Freezing temperatures drove the homeless from the streets. People around the world prayed for the recovery of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who suffered a stroke. Monarchists marched through Prague with yellow flags and pictures of the emperor. The national debt rose to 700 billion crowns. “The clash at that time over where to go and how to get there was never between authentic reformers and those defending of the old order or communist structures, but changes in our system were obstructed above all by reform communists and dissidents such as Havel or Dienstbier,” President Vaclav Klaus proclaimed at a conference called “15 Years Since the Renewal of Capitalism in the Czech Lands,” which was organized in Prague by his organization, the Center for Economics and Politics.
The city of Příbor began preparations for the grandiose celebration of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the birth of its famous native, Sigmund Freud. Heavy snow crashed through the home of a solitary man in Horní Bludovice near Frýdek-Místek. Enthusiasts of hardening themselves against the cold bathed in the Elbe River. Děčín City Council put up for sale a sandstone statue of Marshall Pavel Rybalka, who liberated the town from the Nazis, which had already been desecrated twice by unknown vandals at its present location in the local cemetery. Renowned American animator Andy Schmidt from Pixar Studios came to Zlín for a one-day seminar for students of the film school there. Spain announced that it might open its labor market to Czechs this year. Inflation dropped below two percent. Prices dropped for the first time in seven years. Police in České Budějovice called on the state prosecutor to bring to trial three employees of the supermarket chain Julius Meinl, who ordered their subordinates to sell rotten meat. A rise in interest rates caused higher mortgages. Tests by the National Reference Center for Potable Water showed that a popular water filter sold by the Liberec company Aguel Bohemia for 30,000 crowns not only makes normal tap water “crystal clear,” as the advertising slogan claims, but on the contrary, it actually turns the harmless liquid into a potentially lethal beverage. The number of unemployed people surpassed the half-million mark again. Jan Bouchal (30), the leader of the civic initiative Auto*mat, which advocates reducing the number of cars and supports cycling, walking and public transport, died in a Prague hospital after being in a coma for a week following being hit and fatally injured by a reckless driver. Debate on the territorial plan – both versions of which include breaking the fifteen-year-old cola-mining limits and liquidating more villages for brown coal – began in Ústí nad Labem in the face of a public demonstration with protestors holding banners saying “Don’t take our homes” and “Coal isn’t everything.” “We hope the project will be as successful as our recent exposition for the fortieth anniversary of Večerníček,” said a spokesperson for Prague 5 City Hall, commenting on the upcoming Karel Gott and Václav Klaus exhibition in the Porthmeik Villa in Smíchov. A semi-truck carrying a ton of Semtex crashed near Svitavy without an explosion or injuries. Due to dissatisfaction with the implementation of Health Minister David Rath’s savings program, the Medical Chamber began preparing for a strike. Foresters bought up all the snowshoes in stock. With the help of a hired company, regional authorities in South Moravia conducted an undercover inspection of how regular people feel and what they experience when visiting local authorities. Two German 20-year-olds who kidnapped, raped, and tortured a prostitute during a visit to the Czech Republic last year were sentenced to life in prison by a court in Heilbron, Germany. The Czech currency hit an all-time high against the euro, when the exchange rate reached 28.80 crowns to 1 euro. ODS Deputy Vladimír Doležal, who was recently stripped of immunity by his colleagues in the lower chamber and is suspected by the police of corrupt activity, resigned from his seat. “I had certain reasons for that,” responded Prime Minister Jiří Paroubek when asked by the media why he asked the police for permanent bodyguards for his wife. Neo-Nazis from the National Party decided to support President Klaus and announced they would erect at Lety u Pisek a three-ton stone “memorial” with the caption “Here was a reception camp. It was not a concentration camp,” whereby they want to legitimize the president’s opinion that there wasn’t a holocaust in Lety during WWII, for the incarcerated Roma civilians, including women and children, were “only” waiting to be transported to Auschwitz and – as Klaus recently wrote in a newspaper column – “mostly only died from typhus.” Railway authorities had to disrupt service of the fast train Pendolino near Červenka and the passengers had to switch to an alternate connection. Tomáš Řepka transferred to Sparta from West Ham United.