The extreme cold, in all likelihood, took the life a homeless man early on Saturday morning: he was found dead near a supermarket in Prague 8. The man was around 50 years of age. An autopsy will be needed to determine the exact cause of death. A day earlier in Prague a man of around 42 died at a metro entrance in Zličín. Alcohol consumption, together with the freezing conditions, were the key factors.
The former head of the Christian Democratic Party and ex-foreign minister Cyril Svoboda will reportedly not continue in a post he held for 16 years: a member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law, the Czech newspaper Právo reported. According to the daily, Mr Svoboda’s mandate ended in October and the current foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, is favouring a new candidate: 45-year-old Veronika Bílková of the Prague Institute of International Relations. Mr Svoboda told the newspaper he was not surprised by the development, suggesting he did not have strong support from the current leadership. He stressed that the EC post was not a paid position, although there were travel-related expenses around four times a year.
Almost half of Czech hospitals – 80 out of 164 that provided information – finished in the red in the first half of 2010, statisticians reported. Out of the 80, more than half saw losses greater than 5 million crowns. But all hospitals together finished with a positive result of 148 million crowns. Expenses for Czech hospitals totaled 62.4 billion crowns, returns 62.5. Next year, hospitals will get around two percent less in financing than in 2010, which over the year will a difference of around two billion crowns. Individual facilities will have to make up the difference from internal funds, meaning they will not be in a position to raise salaries.
Social Democrat delegates in the region of Pardubice have suggested they will prefer Bohuslav Sobotka to be the party’s next leader, over rival Michal Hašek. At the regional conference on Saturday, 71 out of 103 local delegates gave the acting leadetheir vote. All the same, Mr Hašek received 54 – meaning some delegates voted for both men. The Social Democratic Party will officially elect its next leader at its party congress in March 2011, in Brno.
A 73-year-old Czech man, convicted of a number of crimes before 1978 but with a clean record since, was arrested in the capital on Friday for holding up a Prague bank. Právo reported that the suspect was apprehended less than 20 minutes after demanding money from a teller and leaving the premises. Witnesses kept an eye on the suspect and called the police. During the bank job, the would-be robber, who was carrying a firearm, fired one shot in the air to cow bystanders; no one was hurt in the incident. Police suspect the man may have hit the same bank a year ago; if found guilty, he could face up to ten years in prison.
Meteorologists on Saturday issued a warning over smog levels in Central Bohemia, saying the concentration of airborne dust particles had exceeded the limit of 110 micrograms per cubic metre. Recorded was around 114. Specialists at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute could issue an order later on Saturday requiring industries in the area to cut-back on production until the quality of the air improves. Individuals with a history of heart or other health problems, the elderly and children who go outside are cautioned to avoid physical exertion.
Czech hockey forward Martin Havlát, who plays for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, earned one assist and scored the tying goal against Calgary on Friday to help his team head to overtime and later to penalties. However, the Wild lost in the shootout. The final score was 3:2. Havlát has been on a productive streak, earning 16 points in 11 games.
A Prague court has refused bail for former Ukrainian economy minister
Bohdan Danylyshyn who was detained in Prague earlier this year on an
Interpol arrest warrant. The former minister, who is accused of abuse of
office at home, had offered 250,000 crowns in bail and a pledge that he
would not try to leave the country. Czech Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg recently confirmed that Mr. Danylyshyn has asked for
political asylum in the Czech Republic.
Danylyshyn is not the first member of the former administration to face such charges – several other former high ranking-officials have been the target of similar accusations since Yulia Tymoshenko’s long-time opponent Viktor Yanukovich defeated her in a tight presidential race in January of this year. The opposition says the charges are part of a political vendetta against Tymoshenko’s party.
Prague councilor Lukáš Plachý has resigned from office following allegations of corruption. The Social Democrat councilor offered his resignation just days after being sworn in, after being accused of having offered another party member a bribe. Mr. Plachý claims he is innocent and wants to clear his name. The mayor, Bohuslav Svoboda, has welcomed the decision saying that the post would remain unfilled until the matter was resolved.
The situation on Czech roads is slowly returning to normal following two days of severe problems due to heavy snowfall. The vast majority of roads have now been cleared and traffic along the country’s highways is slowly returning to normal. Prague’s main international airport is fully operational. Complications are expected in the eastern part of the country, Moravia, which may get another 20 centimeters of fresh snow in the course of the day. Meanwhile the western part of the country is bracing for an Arctic weekend with temperatures expected to drop to minus 25 degrees Celsius.