The country’s president, Miloš Zeman, was questioned by the Czech anti-corruption police in February over the allegedly fraudulent privatisation of Czech mining company Mostecká uhelná, Czech TV reported a day before a Swiss court began dealing with the case. Six former managers at the company are accused of having illegally transferred 150 million dollars from the firm and of having bought a majority stake in the coal giant for the money. The police suspect them of having conducted the deal at a considerably lower price. The privatisation of Mostecká uhelná took place under the government headed by then-prime minister Miloš Zeman, who told the police that the price was the decisive factor; he dismissed the idea that the state lost any money in the deal.
Cardinal Dominik Duka took part in a commemorative ceremony for Romany victims of the Holocaust at the Lety memorial in southern Bohemia on Monday. The event was attended by a number of foreign ambassadors, cultural dignitaries and Roma representatives. Czech political leaders were notably absent this year, with the exception of the deputy speaker of the Senate Miluše Horská. The Lety memorial, unveiled in 1995 by then president Václav Havel, is situated close to the site of a former concentration camp for Romanies where 300 Romany prisoners lost their lives and from where hundreds of others were transported to the Auschwitz extermination camp. The fact that a pig farm is located on the site of the former camp has been the source of considerable controversy and embarrassment to the Czech government which says it does not have the money to relocate it.
Prague gas workers checked for potential gas leaks across the city over the course of Monday following an explosion in the capital that damaged buildings near the National Theatre earlier this month and injured around 40 people. The amount of an olfactory indicator added to natural gas has been doubled to help residents detect leaks. Anyone in Prague suspecting a leak should call line 1239.
In related news, a gas leak was detected on Monday not far from Prague’s Main Station. Gas leaked for several dozen minutes, officials said, after someone dismantled a gas tap at a nearby abandoned building. The leak was stopped by workers from the Pražská plynárenská gas company. The discovery of the leak was not connected to checks of gas piping taking place in the city on Monday, a spokesman said; because of the leak, traffic was disrupted for a time at Prague’s Magistrála throughway.
President Miloš Zeman is back at work after suffering from a viral infection, the president’s office has said, stressing he will spend most of the workweek at his desk to further aid his recovery. Mr Zeman attended the opening of the Prague Spring Music Festival on Sunday but was visibly unwell only a few days ago at a ceremony of bringing the crown jewels out of storage. During the official ceremony, the president, who is 69, had to prop himself against a wall to keep from swaying, sparking broad speculation over the cause of the problem.
A public tender for the renovation of the National Museum’s historic main building on Wenceslas Square was launched on Monday. The tender was approved in April by the government and subsequently by the finance and culture ministries. Proposals received will be revealed at the end of August. The main building of the National Museum will retain its historic facade which was designed by architect Josef Schulz, but visitors in the future will be able to enjoy a modern exhibition venue following 21st century trends, representatives have made clear. One of the most prominent elements in the renovation plans is the creation of a tunnel connecting the National Museum’s main building with a sister-site which used to serve as the Parliamentary building in the former Czechoslovakia.
Elementary schools across the country on Monday held a second mock exam to test levels of knowledge and the capabilities of students in grades five and nine. Children are being tested in the Czech language, math, as well as foreign languages. Around 1,000 parents have come out against the exam, claiming it was not objective.
A month after opening, 50,000 visitors will have seen a unique exhibition at Prague’s Obcení dům featuring an almost complete collection of posters by Art Nouveau painter Alfons Mucha. The collection is owned by former tennis great Ivan Lendl. The 50,000th visitor is expected on Tuesday, organisers revealed. Another recent exhibition in Prague that saw similar numbers (almost 49,000 visitors) was one dedicated to the work of 20th century avant garde painter František Kupka. Ivan Lendl : Alfons Mucha continues until the end of July.
The national team will have to beat Norway on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stages at the Ice Hockey World Championship. A loss on Sunday against Team Canada put the Czechs on the brink of being knocked out of the tournament; the squad, however, gained a reprieve with Switzerland’s 3:1 defeat of Norway later on Sunday evening. Norway are a point ahead of the Czechs in their group standings. Switzerland has been the Cinderella story of this year’s championship, remaining the only undefeated team.
For the Boston Bruins, with Czech players David Krejčí and star forward Jaromír Jágr, it will be “do or die” in the final game of their best-of-seven series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Krejčí leads in the playoffs on goals, having scored five (including a hat trick) against Toronto; Jágr managed an assist in Game 6 but has been less of a presence. Toronto, by comparison, has seen strong performances by its goaltender, James Reimer, and players like Phil Kessel, who was key to Toronto’s forcing a seventh game.