In view of the need to economize, the three parties in talks on setting up a centre-right coalition government - the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs - have agreed to significantly reduce the number of committees in the lower chamber. They also decided on Monday to lower the number of deputy chairpersons in the chamber from five to three. The position of house chairman or chairwoman will go to a Civic Democrat, and the deputy posts to TOP 09 Public Affairs, and also to the Social Democrats, who are headed for the opposition. The Civic Democrats’ new first deputy Miroslava Němcová is being slated as a strong favourite for the post of house speaker; the newly-elected lower house of Parliament is to meet for its first session on Tuesday.
The heads of the three parties negotiating on the government will ask outgoing finance minister Eduard Janota for written confirmation that the Czech Republic will not be in danger of facing arbitration proceedings if it fails to choose a winner in a controversial environmental tender. The so-called super-tender - worth an estimated 115 billion crowns – merges hundreds of smaller projects on cleaning up the environment, but has been strongly criticised by both activists and politicians for being potentially open to corruption. One of the parties negotiating on the new government, TOP 09, is in favour of scrapping the tender outright. The Finance Minister Janota suggested earlier that cancelling it would leave the country open to being sued by firms taking part. Instead, he floated the idea that the government could simply fail to choose a final winner. Three firms out of an original six are in the running; a final decision on bids has to be taken by early December.
The office of the Czech president has revealed that President Vaclav Klaus pardoned ten people on Monday, in most of the cases for “humanitarian reasons”. The news was released by the president’s spokesman. Most of those pardoned were incriminated in the past for fraud, theft, or other crimes. One of those is Jaroslav Prokop, who seriously injured another person while behind the wheel of his car; he himself suffered injury and is now paralysed from the waist down. Two others pardoned are foreign nationals: a Kazakh man who was to be deported in connection with having committed grievous bodily harm, and a Ukrainian man who was caught driving under the influence.
The actor Vladimír Dlouhý, well-known for roles in both film and the theatre, has died at the age of 52; he had suffered a short bout with serious illness, his family reported. Dlouhý was recognised for his talent early after studying at the Prague Conservatory. He starred in his first film in 1970 (Už zase skáču přes kaluže) directed by the late Karel Kachyňa. He went on to land roles in children’s favourites Give the Devil his Due and the TV series Arabela, as well as films such as Boomerang and The Buttoners. He had recently completed work on a final film, Kájínek – about an infamous Czech prison escapee – directed by first-time director Petr Jákl.
The government has put forward Iva Ritschelová, the rector of Jan Evangelista University in Ústí nad Labem, as a candidate to head the Czech Statistical Office. If appointed by the Czech president, she will replace Jiří Křovák, the acting chairman who followed Jan Fischer in the post after the latter became interim prime minister last spring. Mrs Ritschelová, who is 46, has not commented the decision. The university rector is an expert in macroeconomic aspects of protection of the environment and in environmental economy and policy. As a specialist she has worked with a number of foreign institutions as well as took part in UN missions in places such as Kosovo, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Work on extending Prague’s green line or Metro line A was officially launched on Monday by the city’s Mayor Pavel Bém. The mayor deposited a symbolic figurine of St Barbora – the patron saint of architects – at the head of the new tunnel, which will join Prague’s Dejvice district with Motol in four years. The extension will stretch the subway system by six kilometres, creating four new stations: Červený vrh, Veleslavín, Petřiny and Motol. The cost of the project has been estimated at 19 billion crowns; eight of those are expected to come from European funds. City councillor Radovan Šteiner said on Monday that the project would be a major benefit, not least to those making use of Motol Hospital. The extension will probably not be the last for Metro A: five more stops have been projected for the future, leading to Prague’s international airport. City hall would like to see those completed by 2018.
A Czech film entitled Mezi Nimi (Among Them) dealing with the issue of HIV infection and AIDs will reportedly be made available for free on the internet after its June 23 premiere. The filmmakers behind the project, including director David Vigner and producer Jaromír Chobot, are reportedly hoping that the move will give younger viewers a chance to learn about the importance of safe sex. Some in the film business have questioned the move which producer Jaromír Chobot admitted was only realistic in low-budget projects, a chance, he said for filmmakers at the start of their careers to show their talent.
A 54-year-old miner was fatally injured on Monday at a mine in the Karvina area, after falling down a 16-metre deep shaft. The accident took place at the ČSM mine at around noon and the police are investigating if negligence in safety was a factor. The death was the second at the mine this year: in February another man died about a kilometre below ground when he was injured by heavy machinery.
A driver on the D5 highway was killed on Monday afternoon after stepping out of his vehicle and into the road where he was struck by a passing lorry. Police are investigating the circumstances of the man’s death. The driver of the truck has maintained the other man threw himself under the vehicle on purpose. As a result of the tragedy, traffic on that part of the roadway stopped for roughly two hours
Teenage striker Matěj Vydra has joined Serie A side Udinese from Baník Ostrava on a five-year deal, the ČTK news agency said on Monday, quoting his agent Ondřej Chovanec. Ostrava will get around four million euros (roughly five million US dollars) for the player, which makes him one of the most expensive Czech footballers ever, the agency said. The 18-year-old, who only made his first appearance in the Czech first division in January, scored four times in 14 matches for Ostrava. Vydra, who passed his medical examination at Udinese last week Thursday, expressed surprise over how quick the deal came together.