The head of the TOP 09 party, Karel Schwarzenberg, has confirmed speculation that a former governor of the Czech National Bank, Zdeněk Tůma, will be their top candidate on the Prague ballot in local elections to take place in October. Mr Schwarzenberg said on Wednesday that while it had not been easy to convince Mr Tůma to run for the post, he had eventually agreed to become the party’s candidate for Prague mayor. Zdeněk Tůma headed the Czech National Bank for more than ten years before resigning in June. Before that he served as an advisor to the minister of industry and trade and as the executive director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
A team of Czech and Austrian police officers will investigate possible
corruption linked to the purchase of armored cars from an Austrian firm by
the Czech Ministry of Defense, the daily Mladá fronta dnes reported. The
Czech supreme state attorney, Renata Vesecká, confirmed that a joint
investigation would be discussed between members of the two country’s
police forces on Thursday.
In February, Mladá fronta dnes published transcriptions of video recordings featuring two former executives from the company Steyr who said they had set aside two to three percent of the contract as kickbacks for the two strongest Czech political parties. The purchase of 107 Pandur armored personnel carriers was one of the biggest acquisitions in the history of the Czech army.
The opposition Social Democrats are set to present their shadow cabinet on Wednesday. Social Democrats acting leader Bohuslav Sobotka said that it would be one of social responsibility. He said the party would aim at providing an assertive and rigorous opposition to the government coalition of fiscal responsibilty. Mr Sobotka added that the Social Democrats will try to push through reforms that distribute the tax burden more evenly across both higher and lower income earners. Other areas that the opposition cabinet is planning to engage in are anti-corruption measures and the pension reform. The Social Democrats came first in elections in May, but were unable to find coalition partners.
According to experts from the American Cancer Society, the Czech Republic’s tobacco tax is too low and does not cover the state’s expenses related to smoking. Hana Ross, the strategic director of the society’s International Tobacco Control Research Program, told journalists on Wednesday that the price of cigarettes in the Czech Republic was much lower than the European average. She added that increasing the price of cigarettes and banning smoking in bars and restaurants were amongst the most efficient measures in fighting the dangers of smoking.
According to a survey published by the STEM agency, Czechs are divided on the issue whether the newly formed government will bring greater stability to the country. While 48 percent of Czechs believe that the new center-right coalition will address the country’s problems long-term, 52 percent do not. Among those surveyed, people who had voted in the recent lower house elections tended to have a more positive view of the new government than those who had not.
Four films that are part of the Czech documentary series “Children of Stalinism” are scheduled to make their US premiere on July 27 at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. The series, which is made up of seven parts, captures audiovisual testimonies of 37 children of Czech political prisoners jailed in the 1950s. The documentary cycle was shot by students of the Prague film school FAMU under the supervision of renowned documentary director Helena Třeštíková and was co-produced by Czech Television and Sunfilms. It won the European Commission’s “Golden Star 2008” award.
Performances by American bassist Stanley Clarke and Japanese pianist Hiromi Uehara kicked off the first night of the Bohemia Jazz Fest in Prague on Tuesday. Thousands of visitors crowded the capital’s Old Town Square for the festival’s opening concert. Bohemia Jazz Fest brings international stars of the jazz scene to seven Czech towns and cities. Concerts are free of charge and take place in the open-air. Last year, some 60,000 visitors attended the festival.
A new novel by the Italian writer Umberto Eco, The Cemetery of Prague, will be published in Czech translation in the fall of 2011. The novel is set in the Prague of the 19th century; a key place in the novel is the Jewish cemetery in the Czech capital. Among the main characters are spies and politicians. The Cemetery of Prague is the sixth novel of the author of the famous The Name of the Rose. It will be published in English in October 2011.
Across the Czech Republic, record temperatures have been observed in recent days, and the hot weather is likely to continue until the end of the month. The Prague-based meteorology service Meteopress forecasts that the country will see temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius every day in July and possibly until mid-August. The heat has also lead to road damages. Police had to close down a nine kilometer stretch of a motorway connecting Prague and Plzeň on Wednesday, because the heat had warped the road.