According to provisional figures released by the Czech police on Wednesday, the number of people who died on Czech roads this year was the lowest in two decades. There were 826 road deaths by December 29 this year, the police said. That can be considered a relatively positive number, considering that only twice since 1989 have less than 1,000 deaths been recorded in any year. In 1994 nearly 1500 people died on Czech roads. The relatively low total of fatal accidents this year has been credited to more frequent checks by the Czech Republic’s traffic police.
November saw the first year-on-year monthly increase in industrial output in the Czech Republic since September 2008, according to official government figures released on Wednesday. However, the rise of only 0.2 percent is being regarded as something of a disappointment by analysts, who had expected higher growth; they point out that output fell by 17.4 percent in November 2008, meaning that even with a slight rise levels this November were well below those in the third quarter of last year.
Three quarters of Czechs regard 2009 as a “bad” year, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency. While 54 percent of respondents said the year had been “more on the bad side”, 21 percent described the last 12-month period as “very bad”. Meanwhile, the poll indicates that 43 percent of Czechs believe that next year will be the same as this year, and one third of respondents said they thought 2010 would be even worse than 2009.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, met the caretaker prime minister, Jan Fischer, in a ski resort in the area where both men are spending the New Year break. The two leaders and their wives reportedly did not discuss politics but family matters and holidays when they met at a restaurant in the town of Špindlerův Mlýn on Tuesday evening. Mr Klaus will host Prime Minister Fischer at a traditional New Year’s lunch at the presidential retreat at Lány on January 4.
Meanwhile, Mr Klaus has also invited the leaders of the two biggest Czech parties to a lunch at the start of what will be an election year. His invitation to the Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek and the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolánek has been criticised by leaders of the other parties in the Czech Parliament. The chairman of the new right-of-centre grouping TOP 09 Karel Schwarzenberg said it was no surprise, as the president was in favour of a coalition of the two biggest parties. For his part, Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip said the invitation amounted to “constitutional excess”.
The company Unipetrol RPA is to compensate fishermen after a leak of oil products into the River Bilina last week killed a large number of fish. A representative of the Czech fishermen’s association said on Wednesday that a deal had been agreed on principle, though the exact value of damages caused had yet to be calculated. Pollution of up to 1,000 times the permitted levels was recorded in the Bilina, which is a tributary of the Labe, or Elbe.
“Unexplained phenomena” at a building in Rokycany near Prague dubbed a “House of Horror” in the Czech media were actually caused by a person, the police said on Wednesday, adding that an investigation into the matter would now be shelved. The Czech News Agency reported that the son of the family who own the house was responsible for “phenomena” such as exploding electric sockets and glass shattering of its own accord. However, some experts said the son could not have been responsible for all the strange occurrences in the so-called House of Horror, which was the centre of Czech media attention for some weeks.
A youth from the Moravian town of Přerov is reported to be in a critical condition after being bitten by a poisonous adder. The 19-year-old breeds exotic snakes and was also admitted to hospital some weeks ago after being bitten by another adder. He is being treated in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Olomouc.
Coach Vladimír Růžička has announced the Czech ice hockey squad for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February. Among the 23 players called up are seven based in Europe. Jaromír Jágr, who plays in the Russian league, is the only player remaining from the Czech team that won the Olympics in Nagano, Japan in 1998. There has been some surprise at the omission of the likes of Jaroslav Špaček, Václav Prospal, Jiří Hudler and Milan Hajduk.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic beat Austria 7:1 at ice hockey’s World Under 20 Championship in Canada on Tuesday. However, after defeats to Sweden and Finland in their opening two matches, the Czechs’ chances of advancing in the competition are slim. They now need to beat Russia in their last group game, and hope that other results go their way.