The Prague chapter of the Civic Democratic Party met on Saturday to discuss its platform for upcoming local elections and its work at city hall over the last four years. The meeting did not result in the announcement of who would be the party’s candidate for mayor of Prague. The only mention of the issue was made by the sitting mayor and former chairman of the party’s Prague chapter, Pavel Bém, who said in a speech to the assembly that there were several potential mayors in the room. The current chairman, Boris Šťastný, wants to discuss the selection with Prime Minister and Civic Democrat Petr Nečas, who has criticised him for a lack of activity on the question. Local elections in the Czech Republic are to be held in October.
The opposition Social Democrat and Communist parties say that the candidates being considered for the post of ombudsman are worse than in the first vote. Both parties had supported the former deputy ombudsman Anna Šabatová, who lost by a few votes and was not re-nominated by the Senate. The two parties will decide on who to put their votes behind at meetings of their parliamentary clubs on Tuesday. The heads of the coalition parties have recommended that their members of parliament support former constitutional judge Pavel Varvařovský, who will win the post if they do so on Tuesday.
Hundreds of former political prisoners from the Czech Republic and Slovakia have gathered at the pilgrimage site of Svatý Hostýn to commemorate deceased dissidents. Another roughly 2000 visitors attended a mass held by the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka. Archbishop Duka recalled that there were more than a quarter of a million political prisoners in former Czechoslovakia, and that the event was a vote of thanks for their freedom. 2,400 former political prisoners are still alive today, according to the Confederation of Czech Political Prisoners, which organised the event.
The Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute reports that August saw twice the average precipitation in the Czech Republic, at 150 litres per square metre. Northern Bohemia received three times the average rainfall, with 230 litres, roughly a quarter of the annual precipitation for the region. The least amount of rain was in north Moravia, which still got 150% of the average. The heavy rains brought flooding in parts of the country in August, particularly in the regions of Liberec and Ústí nad Labem, where damages have been estimated at six billion crowns.
Amid numerous closings of Czech embassies around the world, plans have been announced to establish a Czech centre in the German town of Düsseldorf in the autumn. The centre will house a Czech consulate, promotional office and branches of the agencies CzechTrade, CzechInvest and CzechTourism in what is envisioned as a sort of local headquarters for Czech trade, culture and tourism in an important industrial area in Germany to replace more expensive individual buildings. Germany is one of the Czech Republic’s most vital partners for trade.
The largest industrial companies in the region of Moravia-Silesia are asking the state for billions of crowns worth of subsidies for eco-projects to improve the region’s environment. A meeting on the issue at the town hall in Ostrava on Friday agreed that the environmental conditions in the region could be improved within two years through four billion crowns earmarked for the purpose from the State Environmental Fund. Representatives of the Environmental Ministry believe major polluters like the metallurgical company ArcelorMittal Ostrava have good chances of receiving the financing. The ecological situation in and around the city of Ostrava is said to be one of the worst in Europe.
Actor, singer and translator Rudolf Peller died on Saturday at the age of 87. Mr Pellar was well-known for dozens of translations of English language and German novels, such as the work of J. D. Salinger. Together with his wife he was awarded the State Prize for translation in 1997. He was however a person of many artistic talents; aside from his frequent performances in some of Prague’s best known theatres and in some films, Rudolf Peller also recorded songs in the 50s and 60s, and studied chanson singing at conservatory in the 1970s. His first album was only released when he was 80 years old, as he had been banned from performing during communism.
The Sun in a Glass festival is expecting to host more microbreweries in one place than ever before, with 43 registered so far. 150 different beers will be presented at the festival, which begins September 18 at the Purkmistr restaurant in Plzeň Téměř. Organisers say the majority of the brewers will be small restaurants and publicans producing 200 to 1000 hectolitres a year. Each will present three or four types of beer. Two larger breweries and three Bavarian microbreweries will also be attending.
Meanwhile the festival Dvořák’s Prague comes to a close on Saturday with a concert by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra led by the young French conductor Ludovic Morlot in Rudolfinum. French pianist Cédric Tiberghien will be performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, while the music of Dvořák will be represented by the prelude Husitská and Symphony No. 7. One of the aims of the festival is to introduce with young musicians who have garnered success elsewhere but are little known in the Czech Republic.
Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra has suggested that the number of Czech soldiers serving in Kosovo could be reduced under plans he will present to the government, while the number serving on the ISAF mission in Afghanistan would be bolstered. He made the statement on Friday after meeting with Czech President Václav Klaus, making clear soldiers were no longer as needed in Kosovo. The Czech Republic has around 500 personnel there and the number could be reduced by around 50. The defence minister made clear that Afghanistan would remain an important priority for the next three years. NATO has asked for an increase in military and police units there to train local security. The Czech Republic has around 530 personnel in the Islamic republic.