Prague Dog Eat Blog

The ODS Congress

Dec 30, 15:27 (Filed under: News )

The most powerful political party on current Czech political scene has just held a major congress, one that should set its direction for years to come. It brought several very significant events.

First, the founder, the brain, and the soul of the Party, President Klaus, cut his ties with his creation. The relationship between the party, lead by Mirek Topolánek, and the Prague Castle, was increasingly problematic. Klaus never liked the PM, he saw him as far too pro- European and not committed enough to the mission of the free trade. Since all indicators have been showing that Topolánek will keep the seat, the President decided he’s had enough.

Pavel Bém, the very controversial Prague mayor and Klaus’s protégé, challenged the Prime Minister. Although he is popular and had a substantial section of the Party on his side, Bém lost. There are many reasons why, but the primary may be that he didn’t really manage to offer a conception, he failed to say what exactly was he going to do. Would he keep the coalition government? Would he go for a minority government? Who would he like to work with? What would he do with the economic reforms? We don’t know, all we know is that he would like the Party to its more right- wing roots and that he’s against the Lisbon Treaty. Being radically right- wing may not be the wisest thing to do, with prizes rising and the financial crisis storming around the globe and even the ODS voters show to be very pro- European. So who was he planning to amaze with this strategy? I don’t know, all I can say is that I expected more foresight and smarter tactics from the experienced “bureaucrat”.

Now Topolánek may go on with the coalition and with the centre-right agenda. The party remains divided, part of it is clearly loyal to Klaus and decidedly anti- EU (no, not just “euro-sceptic”) and against any features of welfare state. This is a section which may damage the party and the government, since, apart from being too aggressive and ideological, these thoughts will hardly be popular.

The first man in the party, just below the chairman is now David Vodrážka, a newcomer to the top level politics. His election was quite a surprise. Recently he attracted some attention in relation to the sad case of Kaplický´s National Library. Mr. Vodrážka called the building- to- be a green spit and later offered a building site in Stodůlky. That is not a good sign. Someone, who suggests a public library should be placed on the edge of the city, far from the center, accessible only by underground, and on quite a mediocre spot, may not have a very cordial relation to public institutions. It is not only arrogant, it corresponds with the view that libraries, theatres, etc. need not reach out to the public. Everything works- or should work- according to the rules of the market. So if you want a library, take an hour journey.
But one should not forget that every politician, especially at the beginning of his/her career, tries to attract attention. Mr Vodrážka may turn out well, while Mr. Bém we know well enough. So, for the centrists and the right- wing moderates, the convention was a success.

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First Michelin Star in the Czech Republic

Aug 21, 15:27 (Filed under: News )

For few months already has the first restaurant in the whole Eastern Europe (if you still consider the Czech Republic to be part of the Eastern block) been rewarded by the Michelin Star. It is a historic moment for all gourmands of the world. Why?

Michelin has been evaluating restaurants for quite a time. The criteria are various, but the most important thing is the taste of the food that is being served there. People who are responsible for the ratings visit restaurants several times. And always anonymously.

For a restaurant, being given a Michelin Star is like to get an Oscar for an actor/actress. It means that the restaurant is serving food of outstanding quality. You can be sure that in any restaurant which was awarded a Michelin Star, whatever you get will be delicious and unforgettable.

The Top Michelin-rated restaurants receive from one to three stars. One star is for a very good restaurant in its category. Three stars mean, of course, the best of the best.

The first Michelin Star in the Czech Republic was given to the Allegro Restaurant in Prague, which is an Italian style restaurant. This restaurant is situated in Four Season Hotel, located at Veleslavinova Street. It is near Rudolfinum Gallery and metro station Staromestska (green line A). Lunch costs from 1 000 CZK up, but I guess it is worth it.

Moreover, three restaurants were also awarded by Michelin with “Bib Gourmand”, meaning restaurants offering good food at moderate prices. Who wouldn’t like to eat delicious meals for a good price? However, the word moderate can be a bit tricky. The prices of the food served in those restaurants are still a bit higher that average prices in “normal” restaurants.

So what are the three awarded restaurants? One is called Aromi, and is located at Manesova Street, near subway station Jiriho z Podebrad (green line A). The second is called Brasserie M. This is a French style restaurant and can be found in Vladislavova Street. It is best reached by trams 3, 5, 9, 14 or 24 (station Lazarska). The nearest subway station is Narodni trida. The last but not least, is the restaurant Le Terroir at Vejvodova Street not far from subway station Mustek. Bon apetit!

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The Kristallnacht Demonstration

Nov 22, 09:48 (Filed under: News )

Last Saturday a neo-nazi row was supposed to take place in the area of Prague Jewish town. A distasteful idea that is, taking account of the history of the area also known as the Jewish Ghetto (historical) or Josefov. The 1941- 1945 years were the period of the harshest violence against the Prague Jews in its history. However brutal the previous pogroms were these were less common than in the case of middle age Germany, Spain or Russia. The massive deportation of Prague Jews meant death for thousands. The walls of the Pinkas synagogue carry the names of 77 297 victims.

Kristallnacht, the large pogrom in the Nazi Germany, marked the start of the systematic mass murder of European Jews. The Nazi skinheads from Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany announced an assembly at the day of its anniversary, pretending it’s a mere coincidence.
Fortunately, the anti-Nazi turnout easily overshadowed the organizers and the march itself was prohibited in the end.

Most of the demonstrations were peaceful. The Jewish organizations and various groups sent a clear message to the majority: ignorance may be bliss, but it’s often suicidal. The neo-nazi illustration photo anarchists, holding a demo on their own, sent a clearer message, one of aggression. Frankly I have a problem judging them for breaking the rules. Their approach could be understood when seen in contrast to the sadism of the neo-nazis, who are used to brutally attacking just about anybody and sometimes even killing people, and in contrast to the usually lax approach of the Czech police. The problems arise when the Nazis turn out to be weaker than thought and when the Czech police turns out no to be lax.

This time the police stopped the skinheads and the radical anarchists looked somewhat betrayed. They came to have a fight and now it’s over. It seems crazy to me. All those who take part on a demo to block the neo-nazis from marching through the places that witnessed their idol’s heinous crimes should celebrate if the march was off in the end. The confrontation itself is not the point.

I have to add one more note: the Czech media tend to oversimplify just about everything and there’s no exception in this case. Having witnessed quite a part of the demo I can say that the group describes as “anarchists” consisted of many different groups of people, many of them students and people with no thirst for blood. The hardest core consisted of several dozens. The majority were those who just wanted to express their disgust over the existence of tendencies such as celebrating the Holocaust by people living in this society.

I personally hope that the neo-Nazis will not be allowed to demonstrate in the capital any more. And if they will, I hope the opposite side will be sensible. Excesses from the “anarchists” side marginalize the distinction between them and the Nazi skinheads in the eyes of uninformed public.

One thing the previous Saturday did prove: anti-Semitism is very marginal a sentiment in the Czech Republic. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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