News Kiev gets offer to exchange hostage OSCE observers for Russian separatists
According to a report published by the Russian Interfax news agency the group of OSCE observers who are being detained by Russian separatists in the town of Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine, are unharmed and are being treated as “guests”. The town’s pro-Russian mayor Vjacheslav Ponomarjov confirmed on Monday that an offer had been made to exchange them for Russian separatists held in Kiev. According to the Czech ambassador to Kiev, the negotiations are complicated and the Ukrainian government has not yet responded to the offer. The Ukrainian Intelligence Service says it has evidence that the operation in which OSCE observers were taken hostage was masterminded by the Russian military intelligence. Among the captives are German, Czech, Polish and Danish nationals. A Swede who suffers from diabetes was released on Sunday.
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Biathlete Gabriela Koukalová came third in the women’s mass start event in Italy`s Anterselva on Saturday. Koukalová is now second in the overall rankings, 105 points behind Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, who finished in the second place. The race was won by Nadine Horchler of Germany.
Around two hundred people gathered on Prague`s Wenceslas Square on Sunday to attend the Love Trumps Hate rally, a sister event to the Women`s March in Washington. Dozens of demonstrations are being held across the US and the rest of the world, including Tokyo, Sydney and Paris, in support of women, minority groups and immigrants in the wake of Donald Trump's inauguration as 45th President of the United States. ”The rally affirms our commitment to protecting the rights, safety, and health of our children, families, and communities, including those individuals from politically and socially marginalized demographics,” the organizers of the Prague event said in a press release.
Czech tennis player Barbora Strýcová has advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open, after beating Caroline Garcia of France 6:2 and 7:5. Strýcová will next face the six-time Australian Open Champion and world number two Serena Williams, who beat her fellow American Nicole Gibbs 6:1, 6:3.
A smog alert alert remains in place in ten regions of the Czech Republic, where more than double the permissible limit for airborne dust particles have been recorded. People with chronic lung-related problems and heart condition as well as elderly people and children have been recommended to stay indoors and authorities have also appealed to drivers to curb their travels. Situation has worsened in Prague, Central Bohemia and Olomouc region, where the biggest polluters were asked to scale down production.
The head of the Confederation of Political Prisoners, Naděžda Kavalírová, has died at the age of 93. Mrs Kavalírová was actively involved in the resistance against the Communist regime. After the Communist takeover in 1948 she was expelled from the Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague because of her membership in the National Socialist Party. In 1956 she was convicted of treason, and espionage and spent three years in prison. Since 2003, Mrs. Kavlírová was the chairwoman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and between the years 2007 and 2013 she also headed the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.
MPS from the center-right Civic Democrat and TOP09 parties have filed a joint complaint with the Constitutional Court against an amendment to the air pollution law which enables local authorities to check what households are burning in their stoves. The law is to put off people burning waste, such as PET bottles, which significantly contributes to air pollution in many Czech towns and villages. While environment activists have welcomed the move, right-wing parties claim it violates individual freedom and is an invasion into people’s privacy. They particularly oppose the fact that the authorities can enter people’s homes without a legal warrant from a court.
The signatories of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto have asked the Czech government to speak out in support of human rights in China. The appeal was made in an open letter to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka shortly after he proclaimed that he and his government stood up for the values that Charter 77 defended. The road to democracy would have been much more difficult without the courageous stances, persistent effort as well as the suffering of Charter 77 signatories, Mr. Sobotka said on the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Charter 77 manifesto earlier this month. Over 160 of the original signatories have now asked the prime minister to follow up his words with actions, and come out in defence of human right in China.
The weekend should bring extremely cold weather with clear to partly cloudy skies and day temperatures at around – 6 degrees Celsius. Night time lows could drop to – 18 degrees in places.
A wax figurine of America’s 45th president, Donald Trump, has been unveiled at Prague’s Grévin Wax Museum. The figure is reported to be the third biggest on show –following that of the Golem and French actor Gerard Depardieu. It was made, with the help of a double, by sculptor Eric Saint Chaffray at Grévin’s Paris studios.
The US Ambassador to Prague, Mr. Andrew Schapiro, is leaving office on Friday. Ambassador Schapiro, who is not a career diplomat, was appointed to the post by the outgoing US president Barack Obama. He has served in the post since September 2014. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek recently said he feared that it might take some time to find a replacement. There has been speculation that the incoming US president Donald Trump’s Czech-born ex-wife Ivana has expressed an interest in the position.