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11-03-2014 18:49 | Chris Johnstone

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President Miloš Zeman cool on revival of missile defence plans

Czech president Miloš Zeman has dismissed any resurrection of US plans to construct an anti-missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland by saying it would be ineffective. Zeman’s spokesman said that the head of state was standing by his long held views on Czech participation in a US anti-missile defence system. Republican Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain suggested the US revive its plans for a radar station in the Czech Republic and anti-missile base in Poland as reaction to Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine crisis. The plans developed under former president George W Bush were quickly dropped by successor Barack Obama soon after he became president. Moscow frequently protested the proposed siting of the missile defence system in Central Europe saying that it was aimed at undermining its defences and not a move to counter so-called ‘rogue states’.

Statistics Office: Czech average wage decreases by almost 500 crowns

The Czech average wage decreased by 484 crowns (or 1.8 percent) in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 26,637 crowns the Czech Statistics Office revealed Tuesday; adjusted for inflation, real wages fell by 2.9 percent. Inflation reached 1.1 percent over the same period. The full-year average wage was 25,128 crowns per month. According to the bureau, the income of two-thirds of Czech employees earn lower than the average wage: 80 percent of employees earn between around 10,500 crowns to some 43,000 crowns per month.

Eva Samková badly injured after fall in training

Czech Winter Olympics snowboardcross gold medallist Eva Samková has been seriously injured during training for a world cup event in Switzerland. Samková badly damaged her ankle, one arm, and was severely concussed after falling badly at the end of a jump. She was taken to hospital by helicopter. Samková was training in her first event since the Sochi games. Her coach said that organizers had been warned about the danger of the jump where Samková and other competitors were injured.

Czech Republic signs tax information exchange deal with Bahamas

The Czech Republic has signed a tax exchange agreement with the Bahamas, the Ministry of Finance announced on Tuesday. The agreement had already been hammered out by the start of 2012 but has waited until now to be signed. The information exchange with the Caribbean tax haven will take effect when it is ratified by parliament and signed by the Czech head of state. Prague has already sealed 13 such tax exchange agreements with other states. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš described such agreements as an effective tool for uncovering tax evasion by Czechs. One of Bahamas most notorious Czech residents is the so-called pirate of Prague, Viktor Kožený.

New monument will commemorate Czechoslovak airmen who served in the RAF

The British Embassy and Prague City Hall are discussing possible sites for a new monument commemorating Czechoslovak pilots who served in Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II, the British Ambassador to Prague Jan Thompson has said. The statue, a winged lion to be cast in bronze, was funded by the British community and will be unveiled in a special ceremony on June 17. Eighty-eight Czechoslovak airmen fought in the Battle of Britain; over the course of the war, a total of 2,500 Czechoslovaks served in the RAF.

NGO unveils Putin as Hitler

Members of the Czech NGO Dekomunizace have raised a giant banner at City Hall in Liberec, north of Prague, casting Russian leader Vladimir Putin as Adolf Hitler - complete with the Nazi dictator’s moustache and medals on his overcoat featuring the swastika and the red star. The banner was hung close to a memorial remembering nine in Liberec who were killed during the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Dekomunizace, dedicated to casting light on crimes committed by the former regime, made clear it was protesting Russia’s recent invasion of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine’s domestic politics. The banner was raised with permission by City Hall; the police, however, began to investigate after charges were filed.

Police investigate case of apparent vandalism in which works by contemporary artists were damaged

Police are investigating damage to paintings stored at the castle in Valtice near Břeclav, the site of symposia since the mid-1990s until 2005. Some 50 works by contemporary Czech artists were apparently vandalised, either slashed or knocked out of their frames. The crime was only just discovered. Police also believe that some original works may also be missing. Works stored at the castle included a painting by tattooed composer and former presidential candidate Vladimír Franz.

Ahold shops for Spar’s Czech outlets

Dutch retail chain Ahold is seeking to leapfrog its rivals with the purchase of Spar’s Czech outlets. Ahold has agreed to pay over 5 billion crowns for the 36 Czech hypermarkets and 14 supermarkets operated by the Austrian firm. The extra annual sales of around 15 billion crowns would catapult Ahold from third to first place as the Czech Republic’s biggest retailer. Ahold currently trails Kaufland and Tesco. The deal has still to be approved by the Czech competition office.

Brno Christian Democrats want stricter conditions for pre-school enrolment

Brno Christian Democrats say they will push for an amendment requiring parents to register their pre-schoolers at nursery schools in the same district as their home address. Local district mayor Klára Liptáková pointed out that a loophole in legislation currently allowed parents to register their children at schools in neighbouring districts or further, afield, taking up spots which would otherwise go to local children. Generally, placement in nursery schools can be limited; the aim, officials said, was to ensure a better balance so that some facilities were not overburdened while others had trouble filling classrooms. The mayor and other Brno Christian Democrats plan to address their party MPs.

Czech coach Miloš Řiha sacked by Avangard Omsk

In ice hockey, Czech coach Miloš Řiha has unexpectedly been sacked from his job as trainer of the Continental League team Avangard Omsk. The Russian team said that Řiha did not turn up to lead the team’s training session on Monday. Řiha said that he was ill. The Czech trainer moved to Omsk after leading HC Pardubice in the 2012-2013 season. He previously trained Petrograd and Spartak Moscow during an eight year stint in the Russian league and was named the best trainer in that league in 2011.

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