The coalition government has, as expected, survived a vote of no-confidence tabled by the opposition Social Democrats. That party, former member Evžen Snítilý and the Communists voted for the motion, though their combined 98 votes were not enough to topple the three-party government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. It was the third Social Democrat-tabled no confidence vote survived by the Civic Democrat-led coalition.
Prague’s Ruznyně airport is to get train and underground rail links in the coming decade, according to a plan signed by senior city and national officials. A train connection from Masaryk station in the centre of Prague to the airport and the town of Kladno should be completed by 2013. However, it is not yet clear how the train link, named AirCon, will be financed. Meanwhile, the A or green line of the Prague metro system will be extended to reach Prague Airport by 2016.
More than 1,000 police officers are set to monitor 35 events planned for Prague on Thursday, a state holiday in the Czech Republic. There will be strong police presences at a number of demonstrations organised by neo-Nazis, nationalists, anarchists and the Communist Party. The reason there are so many events announced for May Day this year is that Prague’s Jewish Community has acquired permission for gatherings in two dozen places, in order to prevent the far right from “booking” those spots.
Prague City Court has upheld a ruling under which St Vitus’s Cathedral was adjudged to be the property of the Czech state. In September a Prague District Court said the Prague Castle cathedral and adjacent property belonged to the state. That decision overturned previous rulings under which the Roman Catholic church was declared the owner of the most visited cathedral in the Czech Republic. A spokesperson said the church was planning to appeal against the latest verdict.
Architect Jan Kaplický has changed the design of a planned new building for Prague’s National Library to bring the project in line with the city’s zoning laws. The planned building, nicknamed the Blob, has been designed for Prague’s Letná Plain. However, it has run into a number of obstacles, including failure to meet zoning laws. Mr Kaplický’s Future Systems architecture studio has made reductions to the size of the building in an effort to increase its chances of being built. The Blob is the most controversial building project in Prague in recent years, with its opponents saying it would be out of place on the city’s skyline.
Czech archaeologists have made what they have described as the discovery of the century. Archaeologists from the University of West Bohemian in Plzeň uncovered unique wooden constructions from the late Iron Age in a raised area in the Karlovy Vary region. They had been preserved by the wet conditions at the site of a former fish pond and have no equal either in value or number in the Czech Republic, one of the team involved in the discovery said.
Police have charged a group of Vietnamese citizens with the cultivation and sale of marijuana. Police uncovered 50 kilos of the drug and over 3,000 marijuana plants during a series of raids in Ústí nad Labem. Nine arrests were made in Ústí, while three more Vietnamese were later detained in Prague. Police said the group were exporting the marijuana to the Netherlands and Germany.
All the tickets for two NHL ice hockey games in Prague in October have been sold. Around 10,000 tickets for the games between New York Rangers and Tampa Bay at the city’s O2 Arena sold out in just over a day. The two matches will open the 2008-2009 hockey season and will be the first ever NHL matches held in the Czech Republic.
Over 250 Czechs have applied for asylum in Canada since Ottawa introduced visa-free travel for Czechs five months ago, the Canadian Embassy in Prague said on Monday. Ottawa imposed travel restrictions on Czechs in 1997, in reaction to a flood of asylum seekers. It eventually lifted them ten years later, on November 1, 2007. In the first five months of visa-free travel, 261 Czechs have sought asylum in Canada. But the Canadian Embassy said on Tuesday that there was no risk of Ottawa re-introducing visa requirements in light of the figures. The Czech Republic does not yet enjoy permanent visa-free relations with Canada, but a spokesperson for the Czech Foreign Ministry said that the two governments were closely cooperating on the matter.
The Cuban press has accused the Czech ambassador to the United States of working for the CIA, writes Hospodářské noviny on Tuesday. The paper Granma Internacional claims that Petr Kolář was selected and recruited by the CIA in the late 1980s. The Czech Foreign Ministry has responded by saying that the claims are ‘nonsense’ and deserve no further reaction. The Czech Republic has long been a strong critic of Fidel Castro’s regime. The Czech ambassador in the US, Petr Kolář, recently told an American newspaper that Cubans should ‘take the situation into their own hands’ and strive for regime change.