Damages reported to insurance companies from recent storms have already reached nearly one billion crowns. Torrential rain, hail and local flooding over the recent weeks have done particular damage to roofs and vehicles and have also flooded houses. The insurance company Česká pojišťovna has registered 6000 claims worth 285 million crowns, while Kooperativa reported 4000 claims worth 190 million.
Over 1,000 houses of worship across the Czech Republic will open their doors to the public on Friday night for the annual Night of Open Churches. Visitors will be able to view church interiors that are normally not open to the public, and attend concerts, exhibitions and other programmes. This year, there will also be a spiritual tram riding through Prague, where people can debate with Archbishop Dominik Duka and other guests. Last year, nearly 1,500 churches took part in the Night of Open Churches and the event attracted over 500,000 visitors.
Two people have suffered injuries in a gas explosion that occurred in an apartment building in Biskupcova street in Prague’s district of Žižkov on Friday morning. The injured people were employees of a gas company who were maintaining gas pipes. One of them is in a serious condition with severe burns. Nine people had to be evacuated from the building after the explosion. The precise cause of the explosion is still being investigated.
The Czech Republic’s Fulbright Commission, which guarantees outstanding Czech students, scientists and lecturers scholarships to US universities and vice versa, marks 25 years of its existence. Over that period, the programme enabled 900 students and scientists from the Czech Republic to travel to the US and some 700 American scholarship recipients come to the Czech Republic. Up till now, the US government has donated some 20 million US dollars to subsidize the exchange programmes.
Czech president Miloš Zeman and his Macedonian counterpart Gjorgje Ivanov attended the Macedonian-Czech Business forum on Friday. The two heads of state agreed to intensify their countries’ mutual economic cooperation. Mr Zeman also said that Czech tourists should consider travelling to Macedonia instead of regions threatened by terrorism. The Czech president arrived in Macedonia on Thursday for a two-day official visit. Upon his arrival he received the country’s highest award for outstanding merits. He also visited the St. Naum Ohridski monastery complex before returning to the Czech Republic.
Exactly 70 years ago, the Czechoslovak government launched the expulsion of ethnic Germans (the so-called Sudeten Germans) to the Soviet zone, which would later become East Germany. The transfer of around three million Germans in retaliation for Nazi atrocities started immediately after the end of WWII, first with the so-called wild expulsions, which were uncontrolled and often violent. The organised transfer, initiated by president Edvard Beneš, proceeded according to the Potsdam Conference from January until October 1946, first to the American and then to the Soviet zone. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people were murdered during the expulsions or died from hunger and illness as a consequence.
This year’s Pavel Koutecký Award for Best Czech Documentary has gone to Kristýna Bartošová for her film The Dangerous World of Rajko Doleček, a portrait of a 90-year old dietitian and a former TV star, who used to promote healthy lifestyle, but who is also a convinced nationalist and a close friend of Ratko Mladič. The award giving ceremony took place at Prague’s Archa theatre on Thursday evening. Pavel Koutecký was a filmmaker who died in 2006 at the age of 50, halfway through filming Citizen Havel, a portrait of the late president that subsequently became a great success.
Workers at hard coal mining company OKD have been paid their May wages according to a spokesman for the company. Some workers might though only get the money in the following days, he added. The news will bring some relief to the around 10,000 workers employed in Moravia and Silesia. Unions had warned of unrest if wages were not paid. OKD, which is owned by New World Resources, is subject to insolvency proceedings with debts estimated at between 13 billion and 17 billion crowns. Government ministers this week clashed over the level of loans that might need to be advanced to OKD to keep operating.
ANO chief Andrej Babiš says a dispute surrounding planned changes in the police force is the most serious crisis the coalition government has faced to date. The head of the organised crime unit, Robert Šlachta, resigned on Friday in protest at plans to merge his squad with the force’s anti-corruption unit. ANO says the move is political and its minister of justice, Robert Pelikán, has threatened to quit over the matter. Coalition leaders the Social Democrats back the move and the party’s minister of the interior, Milan Chovance, says Mr. Šlachta’s resignation is political.
Distributors in the Czech Republic will no longer be able to trade in cigarettes that do not come in boxes with graphic health warnings from September 7. Public sales will be barred from December 7. The precise dates were released on Thursday by the Czech branch of the company Japan Tobacco International. President Miloš Zeman signed an amendment introducing graphic warnings at the end of last month. The new norm is in line with EU legislation.