President Miloš Zeman says he would like to meet the rector of Charles
University, Václav Hampl, to discuss his objections to appointing
Martin C. Putna, who teaches there, professor. Mr. Zeman said on Friday
that he would not confer the title on Mr. Putna and that if he wanted to
know why Mr. Putna could take him to court. Czech Television reported that
the president’s objections to making the academic – who was opposed to
his candidacy for head of state – a professor stem from the latter’s
participation in a
gay pride march. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Petr Nečas has called on Mr.
to explain his opposition to Mr. Putna.
Some people have called for the removal of the (usually purely formal) power to name professors, which dates back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from the head of state.
Speaking at an annual memorial ceremony on the site of the former Terezín concentration camp in central Bohemia on Sunday, President Zeman warned against succumbing to manipulation. He said if people allowed themselves to be manipulated they would become like sheep. The president pointed to the intellectuals who had been duped on visits to the Soviet Union and also mentioned the effect of Nazi propaganda. The Nazis forced around 155,000 Jews to go to Terezín (Theresienstadt); around two-thirds of them did not survive the war.
The number of home births in the Czech Republic has increased markedly in the last two decades, the Czech News Agency reported, quoting a head doctor at a leading Prague hospital. While in 1990 only 16 babies were born at home with the assistance of a midwife, that figure had risen to 150 in 2009. The highest number occur in Prague, while the fewest take place in the Zlín region in South Moravia. Czech health insurance companies refuse to cover home births.
An exhibition of the Czech crown jewels at Prague Castle came to an end on Sunday; they are set to be returned to their vault in St. Vitus’ Cathedral on Monday. Tens of thousands of people have queued to see the treasures since they went on display on May 10 in connection with the inauguration of a new Czech president earlier this year. The collection consists of the gold, jewel-encrusted St. Wenceslas crown, the St. Wenceslas sword, the royal orb and sceptre, the coronation cloak, the coronation cross and other items.
The head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew I, is set to begin a four-day visit to the Czech Republic on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Czech Roman Catholic Church said on Saturday. The patriarch is coming to the country in connection with celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of the Orthodox missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius in Moravia. Patriarch Bartholomew blessed an Orthodox church in Šumperk in 1998 and returned to the Czech Republic the following year to attend Forum 2000 at the invitation of Václav Havel.
The Czech top flight soccer club Baník Ostrava will go bankrupt if the council in the north Moravian city does not vote to purchase Baník’s Bazaly ground at an extraordinary meeting on Monday. The club, whose history stretches back 90 years, would be expelled from the first division. Baník’s stadium is valued at around CZK 115. Some councillors have said they will not support its purchase and the coalition that governs in the city is said to be divided on the matter.
The Czech men’s tennis number one, Tomáš Berdych, was knocked out in the semi-finals of the Italian Open by Rafael Nadal on Saturday evening. The Spaniard made light work of the world number six, who had overcome Novak Djokovic in the fourth round, beating him 6-2 6-4 in Rome. Berdych, who is 27, has only beaten Nadal three times in 16 encounters and has never beaten him on clay.
Saturday is the 90th anniversary of the first regular broadcast by Czechoslovak, later Czech, Radio. An open day with free guided tours was held at the station’s back-to-back buildings on Vinohradská and Římská streets in central Prague from 9:00 to 17:00 as part of a series of events held to mark the moment at 20:15 on May 18, 1923 when the station launched regular broadcasts from a tent in the city’s Kbely district. Czech Radio’s flagship station Radiožurnál is set to interview 90 special guests in a special broadcast live from Wenceslas Square that begins at 20:15 on Saturday and runs for 48 hours.
Politicians from across the political spectrum have criticised President Miloš Zeman’s refusal to name academic Martin C. Putna professor. Mr. Zeman has refused to explain his opposition to conferring the title on Mr. Putna, who opposed his candidacy for president. The leader of the president’s own former party the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, said the liberal Miloš Zeman of 1989 would not have understood the position of the Miloš Zeman of 2013. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg of TOP 09, who ran against Mr. Zeman for head of state, said his actions were the continuation of the policies of the Nazi protectorate and Communist leader Klement Gottwald.
Meanwhile, the abbot of Strahov Monastery in Prague, Michael Josef Pojezdný, has praised Mr. Zeman for refusing to appoint Mr. Putna, who is a practising Roman Catholic, professor. However, it is unclear why the abbot – who reportedly made the comments during a meeting with Mr. Zeman on another matter – has backed the president, as he has refused to speak to the media. This has led to speculation that it may be because of Mr. Putna’s liberal politics or the fact that he is openly homosexual. Academics have also been up in arms, with the rector of Prague’s Charles University, Václav Hampl, saying that Mr. Zeman would need to have very serious reasons for not naming Mr. Putna professor; otherwise the move would represent an unacceptable intervention.