American Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday spoke to the premiers of the Czech Republic and Hungary about developments in Ukraine, assuring them of the United States’ commitment to collective defense under NATO’s Article 5, which stipulates that an attack against one member of the alliance is an attack against all. The Czech News Agency reported that Mr Biden spoke for 45 minutes over the phone with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, discussing new sanctions against Russia for failing to withdraw troops on Ukraine’s border and for failing to de-escalate tension in the area as agreed in talks in Geneva. The two also discussed the situation of OSCE observers - including a Czech national - being held captive by pro-Russian separatists. The Czech Foreign and Defence Ministries are working with partners to try and secure the observers’ release. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999; Article 5 was first invoked in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
The Communist Party and the Social Democrats are among the few parties planning traditional May 1st celebrations to mark International Workers’ Day, ČTK reports. According to the news agency, the Communists will hold a public meeting at the Výstaviště fair grounds, where they have staged events over the last few years instead of Letná Park. The Social Democrats will lay a wreath marking the holiday on April 30 at Střelecký ostrov (island) - a site in Prague where the workers’ holiday was first marked in 1890. Most parties are using May 1st as an opportunity to highlight candidates and issues ahead of the elections to the European Parliament later in the month. May 1 will mark ten years since the Czech Republic joined the European Union.
Transport on a train route from Prague to Ostrava was stopped for roughly an hour on Sunday after a fast-speed Pendolino train struck and killed a 68-year-old pedestrian on the track. It is unclear whether the man was caught off guard or had used the train to commit suicide. The fatal accident took place near the Sruby stop in the Ústí nad Orlicí area. An investigation is being conducted, a police spokeswoman confirmed.
A mystery Czech who was rescued last December in Oslo suffering memory loss has returned home, according to the Norwegian media. The man, who has been going by the name of ‘John Smith’, allegedly returned to the Czech Republic to apply for new ID and travel documents. He said in the past that he had no intention of returning for good, fearing for his life after his alleged abduction and escape last year. In an interview for Norway’s NRK, he complained there was a campaign against him by some Czech media suggesting he had only faked his memory loss to avoid debts at home.
Forty-year-old op idol Robbie Williams performed for fans at a sold-out O2 Arena in Prague on Saturday, his first concert in Prague in 11 years. The show focussed not on Williams’ popular hits but on Swing, including covers of Sinatra and Duke Ellington classics and songs from his latest album Swing Both Ways. One pop hit, Angels, was included as an encore. The show was seen by 16,000 people.
The Czech U-18 national hockey team will - for the first time in its history - play for gold at the World Championships. The squad faces the United States on Sunday evening. The Czech team fought hard in Finland to reach the final, edging Russia as well as defending champions Canada, to advance. Canada faces Sweden in the bronze medal match.
A 4:1 win over Liberec has put domestic football league-leaders Sparta Prague in the driver’s seat, with the club needing only one win or two draws to secure this season’s league title. The club leads second-place Viktoria Plzeň by 10 points. The clubs coach, Vítezslav Lavička, was careful to keep emotions under wraps, telling news website iDnes the club “was close” but that nothing was definite yet.