The leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolánek, has apologised to homosexuals and Jews after making controversial remarks about two members of the government in an interview for the gay magazine Lui. When asked for adjectives he would use to describe gays, Mr Topolánek said he had the feeling that Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka would “back away” if the going got really tough. He said Prime Minister Jan Fischer was simply a Jew and would do same thing even sooner. The chairman of the country’s biggest right-wing party said he had contacted both men to explain his comments. Mr Topolánek also apologised to Christians, after saying during a photo shoot for Lui that the Church had brainwashed people and made idiots of the masses.
Prime Minister Jan Fischer has reacted angrily to the comments made by the leader of the Civic Democrats. In a statement issued on Sunday, he said they were, “put diplomatically, insulting, stupid and devious”. Mr Fischer said he would in future keep contact with Mr Topolánek to the minimum required to maintain a working relationship; he said he was aware of Mr Topolánek’s apology, but said it was not up to him to either judge the latter or grant him absolution.
Britain’s Prince Charles has attended a service at a Prague church on the second day of a four-day visit to the Czech Republic. Sunday’s service at St Clement’s Church, one of the oldest in the city, was conducted in English. Later the prince and his wife Camilla walked through the historic centre of the Czech capital. On Monday the royal couple will fly to Moravia where they will visit an eco-village and Brno’s Masaryk University, as well as meeting the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, in the capital. The heir to the British throne will end his stay on Tuesday with a meeting with former Czech president Václav Havel and a visit to Prague’s English College secondary school.
The chairman of the Social Democrats says if his party wins upcoming general elections, their preferred option would be a coalition with centrists, with a minority cabinet supported by the Communists another alternative. Jiří Paroubek made the comments on a TV debate programme on Sunday. He said he did not envisage forming a coalition with the Communist Party, who have never been in government since 1989’s Velvet Revolution. Their leader Vojtěch Filip said he expected the Social Democrats to enter a coalition with the right-of-centre Civic Democrats after the elections, which will take place on the last weekend of May.
Czech soldiers will be able to vote in general elections at a military base abroad for the first time this May, Czech Television reported. Troops based in the Afghan province of Logar will be able to cast their ballots at a temporary consulate which is being opened there by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the start of next month. Czech Television reported that the authorities in Afghanistan had already approved the move. Previously Czech soldiers abroad could only vote if they managed to get to one of the country’s embassies.
The minister of health, Dana Jurásková, has widened price regulation on medicines sold in the Czech Republic, meaning patients pay less for certain drugs. She said on a TV debate programme on Sunday that costs for both patients and insurers would fall by about 5 percent after 12 types of medicines became the subject of price regulation. Minister Jurásková also said that by April 1 the body which controls medicines in the Czech Republic would deliver a decision on price revisions that would affect thousands of drugs. She said the measures had been taken after it emerged that many patients had had to pay more for medicines from the start of the year.
The Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková has crowned a fantastic season by becoming world champion for the sixth time with at a win at the World All-around Championship in Heerenveen in the Netherlands. Sáblíková took the title after victory in her best event the 5000 metres on Sunday. The 22-year-old has become a huge star in the Czech Republic since winning two gold medals and one bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver last month.
The Czech cross-country skier Lukáš Bauer came second overall in the World Cup after finishing ninth in the 15-kilometre freestyle in Sweden’s Falun on Sunday. Bauer, who took two bronze medals at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, finished behind this season’s most successful men’s cross-country skier, Petter Northug of Norway. Bauer, who is 32, won the World Cup in 2008.
The owner of the Czech first division football club Bohemians Praha, Karel
Kapr, says players from Sigma Olomouc paid his team to throw a match at
end of last season in order to ensure the latter reached the qualifying
stages of the Europa League. Mr Kapr told the police that Olomouc
goalkeeper Petr Drobisz offered and later gave his players CZK 300,000
16,000) to deliberately lose. The police’s anti-corruption unit have
launched an investigation into the matter.
In 2004 Czech football was rocked by the biggest scandal in its history, when widespread bribery and match-fixing was uncovered. Fourteen referees were punished, four clubs had points deducted and several officials were banned.
Hundreds of fans, most of the female, attended the launch of the German edition of a book about Karel Gott at the Leipzig Book Fair on Sunday. The Czech singer, who is very popular in both Germany and Austria, signed copies of Karel Gott: The Golden Voice from Prague at the trade fair. He said he had personally made changes to the German translation of the book to make it more interesting to German readers.