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01-06-2014 16:57 | Ian Willoughby

Czech president invites newly elected president of Ukraine to Prague

President Miloš Zeman has invited the newly elected president of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko to Prague. In an interview on a Czech TV politics show on Sunday, Mr. Zeman said he would welcome it if Mr. Poroshenko were to hold talks with oligarch Rinat Akhmetov from the Donetsk region in a bid to forestall future conflict and prevent an open civil war. Mr. Akhmetov recently split from pro-Russian separatists who threatened to nationalise his assets. The Czech president said that instead of the repression of the civilian population currently occurring in Ukraine the two men needed to make efforts to find a reasonable solution. He said the further escalation of violence in Ukraine would offer Russia a pretext to intervene militarily.

Zeman praises cabinet for plans to index link pensions and boost tax breaks for parents of more than one child

President Miloš Zeman has praised the government for its plans to index link pensions and increase monthly tax breaks for parents who have more than one child. Speaking on a Czech TV politics show on Sunday, the head of state also said he was glad that preparations for a civil service law were making progress. Mr. Zeman said he could only find fault with the Social Democratic Party-headed coalition for stalling on the introduction of a social housing bill. The president said he planned to attend a meeting of the government on June 16.

Delegates from around world attend midwives congress in Prague

Around 3,500 delegates from around the world are taking part in an International Congress of Midwives which began on Sunday and runs until Thursday. Czech participants are demanding changes to the law in connection with a large increase in the number of women wishing to give birth at home since the fall of communism; such births are permitted but not covered by health insurance. The first International Congress of Midwives was held in Prague in 1925, when the delegates were welcomed by President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk.

Mild winter brings savings of up to 15 percent for Czech households

The average Czech household spent 13 to 15 percent less on heating costs due to the relatively mild winter, a spokesperson for the country’s association of heat suppliers told the news website Lidovky.cz. The winter was one of the warmest in the last 80 years, leading to household savings of an average of CZK 1,300. Saturday saw the formal end of the “heating season”.

International Children’s Day celebrated in Czech Republic

International Children’s Day is being marked at many places in the Czech Republic. In Prague around 30 events are taking place, including at the Senate, where special tours are being provided by guides in period costumes, and Žluté lázně, where as part of a “comics day” children have the chance to play in costumes of international and Czech comic book characters. Other Children’s Day events are planned for after Sunday, including at the traditional venue of the city’s Letná Plain.

Remains of fallen soldiers moved ahead of Olšany crypt renovation

The remains of thousands of soldiers are being moved from the cemetery in Prague to a former munitions store near Říčany. The first of around 3,000 coffins of soldiers killed in action after 1930 were transferred on Saturday due to the planned renovation of a crypt at the Olšany cemetery that has fallen into serious disrepair. The renovation will take about two years and will be carried out within the framework of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Czechoslovak Legions during WWI.

Berdych reaches quarter-finals at French Open

The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has reached the quarter-finals at the French Open in Paris. Berdych, who is seeded sixth in the Grand Slam tournament, overcame John Isner of the United States 6-4 6-4 on Sunday afternoon. The Czech’s opponent in the last 16 tie will be either Switerzland’s Roger Federer or Ernest Gulbis of Latvia, who knocked Radek Štěpánek out in the third round.

Znojmo and Sigma Olomouc relegated from Czech soccer’s top flight

Znojmo and Sigma Olomouc were relegated from the Czech first division on a dramatic last day of the soccer season on Saturday. Znojmo went back down after only a year in the top flight after a 2:0 defeat to Dukla Prague left them bottom. Olomouc were relegated for the first time since 1984 after a 1:1 draw with Liberec. Bohemians 1905 managed to avoid the drop after a 1:1 draw with Plzeň and other results meant Slavia Prague stayed in the first division despite losing 2:0 to Baník Ostrava.

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