News Communist Party calls for faster separation of churches from the State
The Communist Party is calling for a faster separation of churches from the State, the ctk news agency reports. The party is unhappy with the scope of the church restitution, which it considers excessive, and says this could be one way of easing the burden on public finances. The restitution law envisages a gradual reduction of state support for churches leading up to a complete separation in 17 years’ time, when churches should become fully financially independent.
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The Czech national hockey team faces Team Canada at the Ice Hockey World Championships on Monday. Canada, one of the favourites in the tournament, has been on a roll in the championships so far, clinching two wins in two match-ups. On Sunday, the team crushed Germany 10:0. The Czechs lost their first match against Sweden in a penalty shootout and rebounded 4:2 against Latvia. Ondřej Pavelec, who plays for the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL, is expected to start in net. This year’s Worlds are taking place in Prague and Ostrava.
Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek said Monday that the Czech Republic should push for its next new nuclear reactor to be constructed at the Dukovany site so that it could start to replace the four units that will be gradually phased out there from 2035 onwards. He pointed out that the local region around Třebíč was actively campaigning in favour of new nuclear capacity, which was not the case with the Temelín area. He said that if a specially formed ČEZ daughter company was created to push ahead with construction, then a foreign shareholder, probably the nuclear technology provider, could take a shareholding of up to 49 percent. Mládek said he did not think Russian companies should be excluded from a new Czech nuclear construction tender, but he said he doubted their chances to win it.
A new poll conducted by Ipsos suggests that a majority of Czechs are
fearful of Russia. According to the survey, 68 percent are uneasy about
alleged activities on Czech soil by Russia’s secret service while 61
percent expressed fear of a possible attack by Russia against the Baltic
states – allies within NATO. Sixty-three percent do not support President
Miloš Zeman’s stance towards Russia.
The Ipsos poll also found that 62 percent of respondents felt more should be done to strengthen ties within NATO with 57 percent saying the organization was the best defence. Pollsters also asked Czechs how the EU and NATO should help Ukraine: more than half respondents said through military training and continuing economic sanctions.
An annual report released by the Czech Jewish community suggests that anti-Semitism in the Czech Republic grew last year, registering a rise in reported cases compared to 2013. While physical anti-Semitic attacks remain uncommon in the Czech Republic and anti-Semitic sentiments are not mainstream within the majority population, there were cases of vandalism, verbal attacks and email threats, the Czech News Agency reports. The community registered five cases of vandalism, mostly of Jewish cemeteries, two higher than the previous year. It also registered 29 cases of harassment and nine threats, compared to six and three, respectively, in 2013.
Police are reported to have detained nine refugees from Somalia travelling with fake Italian passports. A police spokeswoman said the group consisting of three women and six men was travelling on a bus bound for Italy. Police are ascertaining their identity and whether they have already filed for asylum in another country of the Schengen border-free zone.
Czech President Miloš Zeman on Monday appointed Josef Bečvář as Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces. The ceremony took place at Prague’s Vítkov Hill. Mr Bečvář succeeds General Petr Pavel who stepped down and will head the oldest permanent body in NATO, the Military Committee. Until now he served as General Pavel’s deputy. Mr Bečvář, who is 56 years old, previously worked as head of the Czech military police and military attaché in France. He said his main goal as army chief was to complete planned changes within the army.
The Czech Foreign Ministry on Sunday reiterated that no Czechs were injured in the devastating earthquake in Nepaland said the vast majority of them had now returned home on commercial flights. A group of seven Czechs who were stranded in the mountains following the quake were airlifted from the Lho region by a Nepalese army helicopter on Saturday. Meanwhile a Czech trauma team has started providing first aid in the town of Melamchi where they are attending to the injured from several mountain villages which were cut off after the quake.
Runners from Kenya and Ethiopia traditionally dominated the 2015 Volkswagen Marathon in Prague on Sunday. First through the finishing line was Kenyan runner Felix Kandie with a personal record of 2:08:32. The fastest woman in the race was Ethiopian runner Yebrgual Melese with a time of 2:23:49. The first Czech to cross the finishing line was Vít Pavlišta with a personal record of 2:17:51. The race track is over 42 km long and winds through the city center. The winner in both the male and female category gets 15,000 euros.
More than half of Czechs think that Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, who owns the Agrofert business empire, has a conflict of interests. According to the results of a survey conducted by TNS Aisa for Czech Television 52 percent of respondents said there is a definite conflict of interests, while 39 percent of respondents came to the opposite conclusion. It also emerged that 26 percent of those who said Mr. Babiš had a conflict of interests voted for his party in the general elections.
Freedom Celebrations continued in the west Bohemia city of Plzeň on Sunday. Thousands of people turned up to greet the Convoy of Liberty, made up of historical military vehicles carrying around twenty US and Belgian war veterans who helped liberate Plzeň 70 years ago. Although the group of veterans, who are now over 90, have a packed agenda throughout the celebrations, manz of them made the trip through the city center standing in their jeeps saluting and waving as the enthusiastic crowd cheered and threw lilac at the vehicles as people did 70 years ago. Live street bands helped create a festive atmosphere reminiscent of the liberation and there was a fly-over of Gripen fighter jets to mark the occasion.