Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Thursday that the government will take a number of steps to help business owners affected by the floods recover their livelihoods. The June 15 deadline for back payments of income taxes has been postponed and owners of businesses damaged by the floods will be freed of the obligation to make advance tax payments for 2013 starting June 30. The premier told the daily Hospodařské noviny that next week the cabinet wants to introduce special low-interest bank loans guaranteed by the government to help with repairs and recovery of small businesses.
The A and the B lines of the Prague metro are in full operation as of Thursday morning, although trains are still not stopping at seven stations that are in the immediate vicinity of the Vltava river. The C line will reopen on Friday, though some stations on that line will remain closed as well. All underground lines had been partly closed since Monday, as a precaution against floodingthat could have resulted from the rise in the water levels of the Vltava River earlier in the week.
The ‘Chrastava shooter’ Pavel Vondrouš was handed down a half-year suspended sentence at a court in Liberec on Thursday. The prosecution accused him of endangering a public figure after he shot at the former president Václav Klaus with an Airsoft pellet gun last year in the town of Chrastava. In the end the court sentenced him for disorderly conduct. In his closing statement before sentencing, Mr Vondrouš said that he does not feel guilty and that he carried out his act not just for himself but for other Czechs who are suffering and are being overlooked by politicians. Former president Klaus, who only suffered minor bruising in the attack, was not present at the court hearing.
President Miloš Zeman has met with the ambassador of Azerbaijan on Thursday in an attempt to improve relations, which were threatened by recent remarks made by the Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. President Zeman felt that Mr Schwarzenberg’s remarks that Azerbaijan is a “family dictatorship” could negatively affect business interests of Czech companies in the Central Asian country. He met with the Azeri ambassador to discuss steps to ease tensions and improve relations between the two countries.
The Prague Biennale began on Thursday at the functionalist complex of the defunct freight railway station Žižkov in Prague. Among the artists representing the Czech Republic at the exhibit are Helena Hladilová, Jakub Nepraš and Luděk Rathouský. This sixth edition of the Prague Biennale will run until September 15. The Žižkov railway staition, which was built in 1936, has been recently given the status of a national heritage site and will be used in the future by cultural institutions and non-profit organizations.
A Czech man, Martin Psota, attempted to get from Taiwan to Japan on a makeshift raft before being picked up by the coast guards. Mr Psota had overstayed his tourist visa in Taiwan and had no money to buy ticket to leave the island. He told his rescuers he was inspired to attempt the journey by the movie Life of Pi, but that after an hour he began to be tired from rowing and his raft began to fall apart. Taiwanese authorities have placed Mr Psota in custody, pending payment of a fine.
The Czech team of Lucie Hradecká and František Čermák won the mixed doubles tournament at the Roland Garros French Open on Thursday. The pair faced a French-Canadian team of Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic. After losing the first set 6-1, recovered and finished off the match 6:4, 10:6. This is the first time a Czech team has won the mixed doubles at the French Open since 1991. Hradecká and Čermák appeared as a team at this year’s Australian Open, where they reached the final. Hradecká has another doubles match ahead of her in Paris. She will be joining her other partner Andrea Hlaváčková in the women’s doubles semi-finals on Friday against a Russian duo.
The Boston Bruins, with players David Krejčí and Jaromír Jágr, are a win away from making the Stanley Cup finals after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 2:1 on Wednesday to take a commanding 3:0 series lead. The winning goal was scored by Patrice Bergeron in 2nd overtime on a play begun by Jágr against the boards. The 41-year-old Czech legend dug the puck out from Malkin, passing to Marchand who set up Bergeron for the winner. Goalie Tomáš Vokoun, who stopped 38 shots on the night, had little chance. In the playoffs, the Bruins’ Jágr, who has two Stanley Cup rings from more than two decades ago, has been effective at key moments; his teammate, David Krejčí, leads the postseason on points. So far he has scored nine goals and racked up 12 assists.
Although water in the Labe river has stopped rising in most areas south of
Litoměřice, north Bohemian towns of Děčín and Ústí nad Labem await
the river's peak on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Both towns have
been increasing flooded, as the Labe overflows the flood walls set up on
the embankments. Access to bridges, railroad stations and most streets
that run along the river are under water.
Distribution of electricity, gas and in some cases even running water in
parts of both
towns has been limited.
So far, this week’s floods in the Czech Republic claimed eight lives and some 19,000 people had to leave their homes. Some 31 thousand people around the country lost access to drinking water in their places of residence in the past four days, after flood water contaminated 636 wells and 72 public waterways.
The water levels of the Labe have not been rising in the town of Litoměřice, although it is not definite yet that they have reached their peak. Officials at the Lovochemie chemical plant in the nearby town of Lovosice decided not to release water into the complex despite the leaking flood barriers. The industrial complex, which produces chemical fertilizers, is now out of danger and the prime minister praised the company’s management for doing everything to avoid any damage to the environment. The Lovochemie complex was flooded in 2002 causing damage worth around 200 million crowns.