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Events of the past week – 7 – 14 May

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>>> “Topolánek is certainly not sitting next to Tlustý. Request a new seating plan,” head of ODS deputies’ club Petr Tluchoř told Lidové noviny before Tuesday’s lower house session. Orginally, ODS leader and former PM Topolánek was indeed to sit next to Tlustý, a former ODS deputy responsible to a large extent for the collapse of Topolánek’s cabinet, since his last name starts also with a “T”. Later the seating plan was changed and Topolánek’s partner and ODS deputy Lucie Talmanová took his place. Tlustý was sent to sit among unaffiliated deputies. “Fight, Mirek!”, “We want you in the government” read slogans on signs carried by ODS supporters who attended a Tuesday concert organised at Prague’s Wenceslas Square as part of ODS election campaign. For the Eurovision song contest, songwriter Radoslav Banga dressed up as “a Romani superman”, but his Romani band representing ČR did not make it into the contest’s finals on Tuesday evening in Moscow.

>>> Female offenders are treated more leniently by Czech courts, according to a study by the Institute of Criminology and Social Prevention of women imprisoned for the first time. “I had no other option than to get used to it,” replied the newly-appointed Prime Minister Jan Fischer in answer to Právo’s question how he liked it in his office so far. One of the two Slovaks in the cabinet appointed by president on Friday, Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka, is planning to apply for Czech citizenship.

>>> New motorways in the Czech Republic will be steeper and more meandering, as the state will have to be saving on building bridges due to a lack of financing, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. Prague taxi drivers are cheating less, inspections by the Prague City Hall revealed. Wearing a backpack on your back on public transport in Olomouc can be fined by up to CZK 700, Pražský deník reported on Wednesday. As of Monday, traffic in the Prague city centre has been collapsing due to the closure of Štefánikova street. Prague metro celebrated 35 years of its existence on Saturday.

>>> “I don’t originate from a monkey,” said the Deputy Head of the Office of the President Petr Hájek at a conference at the end of April, publicly denying evolution and outraging scientists by saying Darwinism was an outdated “fallacy” related to Marxism, reported on Monday. “He doesn’t understand anything at all,” said leading Czech evolutionary biologist Jan Zrzavý, calling Hájek a “religious fanatic” who was “completely off base”.

>>> Czech pirates stole software worth CZK 3.3 billion last year. More than a half a year after the left wing of the Industrial Palace in Prague’s Holešovice burnt down, the police investigation has concluded the fire was caused from an electric heater, but have not found the culprit. Many Czech smokers are now smoking less expensive cigarettes due to the growing prices of tobacco products and there are more people who like to hand roll their cigarettes, Hospodářské noviny reported on Thursday. Czech university students’ worst addiction is alcohol. Students also tend to be addicted to the internet and computer games, according to a report released by the Centre of Addictology.

>>> Since last Thursday, the Czech Republic has the lowest interest rates in history. Despite the record high surplus of foreign trade in March, the recession will come to the Czech Republic, media reported on Saturday. The energy company ČEZ posted another record profit in the first quarter of the year. The antimonopoly office (ÚOHS) has levied a record fine of CZK 254 million against Czech Railways for abusing its dominant position on the freight market. The Czech state got rid of two giant arbitrations last week – with Japanese Nomura and Ostrava’s steelmaker ArcelorMittal.

>>> Škoda Auto launched serial production of the Yeti model. For the first time in 10 years, the Czech Republic produced some 23% fewer cars in the first quarter of the year than ever before, the Automotive Industry Association said. At the same time, export of new cars to Germany rose by 124% in March.

>>> The Czechs are out of the IIHF World Championship in the quarterfinals after losing against Sweden. The national football team has a new coach František Straka. Kenya’s Patrick Ivuti won the Prague International Marathon on Sunday in a new track record.

>>> Only two people have applied for subsidies for housing insulation from the government environment fund which has CZK 25 billion at its disposal. Originally, thousands of people have expressed interest. The healthcare facility Iscare in Prague is offering a free plastic surgery to nurses who commit to work for the company for three years, Pražský deník reported on Saturday.

>>> Monday was Entropa’s last day in Brussels. “Tlustý is disappointed. He expected resignation”, Právo wrote on Thursday, referring to former ODS deputy and number one on the election list, Vlastmil Tlustý, who wanted resignation of MEP and former TV Nova head Vladimír Železný. Železný remains number two on election list despite having received a two-year suspended sentence for evading taxes on imported art work. The head of Eurosceptic Libertas Declan Ganley praised President Václav Klaus at the Prague Castle on Thursday for not having signed the Lisbon Treaty yet. A group of ODS senators promised President Klaus that the Lisbon Treaty will be back at the Czech Constitutional Court within two months. To the relief of the majority of EU countries, it will not be the Eurosceptic Klaus, but recently appointed Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who will be chairing the June EU leader’s summit in Prague.

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