News Czechs to assist Ukrainian police reform

23-06-2014 17:59 | Jan Richter

Czech experts are likely to join a planned EU mission to assist in reforming Ukraine’s police force, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Monday. The decision to form a joint mission to help Ukraine with implementing reforms in the areas of security, police and the rule of law was taken at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday. The mission is expected to start working in Kiev in the coming months, and should last two years. Mr Zaorálek said it was important the planned mission did not collide with other types of support provided to Ukraine by the EU, OECD, NATO and other organizations.

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Washington Post slams President Zeman in editorial

22-11-2014 15:00 | Jan Velinger

The editorial board of the US daily the Washington Post published a scathing editorial on Friday slamming leaders in the former eastern bloc, specifically Czech President Miloš Zeman and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The daily, reflecting on notable pro-Russian statements in the face of EU sanctions and the crisis in Ukraine, described the Czech president as a "virtual mouthpiece for Russian President Vladimir Putin" and maintained as worrying that the current Czech government had distanced itself from a human rights agenda laid out in the 1990's by the former president Václav Havel. The late Mr Havel was honored in Washington this week with a ceremonial bust unveiling. But his legacy been questioned by some Czech ministry officials as well as long criticised by former president and rival Václav Klaus and associates.

In its piece, the Washington Post noted as positive that the behavior of both Mr Orban and Mr Zeman had led to protests in their respective countries. On November 17th, the Czech head-of-state was jeered by students during a plaque unveiling and his security detail had to open umbrellas to prevent the president from being pelted with eggs. Mr Zeman told the people in the crowd he was unafraid of them as he was unafraid to protest 25 years ago. 

Median: two-thirds of Czechs say the president is dividing society

22-11-2014 14:31 | Jan Velinger

A new poll commissioned by Czech Radio, conducted by the Median agency, suggests that two-thirds of the population thinks the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has divided society and the same number is unsatisfied with how the head-of-state has represented the Czech Republic abroad. The survey comes on the heels of an earlier poll which found that public trust in Mr Zeman had dropped by a record number over the course of a single month. Public dissatisfaction with Mr Zeman's handling of the office has increased in relation to a marked pro-Russian stance and pro-Russian interpretation of events in Ukraine, the use of vulgar language in a recent traditional radio interview where he attacked the activist band Pussy Riot, and a questionable approach to China on a recent official visit. The president's office has maintained that foreign policy steps taken by Mr Zeman were in line with the government's foreign policy plans but critics have suggested otherwise. The prime minister is to discuss the matter with the president in mid-December. 

Opening of Prague’s Blanka tunnel complex postponed until spring

21-11-2014 16:43 | Jan Richter

The controversial Blanka tunnel complex in Prague will open in late March or early April, the Metrostav construction firm said on Friday. The tunnel, whose construction started in 2007, was originally to open in 2011 but has been hit by many delays, with the latest deadline set for December. The tunnel complex, which should channel through traffic from parts of Prague’s historic centre, has come under criticism for massive costs overruns which reached 37 billion crowns. 

Survey: Public trust in President Zeman falls sharply

21-11-2014 14:34 | Jan Richter

Public trust in President Miloš Zeman has fallen sharply, according to a survey by the CVVM agency released on Friday. Some 37 percent of people who took part in the poll said they trusted the president, down from 58 percent recorded last month, a record one-month decline. Trust in the president has been greatly affected by a series of controversial moves by Mr Zeman, including his visit to China, his comments on the crisis in Ukraine and on Russia’s role in the conflict, and an expletive-ridden radio interview, among others. 

Missing men’s remains found at ammo explosion site

21-11-2014 14:18 | Jan Richter

The remains of two men missing since last month’s explosion at an ammunition storage site in eastern Moravia have been found, the head of the police in Zlín, Jaromír Tkadleček, told a news conference on Friday. The men were employees of the firm that administered the storage facility destroyed by a massive explosion on October; the site was inaccessible for weeks due to continuing explosions of ammunition. The police boss also told reporters that the costs of clearing the area were likely to reach hundreds of millions of crowns. 

West provoked new cold war with Russia, ex-president Klaus tells Russian TV

21-11-2014 13:43 | Jan Richter

Former Czech president Václav Klaus told the Russian TV channel Dozhd that the crisis in Ukraine was a continuation of the Cold War that has been provoked by the West. In an interview for the independent TV station, Mr Klaus said the West had used Ukraine’s internal problems to start a new phase of the conflict, and that Russia’s response was a reaction to events in Ukraine, and not their original cause. The former Czech president also suggested that Ukraine was an artificial country that was likely to disintegrate. 

Speed-skater Sáblíková finished second at World Cup event in South Korea

21-11-2014 13:33 | Jan Richter

Czech speed-skating champion Martina Sáblíková finished second at a 5,000 metres World Cup event in the South Korean capital on Friday, five seconds behind winner Claudia Pechstein of Germany. The result is Sáblíková’s first defeat on the 5,000 metres track since November 2010. The Czech speed-skater, who leads the World Cup’s long-tracks ranking, said the race was difficult and that she had problems with the type of ice used in the event. She will next appear in the 1,500 metres and mass-start events in South Korea. 

Lítvínov man charged with vote-buying

21-11-2014 13:32 updated | Jan Richter

The police in the north Bohemian town of Litvínov have charged a 24-year-old man with interfering with the election process. The man allegedly offered money and free food and entertainment to dozens of people in the town in exchange for their voting for an unspecified political party during the local elections held last month. However, the town’s elected representation is unaffected by the case as the results of the vote have not been contested. The police are looking into another seven cases of alleged vote-buying in the Ústí nad Labem region. 

President’s views in line with government’s foreign policy, says Zeman’s spokesman

21-11-2014 12:55 updated | Daniela Lazarová

A spokesman for Czech President Miloš Zeman has rejected allegations that Mr Zeman’s views on foreign policy contradicted the official policies of the Czech government. The president’s views are pro-European, and all his activities are in line with the government’s foreign policy, the spokesman said in a reaction to remark by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who said that President Zeman should consult his foreign policy statements with the government before going public with them. President Zeman has come under fire at home and abroad for his controversial statements on the EU sanctions against Russia, the crisis in Ukraine, and the group Pussy Riot, among others. 

Man shoots himself dead with pen gun at police station

21-11-2014 12:45 | Jan Richter

A 57-year-old man shot himself dead with a pen gun at a police station in Úpice, in north Bohemia, on Thursday night, a police spokeswoman said. The man, who was detained during an attempted robbery, was inebriated at the time of the arrest. He asked to use the toilet at the police station where he shot himself in the chest with a concealed pen gun, instantly killing himself, the spokeswoman said. The case is being investigated by the Czech police’ internal affairs department. 

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