News Government fails to agree position on smoking ban

28-08-2014 08:08 | Ian Willoughby

The government has failed to reach a joint position on a ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants. Coalition party ANO is pushing for a blanket ban but after a debate on the matter on Wednesday the cabinet issued a statement saying that while there was general agreement on the idea it preferred a broader amendment that the minister of health, Svatopluk Němeček, is due to produce by the end of the year. Numerous attempts to introduce such a prohibition in the past have come to nothing. An estimated 30 percent of Czechs smoke cigarettes, with around 18,000 people dying as a result of smoking in this country annually.

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Civic Democrats to boycott Czech MPs' trip to Moscow

26-10-2014 09:12 | Jan Richter

The opposition Civic Democrats are the only party in the lower house of the Czech Parliament that will boycott a planned trip of Czech MPs to Moscow, the news website novinky.cz reported on Sunday. A five-member delegation of Czech deputies is set to visit the Russian Duma in early November, on the invitation of its deputy chair Sergei Zheleznyak. Most other parties in the Czech lower house said they would back the trip depending on its agenda. 

Report: Women make up 15 percent of Prague tram drivers

26-10-2014 09:02 | Jan Richter

Women make up around 15 percent of tram drivers in the Czech capital, according to a report by news website novinky.cz. In August, there were 198 women drivers, compared to 1146 men. There are only about 30 women bus drivers in Prague, or 1 percent of the total number, and no women metro drivers. There are also three women train drivers working for Czech Railways, the report said. 

President Zeman backs lifting of visas for Chinese citizens

26-10-2014 08:47 | Jan Richter

During his official visit to China, Czech President Miloš Zeman has backed the idea of lifting the visa requirement for Chinese citizens. Speaking at a Czech-Chinese business forum in Beijing, Mr Zeman said the Czech Republic would consider lifting visas for Chinese diplomats, and would propose the move be taken by the EU with the ultimate goal of lifting the visa requirement for all Chinese nationals. The Czech president also said the Bank of China, one of the biggest state-owned banks in the country, would open its branch in the Czech Republic next year. Mr Zeman is in China on a four-day official visit; he is scheduled to meet with the Chinese president and premier on Monday, the last day of his trip. 

D8 motorway tunnels closed over lighting issues

25-10-2014 18:34 | Jan Richter

Two tunnels on the north Bohemian D8 motorway between Prague and the German border have been closed over problems with their lighting systems, the Czech road directorate said. The Panenská and Libouchec tunnels near Ústí nad Labem were closed at 5:30 PM on Saturday, and traffic in both directions is being diverted to alternate routes. It’s not clear when the tunnels will reopen. 

ANO to head České Budějovice city hall

25-10-2014 16:36 | Jan Richter

The ANO party in the southern city of České Budějovice has struck a deal with TOP 09, the Christian Democrats and the local grouping Citizens for Budějovice to form a coalition at the city hall, the local ANO party leader, Jiří Svoboda said. ANO won the local elections there two weeks ago; the Social Democrats, who came in second, were excluded from the coalition over their exaggerated demands, according to Mr Svoboda. 

Report: more than half of Czech population affected by air pollution

25-10-2014 14:22 | Jan Richter

Despite an overall improvement in the quality of air in the Czech Republic, more than half of the country’s population is affected by air pollution, according to a report on air pollution in 2013 released by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. The report says that at least one emission limit is regularly exceed on 17.5 percent of the country’s territory, an area inhabited by over 54 percent of the population. The north-eastern Ostrava region is worst affected, followed by the urban agglomerations of Prague and Brno. 

PM Sobotka: Government’s stability allows it to undertake unpopular steps

25-10-2014 13:03 | Jan Richter

Nine months after its appointment, the Czech government is stable and can rely on sufficient support in Parliament, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement marking a year since a snap general election. The government’s stability allows it to undertake unpopular measures including labour market and education reforms, the prime minister said. The government has successfully launched a public administration reform but should improve tax collecting and curb crime, according to Mr Sobotka. 

Czech TV drama wins Prix Europa award

25-10-2014 12:43 | Jan Richter

The television film Osmy (Wisdom Teeth or Eights), produced by Czech Television, has won the Prix Europa 2014 award for best TV drama. The film, set in communist Czechoslovakia in 1980, follows the main character’s personal as well as political misfortunes. The jury said it was hilarious, and created black but warm-hearted absurd humour. The film is to premiere on Czech TV in December. 

Daylight saving time ends on Sunday morning

25-10-2014 11:58 | Jan Richter

Daylight saving time in the Czech Republic and other European countries ends at 3 AM on Sunday when clocks go back 60 minutes. The change will affect 13 night trains which will stop and wait for an hour at the stations to depart according to their regular schedules. Night public transport connections in Prague will not be affected by the change as they will complete their routes according to daylight saving time. 

Press: Slovak PM Fico among those set to receive Czech state decoration

25-10-2014 10:32 | Jan Richter

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is among those set to receive Czech state decoration on October 28, the country’s Independence Day, the daily Mladá fronta dnes reported. Mr Fico will be decorated for his contribution to friendship between the Czech and Slovak nations, the paper said, adding that Mr Zeman and Mr Fico are personal friends. The president’s office has not released the list of people set to receive the state honours on Tuesday but according to media reports, the president will among others decorate Sir Nicholas Winton who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Holocaust, and filmmaker Robert Sedláček who made a documentary about Mr Zeman before he became president. 

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