Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has cast doubt upon the funding of Jan Švejnar’s presidential campaign. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Mr Topolánek suggested there was a link between ČSOB bank and the financing of Mr Švejnar’s campaign. The opposition Social Democrats and the Greens have strongly rejected Mr Topolánek’s accusations. Since 2003 Jan Švejnar has been a member of the supervisory board at ČSOB bank, which has been involved in a CZK 30-billion arbitration case with the Czech state. He said he was prepared to leave the post in case he won the presidential election.
Former Czech president Václav Havel was released from Prague’s Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine on Saturday, where he was hospitalised on January 19 with chronic bronchitis and a heart problem. Due to his hospitalization, he missed the premiere of Citizen Havel - a documentary film made in his honour.
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party Jiří Paroubek said on Sunday, less than a week ahead of the presidential election, that his party wants to continue negotiating about the head of state being elected by acclamation. The election is to start at a joint session of the two houses of parliament on Friday, February 8. Two candidates will run in the election, the incumbent Václav Klaus and Czech born, US based economist Jan Švejnar.
The head of the Green Party Martin Bursík said on Sunday he was ready to discuss the bill on property settlement between the state and churches with the Social Democratic Party, which threatened not to support it. Under the deal, a third of church property confiscated by the communist regime will be returned to its original owners and compensation will be paid for the rest. The compensation was set at some 83 billion Czech crowns (approximately 4.7 billion US dollars). It is to be paid out over the next 60 years at a rate of interest set a 4.8 percent, with the overall figure expected to reach some 270 billion crowns. The social Democrats and the Communist criticised the government coalition for not discussing the issue with them.
“London, Chelsea Reach”, a 1957 painting by Austrian artist Oskar Kokoshka, was sold for 19.5 million crowns (one million US dollars) on Sunday. It was the highest starting price ever set on the Czech auction market. However, the painting has not beaten the record held by František Kupka’s Élévation IV, which was sold off for 22.1 million crowns last October.
The police in Teplice, North Bohemia, know the identity of the men who appeared in a recent report by CNN on Czech prostitutes being hired to work in British brothels, TV Nova reported. A CNN reporter posing as a British brothel owner interested in hiring prostitutes for work in Britain contacted the management of several Czech brothels in and around Teplice. They offered the undercover reporter two girls for several thousand pounds and a percentage of their earnings in Britain. One of the Czech brothel owners indicated that he had previously supplied a girl to work in a brothel in Manchester. The men who appeared in the video will now be questioned by the police.
Czechs consider international organised crime the largest security risk for their country and they are also afraid of terrorists, according to a survey conducted by the CVVM agency in December. It indicated that 62 percent of respondents were afraid of international organised crime and 53 were afraid of terrorists. Nearly 20 percent of respondents considered refugees from other countries as a threat to the country and 10 percent said ethnic minorities living in the Czech Republic presented the largest security risk.
An 18-year old student from the town of Strážnice in Moravia has won the title of Czech Miss 2008. Eliška Bučková has won a one million crown contract, a one-year lease to an apartment in Prague and car on Saturday. She has also been voted Miss Internet. The new Czech Miss was crowned by French actor Alain Delon, who also presided over the jury.
Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková came first in the 3, 000 metres at a world cup event in Italy’s Baselga di Pine on Sunday, securing her lead in the overall World Cup standings in long-track. She currently has an advantage of 180 points over her nearest rival, Claudia Pechstein of Germany. On Saturday, Sáblíková also took her first medal in the 15,000 metres, when she came second in the race.