Poll: Zeman narrowing gap with Fischer

According to a poll conducted by PPM Factum Research, Czech presidential hopeful Miloš Zeman is trailing Jan Fischer by only 1.4 percentage points. The agency announced today that the August figures are a jump from a poll conducted in July, which had Jan Fischer 4 percentage points ahead of Mr Zeman, a former prime minister. The third place, according to PPM, is currently held by the economist Jan Švejnar, who has not announced his candidacy yet. The current poll suggests that none of the candidates would get more than half of the votes in the first round of the direct presidential elections, which will take place for the first time this winter. As a result, top two candidates will go on to the second round. Jan Fischer, the former head of the Czech caretaker government in 2009, announced on his Facebook page on Monday that he has the 50,000 signatures necessary to enter the presidential race. Mr Zeman had done the same earlier.

Lower house committee to decide on future investigations into Rath

The Czech Parliament’s Mandate and Immunity Committee will deliberate another police request to give up former governor and Social Democratic MP David Rath for criminal investigation on Monday afternoon. The lower house committee had already approved criminal investigation into Mr Rath in the spring in relation to corruption charges over the reconstruction of the Buštěhrad chateau. This time, the police are seeking to investigate Mr Rath on three other charges relating to purchases of equipment for a Kolín hospital, a nursing home in Kladno and medical supplies for a hospital in Mladá Boleslav.

Education ministry under fire from the Supreme Audit Office

The Czech Supreme Audit Office discovered inconsistencies in the Education Ministry’s accounting for last year. An audit at the ministry found that expenses worth 117.2 million crowns were not properly accounted for. The Supreme Audit Office also says that there were significant problems with the ministry’s property management. The total cost of all the inconsistencies revealed by the audit was established to be over 29 billion crowns. The Education Ministry claims that it did not breech the law or budget restrictions, and that the problems were the result of only formal mistakes of its accounting department.

Deputy minister dies in boating accident

The first deputy to the environment minister, Jakub Kulíšek, died at the weekend at the age of just 31. The deputy minister was in charge of the economics and environmental policy at the ministry, a position he had held for less than a year. The spokesman for the ministry said his death was sports-related; news website iDnes cited sources as saying Mr Kulíšek drowned during a kayaking trip on the Austrian river Enns in Styria. The environment minister, Tomáš Chalupa, expressed sorrow over the tragedy, calling it "a huge loss".

Three cities will get new professional training centers in Hradec Kralové region

Hradec Kralové regional administration is planning to create free more centers for professional technical education that would be located at secondary schools in Nová Paka, Hradec Kralové and Trutnov. Last year, three such centers were opened around the region for engineering, automotive industry and transport, forestry and construction. The three new professional schools will cost the region around 70 million crowns, funds for which will come primarily from EU subsidies. The Hradec Kralové region has had problems filling spots in high schools and professional schools, with only half of the available 12 000 places having been taken in the 2010-11 school year.

Veteran and army general Sedláček dies at 94

Tomáš Sedláček, a Czechoslovak army general, World War II veteran and political prisoner under communism, passed away on Monday in Prague at the age of 94. A professional soldier before the war, Mr Sedláček escaped occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. He trained in the British armed forces during World War II and fought on both western and eastern fronts. Settling in Prague after the war, he was arrested in 1951 by the Communist Military Intelligence and received a life sentence for conspiracy. He was released under an amnesty in1960 and later rehabilitated.

Water and sewer accidents plague northern Prague

Two major sewer accidents on Sunday caused road closings and fears of water outages in northern and north western districts of Prague. Prague Water and Sewer Company is working on repairs on Evropská streets in Prague’s Dejvice district. A water pipeline burst resulting from top soil falling in in six places in a nearby field. Over 10 000 people may have to face disruption in water supply. Repairs on Evropská should be finished by midnight on Monday. Another sewer accident on Prosecká street in Prague-Libeň caused a crater, approximately five meters wide and three meters deep, to form in the middle of the road. Traffic on the road may be renewed within days, but full repairs may take up to three weeks.

Šumava national park receives a fine for environmental damage

The Czech Environmental Inspectorate issued a fine of 450 thousand crowns to the Šumava National Park in southern Bohemia on Monday. The national park administration is being held accountable for disturbing the nesting of the wood grouse, using biocides to exterminate bark beetles and creating clearings near a lake in the Klatovy region. The harmful actions were taken in the years 2010 and 2011, under the administration of former park directors František Krejčí and Jan Straáský. The National Park is planning to appeal the decision and fine.

Petr Sís receives prestigious children’s book award

Czech-American writer and illustrated Petr Sís was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen award on Saturday as an illustrator whose work has made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. The Hans Christian Andersen Award, given out by Swiss-based International Board on Books for Young People, is the highest international recognition for authors and illustrators of children's books. Mr Sís has joined the ranks of famous children’s books authors such as Astred Lindgren, Tove Jansson and three Czech illustrators who received the award in 1968, 1980 and 1992. The two of the books written and illustrated by Petr Sís that made him famous in the Czech Republic are The Three Golden Keys and The Wall, both were published in both English and Czech.

Bridge in Prague to get a graffiti facelift

The Nusle bridge in Prague will host the works of Czech and international street artists. The 485-meter long concrete communist-era giant will get a facelift during the month of September. Grafitti and street artists from the Czech Republic, Germany, the United States, France, the Netherlands, Spain, France and Poland will leave their mark on the eight pillars of the bridge and plan to create a unique gallery along its sides. The opening will most likely be on 3 October, but organizers of the project say it will depend on the weather and the speed with which the artists will be able to work.


Partly cloudy weather with possible rain showers early on Monday, and sunny skies in the afternoon. The highs will be 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.