Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka made his first trip as premier to Poland on Wednesday. Discussions with Polish counterpart Donald Tusk focused on the situation in Ukraine and improved road and gas connections between the Czech Republic and Poland. Prime ministers agreed that infringements on the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine were unacceptable. Environment, industry and trade, and transport ministers from the neighbouring countries will also hold parallel talks. Poland has been one of the most active EU countries in the current Ukrainian crisis. One of Sobotka’s first visits in Warsaw was to the memorial of Ryszard Siewiec, the Pole who set fire to himself to protest the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia. A Polish government delegation has been invited to the Czech Republic in the autumn.
Czech president Miloš Zeman has suggested that a strong mission of Czech observers be dispatched to check on the Ukraine presidential elections scheduled to take place on May 25. Speaking on a visit to Olomouc, the Czech head of state said that there was a risk that attempts might be made to falsify the elections and that supervision of the vote by the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe could prevent that. The Czech head of state added that the new government in Kiev following the overthrow of president Viktor Janukovych lacked the full legitimacy of an administration formed following elections.
Police have said that criminal proceedings will be dropped over the massive gas explosion that ripped through a central Prague street in April last year. The explosion injured around 40 people, two seriously, and damaged nearby buildings and cars with the repair bill coming in at around 275 million crowns. An investigation found that faulty parts and work on the gas pipe caused the explosion. The head of the works unit at the gas company responsible had already died, police said.
Some 32 percent of Czech women since the age of 15 have experienced some form of domestic violence, suugests a Europe-wide survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. That is slightly lower than the EU average of 33 percent, according to the report. The highest number of victims, 52 percent, was registered in Denmark, the lowest, 19 percent, in Poland. The report is based on interviews with 42,000 women across the EU; in the Czech Republic, researchers talked to 1,620 respondents.
A court in Brno on Wednesday convicted a 31-year-old woman of murdering three newborn babies, and sentenced her to 22 years in prison. The court said that the woman killed her newborn twins in 2012 and hid their bodies in the basement of her family’s house in Vlasatice, south Moravia. A year later, she murdered another newborn girl. The police discovered the bodies last summer, acting on a tip from the woman’s gynaecologist. The woman said quoted difficult financial situation as her motive.
The number of counterfeit Czech bank notes and coins seized last year dropped dramatically by just over 1500 to total just over 2000, the Czech National Bank announced on Wednesday. Their value of around 1.8 billion crowns was around half that of the haul in 2012. But the number of forged foreign bank notes and coins increased slightly to just over 1,000 with their value almost doubling from 2012 to 4.3 billion crowns, the bank said.
The man believed to be behind one of the communist era secret police’s most infamous actions, Evžen Abrahamovič, has died at the age of 92, Czech public television announced. Abrahamovič is believed to have masterminded the creation of false frontier posts to trick those escaping into US occupied Germany after 1948 into thinking they had already reached safety. He was charged by police last year. The frontier posts set up near the real border were staffed with StB officers who pretended to be from the US army and encouraged those fleeing communist Czechoslovakia to confess who helped them and their network of contacts. The so-called operation kamen (stone) was wound up from 1951 when frontier security was reinforced and escape became almost impossible.
The Czech Ministry of Industry of Trade has said it will not support any proposed changes in the country’s energy law submitted by lawmakers in the lower house of parliament. Fourteen proposals have been made, including a controversial proposal from the head of the energy sub-committee, Social Democrat Milan Urban, which would dramatically change the functioning of the independent energy regulator. The head of the regulatory office, Alena Vitásková, held a press conference Tuesday saying the proposal was motivated by Urban’s links to energy interests and was aimed at removing her from office. The ministry said that it wants to make its own far reaching changes at a later date.
In football, Czech club Slavia Prague has appointed a 47-year-old Dutchman, Alex Pastoor as manager of the senior squad. Pastoor ended his football career in 2001 and is best known for taking small Dutch team SBV Excelsior into the top Dutch league. Slavia’s recently appointed footballing advisor, former Russian football star Igor Korneev, was instrumental in bringing Pastoor to Prague. The new manger will face his first test in charge against Teplice on Monday. Slavia are currently languishing in 10th place in the 16 club league but have one of the worst attacking and defensive records.
Czech football manager Pavel Vrba faces his first match in charge of the national team in a friendly against Norway on Wednesday night. According to pre-match reports, Vrba has chosen to play West Bromich Albion striker Matěj Vydra up front and FC Nuremberg’s Adam Hloušek in midfield. Hloušek has not played for the national team for three years. Vrba is expected to adopt the same formation he successfully used at manager of Viktoria Plzeň.
Prague transit stops start of massive project for US student
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President Zeman’s Chinese advisor arrested
Jan Masaryk’s mysterious death – a “last nail” in the coffin of democracy in 1948