News Czech tourists stranded in Greece after travel agency fails
Some 120 Czech tourists have been stranded in Greece after their tour operator HELLAS declared bankruptcy on Wednesday. Nine of their clients are set to return to the Czech Republic on Wednesday while the others are being contacted by an assistance service, according to the Generali insurance firm which provided insolvency insurance to the tour operator. HELLAS quoted issues with their Greek partners, the weak Czech crown and low package tours prices as the reason behind their collapse. It has become the third Czech tour operator to declare bankruptcy this season.
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Three times Olympics winner Martina Sábliková won her third consecutive 3,000 m race at the Speed Skating World Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan. She was timed at 4. 02,90 coming in ahead of Anna Jurakova from Russia (4.03,84), and Miho Takagi from Japan (4.05,68). Sáblíková also won the 3,000m title in Nagano Japan and Harbin in China. She is striving for her 11th World Cup victory.
The head of the Prague Castle guard, Petr Prskavec, has been dismissed, the president’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, announced on Friday. He did not specify the reasons for his dismissal. Prskavec spent less than a year in office, taking over from Radim Studený, who was sacked for failing to prevent the guerrilla artistic group, Ztohoven, from hoisting a giant pair of red boxer shorts over Prague Castle after removing the presidential standard. The Prague Castle guard had recently come under fire over increased security at Prague Castle which inconveniences visitors who have to queue up to pass through metal detectors, but an inside source claims this was not the reason for Prskavec’s dismissal.
A Norwegian court has refused to reopen the case of Czech mother Eva Michaláková who is fighting for her two sons, after being stripped of her parental rights following suspicions of abuse. Although charges were never pressed the boys have been placed in foster care and a judge barred Ms Michaláková from having any contact with her sons in June of this year on the grounds that she had medialized the case in her own interest. The appellate court ruled that the verdict of the regional court was fully justified and there were no grounds on which to review the case. The verdict is now legally binding. Michaláková’s battle for her sons, which has now dragged for five years, has received a great deal of publicity in the Czech Republic. Last year the Czech prime minister intervened on her behalf and he told journalists on Friday the Czech Republic would continue to support her should she choose to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Saturday should be clear to partly cloudy with snow in places and day temps between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius.
The lower house has approved fundamental changes to the law governing the country’s four national parks. The proposed changes include relaxing the ban on tourist access to the most sensitive and valuable areas of the parks and at the same time significantly increasing the number of non-intervention areas which are off limits to loggers, development and enterprise. The proposed law has caused heated controversy especially as regards the Šumava National Park where critics say it will severely restrict the development of villages inside the park. Environment Minister Richard Brabec has welcomed the bill’s approval. It will now go to the Senate for debate.
Strong winds have disrupted rail transport between the Czech Republic and Slovakia and caused damage to power lines in many parts of the Czech Republic. The worst damage is reported from northern Bohemia where emergency crews were out all night clearing roads, rail tracks and fixing damages power lines. Gale-force winds toppled a twenty metre tall Christmas tree on the main square of Česká Lípa, north of Prague. Fortunately no one was injured in the accident. Rail transport between the Czech Republic and Slovakia was disrupted after a train going from eastern Slovakia to Prague crashed into a fallen tree trunk. The accident caused delays and in some cases travellers were asked to use replacement busses.
Thursday’s fire at the Amazon distribution centre in Dobroviz near Prague caused damage to the tune of three million crowns, the ctk news agency reported. The cause of the fire is being investigated and the police have reportedly not ruled out arson. 2,800 people were evacuated and three people received medical attention after inhaling toxic fumes. Most of the distribution centre remains in operation. The fire is reported to have damaged goods to the tune of 100,000 crowns. Amazon opened the distribution centre in Dobroviz in 2013.
Czech and Slovak puppeteering have been added to the UNESCO world intangible cultural heritage list. The move was made at a UNESCO meeting currently taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Czech Republic was already represented on the list by the slovácký verbuňk dance, Hlinecko region masopust (carnival) processions and masks and the south Bohemian ride of the kings tradition.
Socialist leaders from around Europe are meeting in Prague on Friday. UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, PM Robert Fico of Slovakia’s Smer and German SDP vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel are among those due to speak at the Party of European Socialists gathering at the city’s Congress Centre. The three-day event has been organised by the Czech Social Democrats, whose leader PM Bohuslav Sobotka will also address the over 500 delegates.
A lawyer for two Czechs facing charges in Turkey of belonging to a terrorist organisation has petitioned for their release. The news was made public by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Thursday. The Czech Republic sees no reason for Markéta Všelichová or Miroslav Farkas to be either detained or put on trial, he said. The PM said the Czech embassy in Ankara was assisting the pair’s families. The two say they have been involved in Northern Syria with the Kurdish Peoples Protection Unit, which Turkey accuses of being a terrorist organisation.