News Czechs honour four soldiers killed in Afghanistan suicide attack
Sirens sounded and bells tolled across the Czech Republic at midday on Thursday in homage to the four Czech soldiers who were killed in a bomb attack near the Bagram airport in Afghanistan on Tuesday. A fifth Czech who was seriously injured has been operated on again in hospital and is said to be in a stable but serious condition. He will not be able to return home for at least 10 days.
The bodies of the four in coffins draped with the national flag were airlifted back to Prague’s Kbely military airport on Thursday afternoon. President Miloš Zeman, Defense Ministry officials and members of the soldiers’ special unit were present to pay their respects. Flags have been being flown at half mast and candles light. All four soldiers will be awarded medals for bravery in memoriam. President Zeman said the men’s actions in Afghanistan helped protect civilians from attack at home and that was the main significance of their sacrifice.
Parachutists from the brigade in Chrudim, eastern Bohemia, where three of the four dead soldiers were based will start a public collection. Money collected will be divided between the families of the bereaved.
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The Norwegian authorities have ruled that the six-year-old son of Czech woman Eva Michaláková can be adopted by his current foster parents, Czech Television reported on Tuesday. She has also been barred from having any contact with her second son, who is 10. Norwegian social services took the two children into care in 2011 over suspicions of sexual abuse and neglect. Ms. Michaláková is planning to appeal the decisions, though a previous petition to hear the case was rejected by the European Court of Human Rights. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, prime minister and president have in the past attempted to intercede on her behalf. The minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, has asked the Norwegian ambassador to Prague, Siri Ellen Sletner, for a meeting on Tuesday. He said he would present her with a diplomatic note over what he said was an egregious breach of a previous agreement.
Christian Democrat MEP Tomáš Zdechovský on Tuesday called on the government to expel Norway’s ambassador to the Czech Republic in response to a decision under which Eva Michaláková will no longer be able to see her children taken into care four years ago. Mr. Zdechovský said Norway had stolen the Czech mother’s children and that its approach was reminiscent of the Nazis. Responding to the MEP’s call, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, said expelling the Norwegian diplomat was not a bad idea. The head of state also backed Mrs. Michaláková’s planned appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
The Czech ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr says he is bringing back the mullet hairstyle that he was famous for in the 1990s. Jágr, who is 43, told a reporter from the Miami Herald that he was reviving the long-at-the-back style after lobbying from Florida Panthers teammate Roberto Luongo. He had tweeted prior to a pre-season training camp that he was going to make it his mission to get the Czech to go back to the look with which he is most closely associated. “Guys we did it!!!!!,” Luongo wrote on Monday.
The Czech Republic will send more than the 25 soldiers approved by the government on Monday to Hungary to help guard the country’s borders, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka says. He made the comment after a visit to the General Staff of the Czech Army on Tuesday. The concrete number to be sent in the second such deployment in December will be discussed at a meeting of Visegrad Four interior ministers later this week, Mr. Sobotka said. On Monday the Czech interior minister, Milan Chovanec, said that over 100 soldiers and police officers could be deployed to Hungary, which has this year seen an unprecedented number of illegal migrants.
A retrospective exhibition of work by the Czech designer and architect Bořek Šípek has got underway at the Art Salon gallery in Prague’s Dancing House. The show includes almost 200 items created by the artist over the last two decades, including a vase he designed for Václav Havel. Mr. Šípek worked closely with the late president in his time at Prague Castle and the exhibition’s opening coincided with what would have been his 79th birthday on Monday.
The minister of education, Kateřina Valachová, has defended the director of a Prague elementary school who slapped a pupil, iDnes.cz reported. The minister said she did not know all the details of the case but said that it raised issues of whether teachers received sufficient support in their psychologically demanding work. School head Miroslav Kovanda slapped a seventh grade pupil who made a cheeky remark at a Prague 8 elementary school in April. Speaking at a Teacher of the Year awards ceremony, Ms. Valachová said the principal regretted his action, which occurred in a heated situation that had escalated, and would not have reacted like that in normal circumstances.
Czech trades unionists have insisted that asylum seekers and foreigners with work permits be offered the same conditions as locals. The issue was discussed at Monday’s five hour long three-way meeting between the government, unions, and employers. Czech employers previously said around 5,000 jobs could easily be filled by immigrants. But some employers have talked about work for immigrants, with the implication that special conditions might be attached. Head of the Association of Industry and Transport, Jaroslav Hanák, said that the immigration issue was now likely to crop up regularly at tripartite meetings.
Czech police are to launch what they describe as one of their biggest clampdowns ever on under age drinking in bars and restaurants. Details of the clampdown to be launched Friday were outlined on Monday. Several thousand police will take part in the nationwide checks against a background of increasing alcohol consumption by under age Czechs. Surveys suggest that Czech teenagers are some of the biggest alcohol drinkers across Europe. Business found to be breaking the law by serving the under aged with alcohol can be fined 5,000 crowns on the spot with further penalties to follow.
The leader of the TOP 09 political party and former Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, has announced that he will not stand for re-election to the top party post at its upcoming party congress. His position as party chairman was due to be renewed in November. Schwarzenberg, cited health reasons as one reason for his refusal to stand again. He denied, however, that he was withdrawing from public life and said he would stand in elections to the lower house of parliament as one of the leaders for the centre-right party in Prague. The front runner to lead the party would appear to be deputy chairman and former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek.
Sales of new cars in the Czech Republic have soared by almost 21 percent in the first nine months of the year with the total reaching just over 171,000. The country’s biggest car maker, Škoda Auto, has seen its sales climb by 28 percent to just short of 55,000. It's slice of the Czech market has risen to 32 percent. Volkswagen is second in the local sales league followed by Hyundai. The latest figures were published Monday by the Car Importers’ Association.