News Czech priest and academic Tomáš Halík receives Templeton religious award

13-03-2014 17:47 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Roman Catholic priest and professor Tomáš Halík has received the 2014 Templeton Prize, a UK-based award for “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities”. The organisers said Monsignor Halík, who is 65, had risked imprisonment for illegally advancing religious and cultural freedoms after the Soviet invasion of his country, and had since become a leading international advocate for dialogue among different faiths and non-believers. The Templeton Prize comes with a monetary award of about USD 1.8 million.

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Czech man 87, completes marathon

23-11-2014 13:06 | Jan Velinger

Eighty-seven-year-old Jiří Soukup took part in a marathon run in Srch on Saturday, becoming the oldest Czech man to complete such an event, ie. a 42.1 kilometre course. The race took the elderly competitor eight hours, twelve minutes and ten seconds. Organisers had allowed him to get a head start, at 7:15, whereas other runners started at 10 AM. His close friend cycled alongside the runner the length of the route. Soukup is not just a long-distance runner but also a winter swimmer. 

Ukrainian president confirms he will attend January ceremony commemorating liberation of Auschwitz

23-11-2014 12:14 | Jan Velinger

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will visit the Czech Republic at the end of January to take part in a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, Poland. The information was confirmed by Ukraine's foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin. Mr Poroshenko is the first head-of-state to confirm he will attend. Earlier this week, President Zeman invited representatives of the victorious powers in WWII but was cricitised by some for including Russian President Vladimir Putin. The heads of states of other countries including Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Israel, have also been invited, the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities has said. 

Elite units cooperate on car theft case

22-11-2014 16:23 | Jan Velinger

Elite police units from the regions of Karlovy Vary, Ústí, and Central Bohemia, as well as in neighboring Germany, succeeded after a several-month-long operation in uncovering a gang of car thieves who caused at least five million crowns in damages. Three men in their 40s have been arrested. Searches of the suspects' premises uncovered parts from at least 40 vehicles. 

Cooler temperatures expected only shortly before Christmas

22-11-2014 16:17 | Jan Velinger

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and a long-term forecast released on Saturday,temperatures in the run-up to this year's Christmas holidays are expected to be milder than usual. In December, daily temperatures should on average around six degrees Celsius in the days before the holidays, only dropping to zero around Christmas Eve. 

Police track down priceless 16th and 17th century statues

22-11-2014 16:08 | Jan Velinger

Czech police have revealed and returned to the original owners two priceless wooden statues dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The statues, of two saints, Jan Nepomuk and Vojtěch, were stolen around 20 years ago, from a church and a historic monuments depository. The discovery was made in April in neighboring Austria. 

Transport train cars derail near Ostrava

22-11-2014 15:47 | Jan Velinger

Two cars of a Polish transport trained derailed on track near Ostrava late Friday and were dragged 1.5 kilometres along the side of the route before the vehicle stopped, broken into three pieces. No one was hurt on the incident. Damage to the railways, including utility poles which were struck down, has been tabulated at 5.6 million crowns. Use of the route will be limited for the next few weeks as repairs are conducted. 

PM against 14 percent wage increase for politicians

22-11-2014 15:29 | Jan Velinger

The Social Democrat leadership has come out against a proposed monthly wage increase for members of the legislature and the executive branch proposed by the budget committee of the lower house. If passed, MPs would see their monthly salary jump by more than 8000 crowns to 64 thousand. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wants to meet with party MPs to discuss the matter. He is reportedly in favour of an increase of 3.5 percent, the same as for state employees. 

Washington Post slams President Zeman in editorial

22-11-2014 15:00 | Jan Velinger

The editorial board of the US daily the Washington Post published a scathing editorial on Friday slamming leaders in the former eastern bloc, specifically Czech President Miloš Zeman and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The daily, reflecting on notable pro-Russian statements in the face of EU sanctions and the crisis in Ukraine, described the Czech president as a "virtual mouthpiece for Russian President Vladimir Putin" and maintained as worrying that the current Czech government had distanced itself from a human rights agenda laid out in the 1990's by the former president Václav Havel. The late Mr Havel was honored in Washington this week with a ceremonial bust unveiling. But his legacy has been questioned by some Czech ministry officials as well as long criticised by former president and rival Václav Klaus and associates.

In its piece, the Washington Post noted as positive that the behavior of both Mr Orban and Mr Zeman had led to protests in their respective countries. On November 17th, the Czech head-of-state was jeered by students during a plaque unveiling and his security detail had to open umbrellas to prevent the president from being pelted with eggs. Mr Zeman told the people in the crowd he was unafraid of them as he was unafraid to protest 25 years ago. 

Median: two-thirds of Czechs say the president is dividing society

22-11-2014 14:31 | Jan Velinger

A new poll commissioned by Czech Radio, conducted by the Median agency, suggests that two-thirds of the population thinks the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has divided society and the same number is unsatisfied with how the head-of-state has represented the Czech Republic abroad. The survey comes on the heels of an earlier poll which found that public trust in Mr Zeman had dropped by a record number over the course of a single month. Public dissatisfaction with Mr Zeman's handling of the office has increased in relation to a marked pro-Russian stance and pro-Russian interpretation of events in Ukraine, the use of vulgar language in a recent traditional radio interview where he attacked the activist band Pussy Riot, and a questionable approach to China on a recent official visit. The president's office has maintained that foreign policy steps taken by Mr Zeman were in line with the government's foreign policy plans but critics have suggested otherwise. The prime minister is to discuss the matter with the president in mid-December. 

Opening of Prague’s Blanka tunnel complex postponed until spring

21-11-2014 16:43 | Jan Richter

The controversial Blanka tunnel complex in Prague will open in late March or early April, the Metrostav construction firm said on Friday. The tunnel, whose construction started in 2007, was originally to open in 2011 but has been hit by many delays, with the latest deadline set for December. The tunnel complex, which should channel through traffic from parts of Prague’s historic centre, has come under criticism for massive costs overruns which reached 37 billion crowns. 



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