The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, is due to arrive in Prague on Tuesday evening for a short visit. Mr. Barroso will be welcomed by the Czech president, Miloš Zeman. On Wednesday morning the two officials will raise the flag of the European Union above Prague Castle; the move will signal a marked change from the era of the previous Czech president, Václav Klaus, who refused to fly the EU flag. President Zeman will also sign an addendum to the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty enabling the creation of a rescue fund, which is also something that his eurosceptic predecessor refused to do.
A former senator for the Civic Democrats must begin serving a prison term, a court in the north Bohemian town of Chomutov ruled on Tuesday. Alexandr Novák, who is also a former mayor of Chomutov, had been avoiding going to jail on health grounds. However, the court found that he was not too ill to serve a four-year term for corruption. Police arrested Mr. Novák at his office shortly after the court’s verdict was announced on Tuesday and brought him to Pankrác prison in Prague.
The Central Bohemian Regional Court in Prague has refused to allow MP David Rath, who has been in custody for the best part of a year, out on bail. Last month, relatives of Mr. Rath’s posted bail of CZK 2 million set by a lower court; however, the state attorney filed a challenge against the procedure and it was evidently upheld by Tuesday’s decision. The former Social Democrat governor of Central Bohemia and a one-time health minister, Mr. Rath was arrested in May 2012 on corruption charges.
The police have recommended that a charge of attempted murder be filed against influential Prague businessman Roman Janoušek. Mr. Janoušek was arrested last year after, in a state of apparent inebriation, knocking down another driver and speeding away. He currently faces charges of intentional grievous bodily harm. The businessman, who is believed to have been close to former mayor Pavel Bém and other politicians, could face up to 18 years in jail if found guilty of attempted murder. The state attorney is due to decide on how to proceed in the case by the middle of next month.
The Czech Republic and other European states share a view of the conflict between Palestine and Israel, but they cannot reach agreement on how to achieve peace in the Middle East, the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, said after a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Maliki, in Prague on Tuesday. Mr. Schwarzenberg said he agreed with his visitor that Palestine should become a real state, but said the two differed on tactics. The Czech Republic is commonly considered an ally of Israel and in December was the only EU member to vote at the UN against granting observer status to the Palestinians.
The number of native speakers teaching English or other languages in Czech schools has fallen dramatically since the 1990s, iDnes.cz reported on Tuesday. The news website said that young foreigners are less interested in spending time in the Czech Republic, while schools cannot afford them and are also more selective when it comes to hiring. An annual report from the national schools inspection agency says the share of native speakers in schools today is “almost imperceptible” compared to the 1990s. However, some 3 percent of English teachers are native speakers, as are 5.5 percent of German teachers.
The percentage of senior citizens in Czech society is on the rise. However, it is still below the EU average. That is according to a Eurostat study quoted by the Czech News Agency. The survey, carried out between 1992 and 2012, found that the portion of over 65s in the Czech Republic grew from 19.1 percent to 23.4 percent over the decade in question. However, the EU average climbed to 26.8 percent in the same period.
Prague’s Aero cinema is planning to show a series of films from 1998 as part of events to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its establishment. Between April 4 and April 7, the arthouse cinema in the city’s Žižkov district will be screening movies such as The Big Lebowski and Run Lola Run. Its organisers also run the capital’s Oko and Světozor picture houses, while the company Aerofilms is a significant distributor on the Czech market.
The Czech international soccer goalkeeper Petr Čech has received plaudits for a remarkable save he made for Chelsea in an FA Cup victory against Manchester United on Monday. With Chelsea leading 1:0, Čech somehow managed to paw away a close-range header from Javier Hernandez for one of the saves of the season in England. Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described it as “incredible”, while numerous pundits have praised the Czech’s reflex stop.
Forecasters are warning of further heavy snows in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Between three and 15 centimetres are expected to fall in half of the country’s regions, chiefly in the east of the country, with up to 25 centimetres of fresh snow expected in mountainous areas. Heavy snow on the holiday weekend disrupted road and rail transport in the eastern Czech Republic.