Some 15,000 polling stations around the country opened at 2 PM on Friday
for Czechs to vote in a two-day general election to the lower house of
Parliament. In the fifth general elections held since the country’s
establishment in 1993, 25 parties are contesting 200 seats in the Chamber
of Deputies. Czech President Václav Klaus cast his vote in a Prague
polling station on Friday afternoon; Social Demcorat leader Jiří
voted in Teplice, north Bohemia, where he’s heading his party ballot,
Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas in his home town of Rožnov pod
Radhoštěm in northern Moravia.
The polling stations will close for the night, and re-open on Saturday at 8 AM. Czechs have a chance to cast their ballots until 2 PM on that day. Around 8 million Czech citizens are entitled to vote in the general elections; in the last four years ago, the turnout was just below 65 percent.
The Czech Republic will sell two million carbon credits to the World Bank, the Czech Environment Ministry said on Friday. The funds will be used for subsidies of energy saving and renewable energy production, the ministry said. The World Bank’s vice-president for sustainable development, Katherine Sierra said this was the first time the bank finances such a programme with its carbon funds. The Czech Republic has so far sold 75 million carbon credits, most of them to Japan, Austria and Sweden; 25 million credits are still available for sale.
The Czech foreigners police on Friday detained 33 members of the Hell’s
Angels gang en route to Prague where the group is holding an international
meeting over the weekend. The foreigners, 17 of whom are Norwegian
citizens, had earlier been declared personae non gratae; they were
in several locations and will now have to leave the country.
A police spokeswoman said some 200 people with 150 motorbikes arrived in Prague on Friday to take part in the meeting. This is the second time Hell’s Angels are meeting in Prague; they first came to the Czech capital in 2005.
The European Commission launched an investigation into the Prague-based finance group J&T for obstructing last year’s inspection. In November 2009, the European Commission looked into the group’s activities in the energy sector; J&T together with the Czech state-owned energy giant ČEZ faced accusations of manipulating the market to stifle competition. The commission is now trying to find out whether J&T provided all requested materials, and whether they were complete. The European Commission said several incidents occurred during the inspection resulting in restricted access to the company’s e-mail accounts and other electronic records.
The German-owned, Czech base carmaker Škoda Audo will have a new boss as of September, the company said on Friday. The current chair of Škoda’s board of directors, 58-year-old Reinhard Jung, will retire, and will be replaced by Winfried Vahnland, five years his junior. Mr Vahland, who joined the Volkswagen corporation in 1990, has been the head of the firm’s branch in China since 2005.
The Czech Republic lags behind the EU average in penetration of high-speed internet access, according to a report by the European Commission released on Friday. The Czech Republic has 19.1 internet connections per 100 inhabitants, while the EU average is 24.8 percent. The Czech Republic ranks 18th, which is highest of all post-communist countries; since last year, the Czech Republic has moved up a notch, and raised the penetration rate by 2 percent.
The 4th year of the open-air Prague Food Festival opened in the Prague Castle gardens on Friday. The three-day event features some 30 renowned Czech chefs and restaurants; besides Czech cuisine, visitors to the festival can enjoy Asian, Mediterranean, French and kosher dishes, among others. The terrace-structure of the venue on the southern slopes of Prague Castle presented organizational difficulties for the participating restaurants, but that visitors will appreciate the beautiful environment of the castle gardens.
Best-selling Czech singer-songwriter Jaromír Nohavica will perform at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Friday, as part of the Pulse Festival. The event presents musicians and bands from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other central and Eastern European countries to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The festival, which started last week and will go on until the end of the month, also features Czech bands Už jsme doma and Psí vojáci.
Czech tennis player Klára Zakopalová lost 6-3, 6-3 to 22nd seed Justine Henin of Belgium in the second round of the French Open on Friday. The match was interrupted by dusk and rain on Thursday, with Zakopalová losing 3:2 in the second set. On Friday, the 28-year-old Czech began by losing her serve, and eventually lost the match in one hour and 15 minutes. Zakopalová was the last Czech player left in the ladies’ singles at Rolland Garros.
Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt narrowly failed to set a new 300 metres world record before a sell-out crowd of 22,000 at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting on Thursday night. The holder of the world records at 100 and 200 metres ran the distance in 30.97 seconds. The record set in 2000 by Michael Johnson is 30.85 seconds.