News ANO comes first among Czech parties vying for seats in European Parliament
The ANO movement, headed by businessman turned politician Andrej Babiš, came first among Czech parties running in the European Parliamentary elections. ANO gained 16.12 percent of the vote, which translates into four mandates followed by the opposition right-wing TOP 09 which won 15.95 percent, likewise gaining four mandates and the Social Democrats of the ruling coalition came third with 14.17 percent, for which they will also get four seats. Another four parties passed the five percent threshold needed to win seats in the European Parliament: the Communists (10.98%), the Christian Democrats (9.95%), the Civic Democrats (7.67%) and the Free Citizens’ Party (5.24%).
In the Czech Republic, a record 38 parties and movements fielded 849 candidates for 21 seats in the 751-strong assembly. However there was a record low voter turnout - 18.2 percent of Czech voters cast their ballot in the European elections.
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Czech opposition senators have called on Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s government to take a resolute stance against the hate speech and intolerance displayed at a Prague protest against Islam and immigrants held on July 1. An open letter to the government, signed by 12 senators, says it is absolutely unacceptable to openly threaten to kill those who do not oppose Islam or agree with the idea of taking in refugees. Some participants in the protest carried symbolic makeshift gallows for those who are ready to accept immigrants, calling them traitors. The senators say it is alarming that the police officers present did not take action against what is clearly a violation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has already slammed the police for its inaction demanding an explanation from his subordinates.
Meteorologists have been issuing health warnings with respect to the tropical heatwave that is expected to hit the Czech Republic over the weekend. Temperatures on Sunday and Monday should hit 37 degrees Celsius with the worst conditions expected in the big cities. People have been advised to stay out of the sun and limit physically straining activities as much as possible. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Sunday is a public holiday dedicated to the missionaries Cyril and Methodius who brought Christianity to the Czech lands and hundreds of believers are expected to undertake the annual pilgrimage to Velehrad.
Tests have ruled out the potentially fatal MERS virus in a Czech man hospitalized in Prague, the country’s chief hygiene officer Vladimir Valenta reported on Friday. The patient, a man from Ostrava who had recently travelled to South Korea, remains at Prague’s Na Bulovce hospital for further tests and treatment. The 49 people who were placed in quarantine in connection with the case will be released immediately. It was the country’s second MERS scare and Mr. Valenta said that the measures undertaken showed that the authorities were well prepared to deal with a potential crisis.
A Czech contingent of around 50 troops has returned from Mongolia where it took part in Khaan Quest an annual multinational exercise co-sponsored by the U.S. military, designed to promote regional peace and security in Northeast Asia. The Czech troops provided survival instruction courses to a Mongolian contingent ahead of its scheduled UN mission to Southern Sudan. According to the Czech ambassador to Mongolia Ivana Grollova the unit received high praise for and has been asked to run similar training courses next year.
Prague City Transport has announced that a stretch of Prague metro’s C line will be out of operation for a fortnight due to track maintenance. Trains will not be running between Kačerov and Háje stations from Saturday July 4th until July 16th. Passengers have been asked to use replacement buses instead.
Prague’s Strahov tunnel, which links the Prague 5 and 6 districts, is due to close to traffic at 8 am on Saturday for a ten day period. During that time road workers will link the tunnel to the newly built Blanka tunnel complex which is due to open to traffic in mid-September. Drivers have been warned to expect heavier traffic and complications with detours during the closure. The tunnel is due to reopen on July 14th at 5 am.
German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and his Czech counterpart Lubomír Zaorálek on Friday signed a declaration on Czech-German strategic dialogue in Berlin. The agreement entails broadening cooperation in nine spheres, among them foreign policy, research, education, energy, culture and the fight against drug abuse. In the area of foreign policy the Czech Republic said it wanted to acquire know-how from Germany on how to combine economic diplomacy and defence of human rights.
The 50th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicks off on Friday night in the west Bohemian spa town. The festival which is screening over 220 movies, will open with the 2014 American drama Time out of Mind, starring Richard Gere who will present the film alongside director Oren Moverman and co-star Jena Malone. Richard Gere is to receive the highest honour of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. Among this year’s other VIP guests are the American actor Harvey Keitel and Irish actor Jamie Dornan. The festival will end on July 11th with a gala award ceremony.
Three Czech tennis players advanced to the third round at Wimbledon on Thursday. Defending champion Petra Kvitová eased past Japan’s Kurumi Nara with a straight-sets win of 6:2, 6:0. In the men’s singles, Tomáš Berdych overwhelmed French Nicolas Mahut 6:1, 6:4, 6:4 in just over an hour and a half. The third Czech who made it through to the third round was Kristýna Plíšková, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 3:6, 6:3, 6:4. Three other Czechs, Lukáš Rosol, Jiří Veselý a Denisa Allertová, failed to get past the second round at Wimbledon.
Czech businessman A court in London has ruled in favour of extraditing the runaway Czech businessman František Savov, who has sought refuge in the British capital. Savov, who has been sought since March in connection with suspected tax evasion totalling billions of crowns, is the owner of a series of the Mladá Fronta publishing house and a series of publications including the business paper E15 and magazine Euro. Savov has denied the accusations and said he would appeal against the court’s decision. He said he didn’t want to return to the Czech Republic because he wouldn’t receive a fair trial.