The Czech men’s tennis team have achieved an historic sporting success after beating Spain 3:2 on matches in a dramatic Davis Cup final in front of 13,000 fans at a sold-out O2 Arena in Prague. The Czechs secured victory when veteran Radek Štěpánek beat Nicolas Almagro 6-4 7-6 3-6 6-3 in the final singles rubber of the weekend. The Czech Republic had only won the competition once in the past, while still part of Czechoslovakia in 1980. The Czech women’s team won the Fed Cup in the same venue two weeks ago and it is the first time that the country has held the two prestigious team titles simultaneously.
The minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, has described an anti-government protest by trade unions on Saturday, which was the Czech Republic’s national day of the fight for freedom and democracy and the anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution, as shameless. Mr. Kalousek made the comment on a television debate programme on Sunday. He said the demonstration had been legitimate but that the government was not willing to implement a socialist programme. On a different TV show the chairman of the Senate Milan Štěch, who is a former trade unions leader, said the sentiments expressed in the protest, which was held beneath a banner reading Stop the Government, were shared by most Czechs.
The Ministry of Finance has presented the government with a new draft budget for next year. Because of a worsening of the macroeconomic outlook the budget figures with incomes and expenditures that are CZK 4.1 billion lower than originally planned. The new version projects a deficit of CZK 100 billion and the deficit is expected to remain at 2.9 percent of gross domestic project. The government will present the budget for approval by the Chamber of Deputies on November 23.
CEZ has complied with the ruling of a court in the Albanian capital Tirana to reconnect electricity supplies to the country’s state-owned water utilities, which owe the Czech power giant 38 million euros, a spokesperson said. The company had disconnected the water utilities on Friday after negotiations had failed to retrieve the debt. The move had put some petrol stations out of action and led to a cut in the supply of water to households and firms. Albanian police on Saturday forced CEZ employees to reconnect the power supply. CEZ has not ruled out taking the issue to a court of arbitration if the debt is not settled.
A man of 75 died on Saturday after being shot during a hunt near the Moravian town of Třebíč. Police are investigating which of the other members of the hunting party shot the man. The shooter could face a charge of killing by negligence, which carries a sentence of three years. Elsewhere a 19-year-old shot and slightly injured a 59-year-old man during a hunt near Přerov, which is also in Moravia.
Around 100 families in the Czech Republic had lunch with the families of immigrants on Sunday as part of a nationwide project named Family Next Door, which was being held for the ninth time. Organisers say they try to match families according to categories like age, education or profession and the age of their children. A spokesperson for the project said that around three fifths of the people who have taken part in the past are still meeting even some years after their initial lunch together.
Two new documentary films on the great Czech composer Bedřich Smetana by director Pavel P. Ries are being premiered at Prague’s Světozor cinema on Sunday evening. The first, which features acted sequences, looks at the life of the writer of My Country, while the second is focused on improvements made to his tomb at Prague’s Vyšehrad; it was renovated in the 1980s and there are currently plans to repair it again.
Events have been held in the Czech Republic to mark the country’s day of the fight for freedom and democracy, which is a state holiday. On Saturday morning the Czech president, Václav Klaus, the prime minister, Petr Nečas, and other senior state officials took part in a ceremony at a Prague hall of residence where there is a memorial to student victims of Nazi persecution in 1939. A march commemorating those students sparked the beginning of the Velvet Revolution on November 17 1989 and people on Saturday also gathered and lit candles at a memorial at the spot where riot police attacked participants on Prague’s Národní St.
In an address, President Klaus said gatherings such as the one at the student dormitory were held to ensure that people did not forget the past. He said he was concerned that Czechs were now living in what he would characterise as an era of “forgetting and gestures”. Mr. Klaus said he would not describe contemporary society as an information society but rather as an “uninformed society” in which traditional values were being damaged and defiled, adding that gestures and words were being applauded, not actions and principled and consistent behavior. Later, at the memorial on Národní St., the president was met by supporters and opponents; members of the pro-Klaus D.O.S.T. group shouted long live Klaus, while a young man carrying a Czech flag declared that the president was a thief who had robbed and sold off the country.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said with regard to Saturday’s events linked to resistance in the past to Nazism and Communism that Czech people had not lost and would not lose their historical memory. He said the fact that freedom and democracy were not taken for granted in the Czech Republic was constantly being confirmed. Mr. Nečas also said that the success of the Communist Party in recent regional and Senate elections represented a certain “memento”, the Czech News Agency reported.