The Czech government has approved a plan to deal with the swine flu pandemic that will see more people vaccinated than was originally planned. Provisions are in place to vaccinate nearly one million people against the H1N1 virus, the minister of health, Dana Jurásková, said on Thursday. Almost 100,000 doses have already been delivered to the Czech Republic, with vaccinations due to begin at the start of next week. The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in the country now stands at around 650. The chief hygiene officer, Michael Vít, says the Czech Republic is likely to see a swine flu epidemic at the start of next month.
Police are investigating an ongoing project to reconstruct part of the famous Prague landmark Charles Bridge. A preservationists group called ASKORD last month filed charges over how the reconstruction job is being carried out; they say police have begun questioning witnesses in connection with the matter. ASKORD believe that insufficient research was conducted before the project to renovate the upper parts of Charles Bridge began in 2007, and have also complained that the work is being carried poorly. The conservation association said after they contacted UNESCO in connection with the reconstruction, the UN body called on the Czech ambassador to the organisation to explain what was going on. The bridge is partly closed, though crossable, at the moment, with work due to come to an end next year.
An invitation for controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders to show his anti-Islamist film Finta at the Czech Senate has been cancelled. Chairman Přemysl Sobotka had called on the Senate’s media committee to bar Mr Wilders’ appearance, saying otherwise it would have been blocked by the upper house’s organisational committee. The invitation had been issued by Civic Democrat senator Jiří Oberfalzer, who has refused to comment on the barring of the Dutch politician. Mr Oberfalzer’s party on Thursday issued a statement saying Geert Wilders’ opinions were fundamentally at odds with the values they espoused. Mr Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, says Islam is a threat to Europe’s freedom; like Jiří Oberfalzer, he is a Eurosceptic.
A Brno man who brutally killed a man and raped his girlfriend has been sentenced to life in prison. Radim Odehnal met the couple in a pub in April this year and invited them to spend the night at his home in the Brno district of Komárov. When the man became angered by Odehnal making sexual advances towards his girlfriend, the latter stabbed and beat him to death. He then cut up the victim’s body before burning it on a fire in the courtyard of his apartment building. Odehnal then repeatedly raped the woman, and was evidently planning to murder her too before she managed to escape.
A rare white tiger was ripped apart by lions in the zoo in the Czech city of Liberec on Thursday. Two lions, one male, one female, attacked the 17-year-old tiger, which was named Isabella, after managing to get into her run. How that happened is reportedly not yet clear. A spokesperson for the zoo told the news website lidovky.cz that the tiger had almost no chance of survival. In the wild it would have been able to outrun the lions.
The interior ministry has come up with a proposal that would ensure 30 percent of electoral candidates were women. If approved, the new law would come into effect in 2013. In July the government of Jan Fischer said it wanted to introduce a quota system for female candidates. The minister of minorities and human rights, Michal Kocáb, has said he will attempt to persuade the main political parties of the need to introduce such legislation.
Environmental group Greenpeace have staged a protest outside the ministry of trade and industry against a state energy policy which envisages lifting limits on coal mining in the vicinity of the north Bohemian city of Most. Activists on Thursday placed a ribbon around the ministry building, saying coal had been found under it and it would be knocked down to make way for a mine – Greenpeace say a similar fate could meet some villages in the Most region. However, a ministry spokesperson said limits would only be removed if disputes with people living in the area concerned were resolved.
The new Czech football manager Michal Bílek says he understands the negative reaction after his young side were beaten 2:0 by minnows Azerbaijan in a friendly tournament in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday. That followed a defeat to the hosts on Sunday. Czech newspapers have described the result against Azerbaijan as a disgrace. However, Bílek told reporters that the results were secondary and it was more important to keep trying out new players.
A huge new atlas of the Czech Republic has been presented by the country’s environment minister, Ladislav Miko. He commissioned the project in 2003 while he was deputy environment minister. Atlas of the Landscape of the Czech Republic contains 800 maps and weighs 10 kilogrammes. It will cost around CZK 4,500 (USD 260).
The 12th French Film Festival opens in Prague’s Světozor cinema on Thursday night. The special guest on the first night will be Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who will present his most recent film Micmacs. The festival will close with Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, which won the jury grand prix at Cannes this year.