had called for help following the incident and provided a large monetary advance for damages.
A special meeting of energy company ČEZ has voted for a change in the composition of the supervisory board. The board will now consist of three members of the Civic Democrat and TOP 09 parties each and one representative from the Social Democratic and Public Affairs parties. The four remaining positions will be left to employee representatives. Martin Říman of the Civic Democratic Party will remain the chairman of the supervisory board. The state owns roughly 70% of the power giant and collected record dividends of nearly 20 billion crowns from it last year.
Education Minister Josef Dobeš says he would like ethics classes to be mandatory in grade schools, rather than optional as they are currently. Mr Dobeš told a conference on ethics education on Monday that he would enforce the classes if the schools themselves show a high level of interest in the idea. Around a hundred schools introduced the new subject in September. The Education Ministry plans to make the classes mandatory at the college level for future teachers.
A bronze statue has been stolen from the grounds of the Lidice memorial, police report. The one-metre statue is part of a representation of the 82 children from the village who died in Nazi concentration camps in Poland during WWII, and is thought to be worth 220,000 crowns. The memorial director believes the work was either stolen by a scrap-metal collector, or its theft was ordered by an art collector. The village of Lidice was burnt to the ground by the Nazis in 1942 as in retaliation for the assassination of the Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. 340 civilians were then murdered, either by execution or in camps.
The latest instalment of the Harry Potter series brought nearly a quarter of a million visitors to the cinemas in the Czech Republic at the weekend, breaking earlier records for first-weekend attendance. The previous record for a premiere weekend was the series’ sixth instalment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which was seen by 172,266 moviegoers on its first weekend in July of last year. The new film was screened in more that 50 countries at the weekend, grossing nearly 400 million dollars.
Czech animator Jan Švankmajer has received the award for his lifetime contribution to cinematography at the 5th European Film Festival in Segovia, Spain. The prize comes two weeks after Mr Švankmajer took the award for excellence in world cinematography at the international festival in Bratislava. The Spanish festival also included a retrospective of the director’s films, including his newest work Surviving Life, which premiered in the Czech Republic this month..
US jazz singer Dianne Reeves got a standing ovation at a packed Congress centre in Prague on Sunday night. In a two hour concert with the Prague Chamber Philharmonic the jazz great performed some of her greatest hits, including Lullaby of Birdland, as a tribute to Sarah Vaughan, Embraceable You and Send in the Clowns. The concert was the final event of the jazz and classical music festival Struny podzimu, or Strings of Autumn.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has lost his first match at the ATP World Tour Finals to Serb Novak Djokovic 3:6, 3:6. The Wimbledon finalist kept up a very high fault rate throughout. Formerly known as Masters, the ATP World Tour Finals bring together the eight best players of the season. The last appearance of a Czech player at the Masters was that of Radek Stepanek in 2008. Ivan Lendl and American Pete Sampras remain the record holders in wins at the Masters, with five titles each.
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