Some politicians and experts have warned that a change in pension law, following a recent decision by the Constitutional Court, will most likely lead to a significant increase in state expenses. In a debate program on Czech public television on Sunday, former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek said that the change in pension law that the court verdict calls for should be implemented as part of a general pension reform. The head of the Association of Pension Funds of the Czech Republic said that the change in law will affect tens of thousands of pension recipients. In an interview for Saturday’s edition of the daily Právo, the head of the Constitutional Court said that the verdict would not lead to significant added expenses for the state, since it only affected about 8000 recipients of pension. The Constitutional Court ruled last week that the current calculation of pensions for higher income earners was unconstitutional.
Plzeň police are prosecuting a group of three men, who were seen giving the Hitler salute at a bar late on Saturday night. The three men, aged 29, 40 and 44, were shouting Neo-Nazi slogans propagating the suppression of human rights, which is considered an illegal act in the Czech Republic. One of the three verbally attacked a woman who was in the bar, and later punched her in the ear. It is not clear yet if the three perpetrators were participants in a far-right extremist march that took place in Plzeň earlier on Saturday. Local police arrested a total of six participants, who were wearing clothing with illegal imagery and slogans.
The Czech Republic’s women’s tennis team has been beaten by Italy in the semi-finals of the Fed Cup. After defeats for Lucie Hradecká and Lucie Šafářová in Rome on Saturday, Flavia Pennetta's 7-6 6-2 win over Petra Kvitová in the third rubber on Sunday afternoon gave the hosts an unassailable 3:0 lead in the best-of-five tie. The Italians have reached the final four times in the last five years.
The directors of Czech Airlines and Prague’s Ruzyně airport said on Sunday that they have suffered financial losses between 150 and 200 million Czech crowns, due to air space being closed down across Europe after a cloud of volcanic ash spread over the continent. The director of Czech Airlines said that the company is currently not considering asking the Czech government for financial aid. The airline suffered losses of tens of millions of crowns for each day that flights were cancelled, the exact amount of money lost has not been determined yet. Prague’s Ruzyně airport saw losses of some 50 million Czech crowns during the three days that the airport was closed down.
Sunday marks the 85th anniversary of the publishing of Franz Kafka’s internationally acclaimed novel “The Trial”. The first edition was published by the Berlin publishing house Die Schmiede, a year after the author’s death. Kafka never finished the novel, but the fragment was preserved by fellow writer Max Brod. Franz Kafka, who was born in Prague in 1883, started writing “The Trial” at the beginning of World War I. The novel follows protagonist Josef K., who is not aware of having committed a crime yet finds himself the subject of a court trial. He unsuccessfully attempts to find out what he is charged with, and is eventually sentenced to death.
The winner of the Miss Roma Czech Republic 2010 contest, which took place on Saturday evening, is the student Pavlína Lendelová. The 17-year-old student from North Bohemia competed against twelve finalists, including her own sister, in disciplines such as folk dancing. She received numerous prizes, including a one-week-vacation at a Czech spa. This year, 65 girls of Romany origin participated in the Miss Roma Czech Republic contest.
A work by the Czech surrealist painter Toyen was sold at auction in Prague’s Vltavín auction hall on Sunday. The starting price for the painting, titled “The Remainder of the Night”, was 13 million Czech crowns, it sold for 13.2 million. It is seventh highest price that a Czech painting has been sold for at auction. Toyen’s paintings are among the most expensive works on the Czech art market. Previously, another work by the artist was on auction with a starting price of 20 million Czech crowns, the highest starting price for a Czech painter’s work to date.
A new long-distance cycling path was opened in the city of Jihlava on Sunday. Some 1000 cyclists attended the opening ceremony, including Tour de France participant Ján Svorada. The path, which leads from Jihlava to the Austrian town of Raabs an der Thaya, is 110 kilometers long. Last year, parts of the cycling path located on the Czech Republic side were repaired. The repair, which cost 58 million Czech crowns, was financed by EU funds. It took several months to complete.
A pedestrian was killed by a truck early on Sunday morning. He was hit by a truck as he was crossing a four-lane highway near the Moravian town of Nový Jičín. The man, who was 57 years old, died at the scene of the accident. A rescue team that arrived by helicopter was not able to help the victim, who suffered fatal head injuries.
A husband and wife were killed in a house fire on Saturday night in the Moravian city of Opava. Firefighters rescued the man and the woman, aged 61 and 57, from the burning house. Attempts to resuscitate the couple failed. Four firefighter units were able to extinguish the fire within an hour. Material damages are estimated at 1.5 million Czech crowns. Police are investigating the case.