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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Ustí nad Labem widens war on wild pigs

27-08-2015 18:49 | Chris Johnstone

The city of Ustí nad Labem has put a 300 crown price tag on the heads of wild pigs which are increasingly invading the streets in search of easily available food. The city has also widened the areas where the pigs can be shot to include areas which were hitherto not included in the shooting zones. Wild pigs have increasingly invaded the outskirts of the city from the surrounding countryside in recent years. But they are now becoming a problem in the city centre centre. In April this year, of example, one group of pigs made its way into a polyclinic in the city centre. 

Mariánské Lázně former deputy mayor given two year sentence

27-08-2015 16:36 | Chris Johnstone

The former deputy mayor of the west Bohemia spa town of Mariánské Lázně was handed down a two year prison sentence on Thursday for tunneling a company. Former Social Democrat deputy mayor Petr Horký was sentenced at the Karlovy Vary regional court. He had pleaded not guilty. The charges are connected with Horký’s appointment as a liquidator for a company which owned a portfolio of flats and other property. Horký, who said he was not an expert in such affairs, then paid out more than 1.34 million crowns to a consultancy company to help him in the task. In a separate case, he faces charges that he helped pay bribes to local media. Horký can still appeal the latest court verdict. 

Agrofert company says immigrant death truck was not one of theirs

27-08-2015 15:37 updated | Chris Johnstone

An abandoned truck in which Austrian police believe up to 50 immigrants might have suffocated to death bore the name of a Slovak company which belongs to Agrofert, the Czech flagship company of ANO leader and minister of finance Andrej Babiš. But Agrofert bosses in the Czech Republic have said that the Hyza chicken lorry was not theirs but was sold in 2013 or 2014. All their six lorries were accounted for and they do not deliver in Austria, they said. The lorry was found on a layby not far from the Slovak and Hungarian borders after being spotted by the Austrian highway authorities. Police originally said on Thursday that between 20 and 50 immigrants could have died. The Hyza company dropped an ill timed advertising spot bear a stop migrants image from its web page Thursday. The migrants in this case apparently referring to cut price chicken imports. 

Prague’s IKEM undertakes unique liver operation

27-08-2015 14:39 updated | Chris Johnstone

Doctors from the Prague Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) say they have performed a unique liver transplant operation to save the life of a man who overdosed on paracetomol after suffering from a fever. The say a combination of complex operations in a short space of time managed to save the life of the 34-year-old man who faced almost certain death from the overdose. Such a complex transplant had never been attempted before in the world and although the costs were around twice those of a normal liver operation, they have now proved that it can be done. 

Local financial offices saved in government compromise

27-08-2015 14:19 | Chris Johnstone

The Ministry of Finance has been forced to retreat on a proposal to scrap around 25 of its around 200 local offices around the country in a bid to save money. The proposal was opposed by local mayors and also finally by prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Mayors protested that local people would face long journeys to seek advice or fill in declarations at other offices. But the finance offices that have been saved will open for only two days a week in the future. The compromise to keep the local offices open was reached by coalition party leaders. 

Eight Czechs detained in international cocaine swoop

27-08-2015 14:17 | Chris Johnstone

At least eight Czechs have been arrested in different parts of Europe during an international swoop on a cocaine smuggling ring. Three of those arrested in the Czech Republic included one boss responsible for hiring drug couriers for operations across the globe. Two Czechs were detained at Frankfurt airport with cocaine hidden in their boots and baggage. Another Czech was stopped in Spain as he flew in from Brazil. A further Czech was stopped in Vienna. The international police operational covered seven countries and involved the European police organization Europol. 

Koh-i-noor to end production in China

27-08-2015 12:12 | Chris Johnstone

Iconic Czech company Koh-i-noor says that after 11 years it is going to end some of its production in China and bring it back to the Czech Republic. Production in China is not as cheap as it once was and the company wants to safeguard its production at home. The decision has partly been prompted by the dramatic drop in sales to Russia, which is now struggling with its own economic problems and falling currency. Average wages in China have almost doubled in the last five years. 

Industry ministry says new talks probably needed over Paskov mine

27-08-2015 12:11 | Chris Johnstone

Falling world prices for hard coal have again put the future of the Paskov mine in danger and negotiation over state help are likely to be needed again, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has warned. The mine in the far east of the country is one of the last deep coal mines in the country. The government agreed last year on a package of steps that would temporarily save the around 1,800 jobs at the mine and the thousands of others depending on it. Mine owner OKD was, however, given the option of restarting the closure process before the end of 2017 if coke price continued below a certain level. 

Government approves foreign visits to China and Iran

27-08-2015 09:25 | Ruth Fraňková

The government has approved Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek’s visit to Iran and President Miloš Zeman’s trip to China, which are set to take place at the start of September. The information was announced on the website of the Office of the Government on Wednesday. Some ministers, such as Culture Minister Daniel Herman, voted against the visits, arguing that human rights are violated both in Iran and China. The Czech President stirred controversy when he announced that he would attend a military parade in Beijing marking the end of WWII in Asia. Mr Zeman is the only West European leader to travel to China and it will be his second visit to the country in less than a year. 

Poll suggests Social Democrats have caught up with ANO party

27-08-2015 09:24 | Ruth Fraňková

The Social Democrats are closing the gap on the ANO party led by businessman Andrej Babiš, according to a poll conducted by the ppm factum agency. According to the survey, the two parties would tie first place in general elections with equal support of 21.6 percent of the vote. The Communist Party would come third with 14.3 percent, followed by TOP 09 with 10.5 percent. The Civic and the Christian Democrats would also pass the five-percent threshold to enter the lower house, unlike the Greens, the Pirates and the Dawn Party. The Social Democrats had long been trailing the high riding ANO party. 

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