Former Soviet political prisoner Mikhail Kukobaka says he does not understand why the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, supports the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Speaking on a visit to Prague on Wednesday on the eve of the anniversary of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion, the one-time dissident said he could not understand how Mr. Zeman, knowing recent Czech history, could back Mr. Putin, whom he dubbed the greatest enemy of democracy.
The Czech Republic’s economy began growing last year but many people in the country are living close to poverty, according to the latest annual report from the international organisation Social Watch. The country lost some years in its efforts to catch up on average European Union gross domestic product but the current situation means hopes of convergence have been reawakened, according to the study’s co-author Ilona Švihlíková. She said since 2006 foreign companies had drawn more dividends out of the Czech economy than they had invested, which is one reason that pay rises are lagging behind profits.
There is speculation that the governing coalition at Prague City Hall could collapse with a new alliance of ANO and TOP 09 a possibility, iDnes.cz reported on Wednesday. The news site said that bookmakers were offering low odds of 1:45 to 1 on Mayor Adriana Krnáčová being no longer in the post by November 1. She has been in dispute with city government members the Three Coalition over a change in building regulations; a Three Coalition councilor was responsible for drafting the changes, only for Ms. Krnáčová to push through her own version last week. Representatives of their two parties and the third coalition member, the Social Democrats, are due to hold talks on Thursday.
Archaeologists have discovered a fragment of mammoth tusk in Olomouc. Vlastimil Staněk from the city’s branch of the national landmarks authority said the discovery had been made on a dig at the turn of June and July at a site where apartments are to be built. Mr. Staněk said that while Olomouc lay on a migratory route for mammoths the tusk fragment was one of the few such finds ever made during archaeological research.
A man who fell asleep on railway tracks in a state of inebriation in Olomouc was lucky to escape injury when a train passed over him at around 11 PM on Tuesday, the Czech News Agency reported. The man, who is 53, was unaware of the incident when he came to. Police officers picked the man up after being alerted by the driver of the train, who pulled on the brakes after spotting him, and he spent the rest of the night in a drunk tank.
An exhibition of work by the great Czech photographer Jan Lukas has opened in Prague, a week after the 100th anniversary of his birth. The show at the Artinbox gallery, entitled People, includes photos taken in Czechoslovakia in the interwar years, in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and in the United States, where Lukas lived for four decades until his death in 2006. The exhibition runs until October 6.
The network of mobile operator O2 collapsed in many parts of the Czech Republic for around two hours on Wednesday morning. Customers were not able to connect to the internet or make calls, while O2’s own website also went down. A spokesperson for the operator said the cause of the network failure had been damage to an optic cable. Users were told to remove the SIM cards from their devices if they needed to call the 112 national emergency services line.
The minister for human rights, Jiří Dientsbier, says hysteria surrounding asylum seekers in the Czech Republic is completely exaggerated and not based on any rational risks. Speaking in an interview in daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Wednesday, Mr. Dientsbier said the country was capable of handling the thousands of refugees it will be required to accept in the coming years. He also said it was necessary to tackle the danger of extremists and populist politicians capitalising on tensions in society over the issue of asylum seekers to score cheap points.
Mortgage rate rises slightly after 18 months of decline
The average mortgage rate in the Czech Republic rose slightly in July, ending an 18-month period of decline. The average rate last month was 2.08 percent, up from a record low of 2.05 percent in June, according to an index run by financial consultants Fincentrum since 2003. The lowest rates in over a decade have increased interest in property acquisition in recent months and June saw the highest number of mortgage contracts ever signed in one month.
A policeman found guilty of attacking a motorist has been allowed to walk free from a district court in Prague, Czech Television reported. The court said it had not punished the officer as it was sufficient that the matter had come to trial. The state attorney appealed against Tuesday’s ruling and called for a suspended sentence and service ban for the policeman. The case relates to an incident in which security cameras recorded the officer kicking and punching a motorcyclist without a license who fled after two policemen attempted to inspect his bike.