A railroad freight station in Prague’s district Žižkov will be transformed into a cultural hub in the future, the minister of culture, Daniel Herman, said on Tuesday after signing a memorandum on cooperation with the city’s authorities. The freight yard, a protected site, is set to house the National Film Archive, while the Museum of Decorative Arts and the National Technical Museum should have exhibition spaces in a functionalist building on the site. However, no agreement has been reached over who will fund the large renovation project.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says Ukraine needs a strong leader but not one of the gangsters who has ruled the country in recent years, even with an angelic smile and beautiful braids; this was evidently a reference to former PM and presidential candidate Yulia Timoshenko. Speaking on a visit to the University of Hradec Králové on Tuesday, Mr. Zeman also said it was not possible to provide financial aid to Ukraine as it would end up in the pockets of oligarchs. In response to a question from a student, he said any armed person entering a government building was a criminal, whether at Kiev’s Majdan or in Donetsk.
The Ministry of Finance has to pay the Czech Syndicate of Journalists CZK 292 million as compensation for a new building the state failed to provide for the organisation. The Prague City Court on Tuesday upheld a ruling to that effect made a year ago by a district court. The ministry’s only avenue of appeal is to the Supreme Court. The dispute dates back to 1967 when the Czechoslovak Syndicate of Journalists transferred two buildings on Prague’s Wenceslas Sq. to the state; the site was used to build the Federal Assembly, while the state committed to providing a replacement building by Jirásek Bridge. It failed to do so and the second site is now home to The Dancing Building.
The recently installed minister of labour and social affairs, Michaela Marksová Tominová, says her ministry has in recent years wasted a billion crowns through the poor management of information technology. Presenting an audit to the media on Tuesday, she said the majority of IT systems at her ministry operated without a contract and that some services were duplicated or even triplicated. Minister Marksová Tominová described the situation as “huge chaos”. Complaints have been filed against two unknown perpetrators over threatening operations and cyber security and fraud.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, is to join his counterparts from Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary at ceremonies in all five countries later this year marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in the states. Mr. Zeman’s foreign affairs spokesman confirmed his participation to the Czech News Agency. While the events in the Visegrad Four countries will take place in their capitals, the German memorial will take place in Leipzig, a city that saw mass demonstrations against the then East German regime in 1989. The Czech Republic will mark the 25th anniversary on November 17, the day that the Velvet Revolution got underway. Details about the event have not been revealed.
Detectives from the police’s organised crime unit raided Czech Post headquarters on Prague’s Politických vězňů and Olšanská streets on Tuesday. Officers arrived at the postal service’s buildings at 6 AM. The state attorney said the raids were linked to an investigation launched in January concerning the manipulation of building contracts; it has now been extended to include a transport contract. A total of 15 people have been charged to date, while four companies are under investigation, including Czech Post. The two post offices have remained open to the public.
Councillors in Brno have voted to sell land to a company that was to have developed it as a site for an Amazon distribution centre. The move comes despite a recent announcement by Amazon’s head of European operations that the internet retail giant had given up on building in Brno and was looking at alternative locations in the region. However, the developer, CTP Invest, said on Tuesday that there was a chance Amazon could in the end go ahead with the distribution centre in the Moravian capital. As well as a change of mind on Amazon’s part, that would also require councillors voting to change Brno’s territorial plan. The centre would create around 1,500 jobs.
Former Czech tennis star Ivan Lendl has sold his collection of posters by Alfons Mucha to a Czech businessman, Richard Fuxa, the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. The deal was already prepared before the exhibition last year of the Mucha posters in Prague’s Obecní Dům. According to the paper the selling price for the collection came to 3.5 million dollars, around 70 million crowns, though that figure was not confirmed by Fuxa. The new owner said that he had plans to exhibit the collection outside the Czech Republic and was also planning to find a permanent home for it but refused to give details. The exhibition of Lendl’s Mucha posters was a major hit last year with 200,000 visitors.
In ice hockey, Kometa Brno has won through to the Czech Extra League finals after beating Sparta Prague 5:4 in the deciding seventh match. Three goals without reply in the second period to put Brno 5:3 ahead decided the encounter in the visitor’s favour. Sparta pulled back one goal in the last period. Kometa Brno will face PSG Zlín in the final with the first game starting on Thursday.
Presidents from at least six countries are expected to attend a two-day conference about the European Union’s Eastern Partnership. The event taking place in Prague on April 24 and 25 should be attended by the presidents of Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Georgia, and Armenia, President Miloš Zeman’s spokesman said on Monday. Participation of Ukraine’s acting president is not certain at the moment. The meeting is likely to focus on Ukraine with continued tension in the country increasing the importance of the EU’s initiative to strengthen links with countries from the former Soviet Union, commented the president’s foreign affairs expert, Hynek Kmoníč. It would be for the meeting to lay out firmer guidelines, he added. Czech EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement and the eastern partnership dossier, Štefan Füle, will be attending the meeting but other top EU leaders are staying away from it, according to media reports.
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