News Czech Republic may miss out on CZK 10 billion in EU research funding, says minister

06-05-2014 13:55 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic may fail to draw on up CZK 10 billion of European Union funding available for research and development projects, the minister of education, Marcel Chládek, said on Tuesday. Mr. Chládek said he hoped to cut that figure by around CZK 4 billion. Previous estimates had suggested that around CZK 7.5 billion of potential EU funding for that area would not be accessed. A programme for research and development administered by the Ministry of Education is building six major scientific centres around the country. However, legislation on public tenders was complicating the use of EU money for those projects, Mr. Chládek said.

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Zeman testifies in court case involving ex-lawyer for Social Democrats

24-05-2016 12:57 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has appeared as a witness in a Prague court over a dispute involving the headquarters of the Social Democrats. Former notary Václav Halbich is demanding CZK 17 million from the president’s former party for legal services in their successful bid to get their HQ back in the 1990s. However, Mr. Zeman testified on Tuesday that the Social Democrats’ only partner in the matter was lawyer Zdeněk Altner. The president, who is known for his witticisms, said he had been familiar with their contract with Mr. Altner as he was not yet “suffering from dementia” at that time. 

Prague Writers’ Festival to welcome Coetzee and Palahniuk

24-05-2016 11:32 | Ian Willoughby

The 26th Prague Writers’ Festival will welcome the South African writer J.M. Coetzee and US novelist Chuck Palahniuk, organisers announced on Tuesday. The theme of this year’s festival, which takes place in October, is crime and punishment. Other scheduled guests include Egyptian poet Mohamed El-Baaly and Yan Lianke, a Chinese writer and recipient of the 2014 Franz Kafka Prize. 

Czech Republic to continue helping defend Baltics airspace, Sobotka tells Butkevicius

24-05-2016 11:25 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic will continue to play an active role in the defence of the airspace of the Baltic states, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday after a meeting in Prague with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Butkevicius. The two leaders discussed security in the Baltics in connection with a forthcoming NATO summit in Warsaw. They told reporters that the alliance should show unity and solidarity and beef up its presence in Eastern Europe. The defence ministers of the Visegrad Four are also due to discuss security in the Baltic states on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Jágr not to come out of international retirement for World Cup

24-05-2016 10:50 | Ian Willoughby

Ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr will not join the Czech squad for the sport’s World Cup in September. The Florida forward, who is 44, informed the Czech Republic’s general manager Martin Ručinský of his decision at the weekend, the newspaper Sport reported on Tuesday. Though Jágr officially retired from international hockey last year Ručinský and new trainer Josef Jandač hoped to persuade him to take part in the tournament in Toronto. 

Nymburk lift 13th successive Czech basketball league title

24-05-2016 10:50 | Ian Willoughby

Nymburk have won their 13th Czech basketball league title in a row. The Central Bohemian club beat Děčín 102:53 in Monday evening’s third final to make it 3:0 on games, repeating the result from last year. Nymburk again dominated the NBL this season, losing only one match. The club’s Vojtěch Hruban was named most valuable player in the final. 

Rail services to Dresden disrupted by landslide

24-05-2016 08:12 | Chris Johnstone

Trains between Prague and Dresden, Germany, have been disrupted by a landslide just across the joint border in Germany. A goods which collided with the debris was partially derailed on Monday night. Nobody was injured. The landslide is believed to have been caused by heavy rain. Train services could be resumed on Tuesday. In the meantime, an emergency bus service will be in place. 

Joint police, army patrols to end although terror alert remains unchanged

24-05-2016 08:11 | Chris Johnstone

Joint patrols of soldiers and police will end, the government decided on Monday. The joint patrols were introduced in the immediate aftermath of the Brussels terrorist attacks on March 22. Stepped up police surveillance will continue with the security alert remaining at the post-Brussels level of one, defense minister Martin Stropnický said. The joint patrols have come under fire from the centre-right opposition party, the Civic Democrats, as excessive. A video of how police and soldiers used excessive force on a Prague citizen who refused to hand over identity documents also stirred criticism of the patrols. 

Czech government is one of creditors of OKD mining company

23-05-2016 18:27 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech government is one of the creditors of struggling hard coal mining company OKD. Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek said that employer’s social insurance payments to the tune of around 79 million crowns are owing. If the sum remains unpaid then the state could join a creditors’ committee and influence the restructuring of the company. OKD filed for insolvency at the start of May with overall debts estimated at 17 billion crowns. At a meeting between government representatives, the unions, and the Moravia-Silesia hejtman on Monday, the head of the Confederation of Czech Trades Union, Josef Středula, warned that it was not clear if OKD’s around 10,000-strong workforce would be paid for May. Protests would result if that was the case, he warned. 

Lukáš Rosol creates first round scare for French Open champion

23-05-2016 18:27 | Chris Johnstone

Czech tennis player Lukáš Rosol created a scare for reigning French Open singles champion Stan Wawrinka. Rosol took a two sets to one lead in the first round match on Monday before the Swiss player won the final two sets and the match in just over three hours. The final score was 4:6, 6:1, 3:6, 6:3, 5:4. Wawrinka is seeded three for this year’s French Open. Wawrinka and Rosol clashed four days ago in the semi-finals of the Geneva competition with the Swiss winning in three sets. 

Charges pressed against art activists who hoisted underpants above Prague castle

23-05-2016 13:57 | Chris Johnstone

Charges have been filed against three members of an artistic group who last year hoisted a giant pair of red underpants over Prague Castle, the official seat of President Miloš Zeman. The charges laid against the members of the Ztohoven group cover disorderly conduct, theft, and damage. The art activists hoisted the underpants over the castle in protest at the president’s policies on September 19 last year. A court initially refused to pursue the case for lack of evidence. Police have since returned with a new dossier of evidence. 

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