News Foreign Ministry warns Czechs not to travel to eastern Ukraine and Crimea

02-03-2014 16:35 updated | Jan Velinger

The Czech Foreign Ministry has warned Czech citizens not to travel to eastern Ukraine and Crimea in light of growing tensions in the area; those already there have been advised to depart. The crisis in Ukraine escalated as unidentified Russian forces took full control of Crimea - where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based - ignoring Ukrainian sovereignty on the pretense they were there to protect Russian-speakers. In response, Ukraine called up its reserves and ordered full combat readiness for troops, raising the stakes in the growing stand-off.

World leaders, including US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, have condemned Russian intervention in Crimea as a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and a breach of international law. But Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has thus far ignored calls for troops to withdraw to the base in Sevastopol. In a phone call with the US president, he reportedly stressed that Russia would act not only in Crimea but in the east of Ukraine, if necessary, to protect its interests. Mr Obama had issued a warning in a press conference on Friday that there would be costs if Russia continued on its current course.

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Broadcasting watchdog slams Prima for claims that show was pulled for fears of regulator

27-10-2016 17:26 updated | Chris Johnstone

The Czech state appointed radio and tv watchdog, the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting, bluntly brushed off claims from commercial broadcaster Prima that it did not originally screen the episode of Jan Kraus’s talk show featuring George Brady and culture minister Daniel Herman because of fears how the council would react. Managers at the broadcaster already knew that the council had ruled that entertainment programmes featuring subjective views of guests did not keep to the highest standards of objectivity and balance that might be demanded elsewhere, the council said in a statement late Thursday. Prima was trying to shift blame for its decision and put it on the regulator if it tried to maintain that it was not aware of this, it added. The episode of the show reportedly contained many critical references to Czech head of state, president Miloš Zeman, and his staff. 

OKD mining unions threaten to take strike action

27-10-2016 15:15 | Chris Johnstone

Miners’ unions at the struggling hard coal mining company OKD have given notice of the possibility of strike action. The move is aimed at highlighting anger that management is allegedly undermining existing agreements and a social agreement, under which miners leaving work would be entitled to 12 months’ pay, for the Paskov mine. No date has been set for specific action. The Paskov mine is at high risk of closure under a reorganisation plan which management is set to finalize at the start of November. The company management has been reported to be seeking a further 600 million crowns in aid from the government to cover its social commitments to workers. Industry minister Jan Mládek said the mining company should come out officially if it needs new financing. 

TV talk show featuring George Brady pulled at last minute

27-10-2016 15:14 updated | Chris Johnstone

The scandal around the alleged withdrawal of a state honour to Holocaust survivor George Brady has taken a new turn with news that an episode of the popular talk show Jan Kraus on commercial broadcaster Prima failed to be screened. The episode, recorded on Tuesday, was supposed to go out on Wednesday night. Prima said that was not possible because the copy of the recording arrived late. An earlier episode was repeated instead. The station’s version was challenged by the show’s producer, who said it was delivered as usual and in time. Other guests on the show, such as musician Anna K, have complained of media censorship. Brady, the uncle of culture minister Daniel Herman, has been in the spotlight the last week in a scandal focused on whether the president’s office first offered him a state award and then warned it would be withdrawn if the minister met with Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Prima later said the episode would be screened on Thursday. Jan Kraus, known for his outspoken comments and stand against corruption, said that screening of an edited version of the show by Prima broke its contract with him. He said the orignal version would be put out on the web. Jan Kraus is known for his outspoken comments and stand against corruption. 

Claudio Magris to be awarded Franz Kafka prize

27-10-2016 14:59 updated | Chris Johnstone

Italian scholar, writer, and essayist Claudio Magris will be awarded this year’s Franz Kafka prize in Prague on Thursday. Born in Trieste in 1939, Magris is known for his focus on Central Europe and German. His most famous book, Danube, followed the course of the river through the region. Magris’ work first appeared in Czech in 1992. He will be the 16th winner of the Franz Kafka award, which seeks to give recognition to writers who have followed in the literary path of the celebrated Czech 20th century writer. 

PPP mooted for financing Czech high speed rail routes

27-10-2016 13:10 | Chris Johnstone

So-called Public Private Partnership Projects (PPP) could be used in the future to finance high speed rail connections in the Czech Republic, the director of the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure, Zbyněk Hořelica. He was speaking at a transport conference in Prague. The fund is current carrying out technical surveys on possible routes with planning permission for construction possible after 2030. The search for new sources of financing stems from the fact that most EU funding for transport initiatives will dry up after 2023. Priority routes for high speed routes are likely to be to Germany via Ústi nad Labem and Dresden, to Munich via Plzeň, and to Vienna and Bratislava from Brno. PPP projects, in which a private investor builds the infrastructure and then, often, charges for it, have often been mooted as a means for building transport infrastructure while deferring the up front costs. 

Czech made L-159 aircraft used in fighting on outskirts of Mosul

27-10-2016 12:20 | Chris Johnstone

Czech made L-159 sub-sonic aircraft have been used in Iraq for the first time against Islamic State, according to the Iraqi Army. The Czech government cleared the sale of 15 excess to requirement aircraft being held by the company Aero Vodochody. The Iraqi Army said the Czech aircraft are now being used on the outskirts of Mosul, which the army and Kurdish forces are currently attempting to win back from IS. Czech training and aircraft advisors have been in Iraq since June to help train Iraqi’s to use the planes. 


27-10-2016 11:33 | Chris Johnstone

The weather on Friday, a holiday in the Czech Republic to mark the anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, will be overcast with the chance of some sunny spells. Maximum daytime temperatures across the country will range from 10 to 14 degrees Celsius. 

PM presents George Brady with Karel Kramář medal

27-10-2016 11:06 | Chris Johnstone

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Thursday presented Holocaust survivor George Brady with the Karel Kramář medal. The prime minister said the award was recognition of Czech-born Brady’s lifetime work promoting freedom, democracy, and human rights. Referring to the recent scandal over whether presidential officials threatened to withdraw an earlier promised state award to Brady because his nephew, culture minister Daniel Herman met with the Dalai Lama, Sobotka said it was unfortunate and that figures such as Brady should be honoured. Brady survived the Czech collection camp at Terezín, where he was sent by the Nazis, and later the Auschwitz death camp. He later emigrated to Canada and devoted much of his life telling younger generations of his life story. 

Constitution Court likely to block move closing StB archives: daily

27-10-2016 10:46 | Chris Johnstone

Judges in a pending Constitutional Court judgement which threatens to effectively close the archives of the communist-era police, the StB, to researchers and historians are unlikely to take such a dramatic step, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reports on Thursday. The government, archivists, and the Czech authority for protecting personal data are against the step, it reports. A decision from the 15-member court is needed after questions were raised whether current access to the files infringes personal privacy. Historians warn that a system giving the greatest protection to personal details would mean most of the files being blacked out before being handed over to researchers. 

Škoda Auto boosts operating profit by almost a third in first nine months

27-10-2016 10:07 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto raised its operating profit in nine months of the year by 28.1 percent to 25.5 billion crowns (around 940 million euros) according to figures released by German parent company Volkswagen on Thursday. Škoda has been able to boost its sales and spread its costs over the period. To September, the carmaker has been able to produce 606,000 cars and is set for a record production figure for 2016. 



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