News Czechs mark state holiday of Saints Cyril and Methodius

05-07-2014 12:49 | Chris Johnstone

Czechs have been marking the state holiday of St. Cyril and Methodius on Saturday. One of the main events was the culmination of the tradition pilgrimage festival at Velehrad in South Moravia at the site where the two saints helped establish Christianity more than 1150 years ago and translated the bible in Slavic languages. In a sermon Prague Cardinal Dominík Duka highlighted how Czechs still owe much to the legacy of the two brothers from Byzantium with the greatest heritage being spiritual not material.

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Police to probe handling of Saturday’s demonstrations in Prague

08-02-2016 15:04 | Jan Velinger

The police watchdog, the General Police Inspectorate, as well as the Czech police hierarchy said on Monday that they will investigate how a series of pro and anti-immigrant demonstrations in Prague were handled on Saturday. The pledges follow criticism that the police stood by on some occasions and might have provoked incidents on others. A statement by the police presidium said that no conclusions about failings or otherwise would be arrived at before a proper examination of the facts. Bosses at public broadcaster Czech Radio complained that police failed to intervene at one point on Saturday when a broadcast van came under attack by some demonstrators. Minister of Interior Milan Chovanec has called for a full report from the police within two weeks. 

Czech government firms up position on EU reform

08-02-2016 13:17 | Jan Velinger

The Czech government on Monday discussed the terms of a deal demanded by Britain on reform of the European Union. On the key issue of withholding some benefits to workers from other EU countries, the Czech government is arguing that such a move only be applied to newly arrived workers and not those already living in Britain. As part of a proposed deal unveiled last week by European Council president Donald Tusk, Britain would be allowed to limit work related benefits if the influx of workers put too much pressure on its system. Czech State Secretary for European Affairs Tomáš Prouza said Prague’s final position will be hammered out with its Visegrad regional partners ahead of a summit next week on the reforms. 

Investigators: massive avalanche which killed five Czech skiers broke away on its own

08-02-2016 12:56 | Jan Velinger

Austrian investigators say a massive avalanche which caught seventeen Czech skiers in the Austrian Alps on Saturday, killing five of them, was in all likelihood not anyone’s fault but broke away on its own. The skiers were in two groups when the avalanche hit. The Tirol police spokesman described the avalanche as several hundred metres wide; the tear point where the slab had broken away was reportedly a metre deep. The mountain service has warned that avalanche warnings are still in place in areas. 

Norwegian authorities return baby to biological parents

08-02-2016 12:16 | Jan Velinger

A Norwegian court has ordered the country’s child welfare services to return a nine-month-old baby to its Czech-Norwegian parents. The decision was confirmed by the spokesman for the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The baby, who is awaiting a kidney transplant, was taken from the parents a number of weeks ago on the grounds the parents had not sufficiently bonded with the infant. Czech lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf charged that detailed hospital records had played a key role in overturning the original decision (and what he described as “lies and manipulation” by the authorities). He added the family would release more information about the case in the coming days. The news of the baby’s return to its parents was welcomed by Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová. 

Football: Čech, Arsenal, down Bournemouth, move to third spot in Premier league standings

08-02-2016 11:04 | Jan Velinger

London football club Arsenal got back on winning form after four winless matches, taking all three points against Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday. The Gunners got goals from Özil and Oxlade-Chamberlain while goalkeeper Petr Čech made several key saves late in the match to retain the clean-sheet, his twelfth with Arsenal this season. The final score was 2:0. The result puts the Gunners within three points of league leaders Leicester. The two clubs face each other next weekend in a match which could go a long way in deciding who wins the title this year. 

Czech exports reached a record 3.9 trillion crowns in 2015, according to the country's statistics office

08-02-2016 10:44 | Jan Velinger

Czech exports reached a record 3.9 trillion crowns in 2015, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Monday; the figure represents a rise of 7.2 percent from the previous year. A little over 83 percent of domestic exports were destined for the European Union. Exports to neighbouring Germany alone increased by 8.7 percent to almost 1.3 trillion crowns; Germany is the Czech Republic’s main trading partner. Czech exports to Slovakia and Great Britain also saw a rise in 2015 but to Russia fell by almost 31 percent. 

Unemployment rate rises slightly to 6.4 percent in January

08-02-2016 09:18 | Chris Johnstone

The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic climbed in January to 6.4 percent from December’s 6.2 percent, the Labour Office announced on Monday. Just over 14,000 Czechs were added to the jobless total during the month giving a total of around 467,000 seeking work. The number of vacancies stands at around 108,000, the highest January total since 2008. 

Taxi drivers protest against unfair competition, permitted fares

08-02-2016 08:41 | Chris Johnstone

Around 200 taxi drivers protested on Prague’s main highway in the centre of the city early on Monday morning. Only one lane of the normally busy highway was left free for traffic. The protest was called by the Association of Taxi Concessionaries against what they describe as unfair completion from unlicensed taxi drivers using such services as Huber. They also want to highlight the stalled talks with Prague City Hall about higher permitted fares. Talks between licensed taxi drivers and town hall officials collapsed in November last year. 

Czech Republic beat Romania 3:2 in Fed Cup tie

07-02-2016 19:06 | Chris Johnstone

In tennis, the Czech Republic won a tight tie against Romania on Sunday 3:2 and are through to the semi-finals of the Fed Cup. Karolína Plíšková and Barbora Strýcová beat Andreea Mitu and Loana Olaru in the decisive doubles 6:2, 6:3. Earlier, Karolína Plíšková drew the tie level at 2:2 with a 6:4, 4:6, 6:3 win against Monica Niculescu. Petra Kvitová had earlier lost 4:6. 6:3, 3:6 against Romanian top player Simona Halep. 

Czech government paid 6 million US dollars for release of kidnapped women in Pakistan: report

07-02-2016 14:40 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Republic paid a ransom of around 6 million US dollars for the release of two Czech woman held in Pakistan, the weekly Respekt reports in its latest edition, details of which were released Sunday. The sum far exceeds the ransom sum previously suspected, of around 2 million US dollars, the weekly added. Antonie Chrástecká and Hana Humpálová were released in March last year after two years of captivity. At the time of the release, interior minister Milan Chovanec, denied that any negotiations were held or ransom paid to the kidnappers, believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda. The report comes amid the fallout from the release of five Czechs held in Lebanon in return for a Lebanese citizen held in the Czech Republic. 

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