Mirek Topolánek has resisted pressure from within the Civic Democrats to step down as party chairman. After nearly 12 hours of talks with senior colleagues in Prague on Tuesday, Mr Topolánek said he would lead the party into elections in May. Senate chair Přemysl Sobotka and other members of the Civic Democrats leadership had urged the former prime minister to remove his name from the party’s candidates list following the emergence at the weekend of video of an interview he gave to a gay magazine. On the video, Mr Topolánek said the Roman Catholic Church had made idiots of the masses, and also made controversial comments about Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka and Prime Minister Jan Fischer. When asked to offer adjectives for gay people, he said Mr Slamečka would fold under pressure. He said Mr Fischer would do the same even quicker, “because he is Jewish”. Mr Topolánek, who said his words had been taken out of context, later apologised to the Church, gays and Jews, though his apology did not succeed in quelling the row. On Tuesday evening he said sorry again, adding that he would “watch his mouth” in future.
Former Czech president Václav Havel cancelled a meeting with Britain’s
Prince Charles on Tuesday due to illness. Mr Havel had been scheduled to
accompany the prince on a visit to Prague’s English College secondary
school, of which both are patrons, on the last day of the latter’s
four-day visit to the Czech Republic. Mr Havel, who is 73 and is inclined
to suffer from breathing difficulties, has also called off a trip to
Georgia planned for this week. He had been due to receive an honour from
the president of the former Soviet state, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla met Czech politicians and visited historical monuments, the theatre and an eco-friendly village during their stay, which began on Saturday.
The Green Party say they will no longer support the caretaker Czech cabinet. Chairman Ondřej Liška also called on the party’s only nominee remaining in the government, Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb, to quit. Tuesday’s announcement came just days after the interim prime minister, Jan Fischer, asked the agriculture minister to also serve as minister of the environment, a post previously occupied by a Greens nominee. The caretaker government will step down after elections at the end of May. Some opinion polls have suggested the Green Party will not reach the five-percent threshold required to get into the next Czech parliament.
A group of Greenpeace activists have spent a second day on top of a 300-metre chimney at the coal-fired power plant at the centre of the row which caused Jan Dusík to quit as environment minister. Five of the 13 activists who forced their way onto the Prunéřov site in north-west Bohemia on Monday remained there overnight and said they would decide whether to come down depending on political developments. Greenpeace accuses the company of responsibility for Mr Dusík’s resignation and say the new minister of the environment can only banish suspicions he is a ČEZ placeman by blocking its plans. A report by Norwegian organisation DNV for the environment ministry last week said ČEZ had not used the best available technology for the proposed modernisation with higher pollution a result.
Prague councillors have dismissed three members of the board of directors of the Prague Public Transport Company. Among them are the director of the city’s transit authority, Martin Dvořák, and Radovan Šteiner, who is councillor for transport. The sackings come a week after a recommendation to that effect from Civic Democrat councillors, who control Prague Town Hall. Officials say Mr Dvořák has not performed well as director of the Public Transport Co, adding that they plan to remove him from that post by the summer.
The General Teaching hospital located on Prague’s Karlovo náměstí square could be moved out of the centre in order to free up its valuable site, the news website aktualne.cz reported. The idea of moving the hospital has been raised several times, including by the previous Czech government headed by Mirek Topolánek. The current caretaker cabinet is to make a final decision on whether to move the hospital, one of the biggest in the city, at a meeting next Monday, aktualne.cz said. Health Minister Dana Jurásková has said that some parts of the teaching hospital should remain at their current location.
The State Institute for the Control of Medicines has launched a campaign warning Czechs against buying fake and illegal medications on the internet. Last year alone, the institute uncovered 2,000 cases of counterfeit medicines, some of which it said could have been very dangerous to health. It drew particular attention to “lifestyle” drugs such as anabolic steroids and those for erectile dysfunction and weight loss. The Institute has posted videos warning against fake meds on a dedicated website.
The Czech Olympic champion Kateřina Emmons has returned to top class competitive shooting in style, winning the women’s 10-metre air rifle at a World Cup event in Australia’s Sydney on Tuesday. Emmons had taken a career break to have her first child with US shooter Matthew Emmons. The 26-six-year-old told one Czech website, the event was good – I’m back.
The Czech international soccer goalkeeper Petr Čech should be fit to play for his club Chelsea in a Premier League game against Portsmouth on Wednesday night, Reuters reported. Čech, who is 27, has been absent since February 24, when he was injured during a Champions League match against Inter Milan. Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti said he welcomed the return of his goalkeeping number one at this crucial point in the season.
Following a marked rise in temperatures, around half of the snow that was lying in the Czech Republic a week ago has now melted, the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute said on Tuesday. About a billion cubic metres of snow turned to water in a seven-day period. However, snow remains in mountainous areas, meaning the threat of flooding has been largely avoided. Forecasters said they expected the thaw to continue in the coming days. There were heavy snowfalls around the country early this year, with the capital Prague seeing the most snow in three decades.