News Monument to Czech airmen who fought with RAF unveiled in Prague

17-06-2014 18:22 | Ian Willoughby

A monument to Czech airmen who fought in Britain’s RAF in World War II has been unveiled at Klarov in Prague. The statue in the shape of a winged lion was donated by the city’s British community. It was unveiled on Tuesday afternoon by Nicholas Soames, the grandson of UK wartime leader Winston Churchill. However the monument has been criticised by local preservationists, who say the grassy area it stands on – which already hosts another statue – is inappropriate.

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Gap between amount Prague pays into and draws from EU highest ever last year

09-02-2016 14:13 | Ian Willoughby

Last year the Czech Republic drew nearly CZK 152 billion more from the European Union than it paid into the bloc, according to figure released by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday. It was the highest such gap since the country joined the EU in May 2004. The Czech Republic drew a total of CZK 157 billion from the union’s Structural and Cohesion Funds, as well as receiving CZK 31 billion under the Common Agricultural Policy. Since its accession the Czech Republic has contributed CZK 429 billion to the EU’s coffers and received CZK 990 billion. 

Prague tourist numbers grow almost 8 percent in 2015

09-02-2016 12:52 | Ian Willoughby

Prague saw a year-on-year increase in tourist numbers of 7.8 percent in 2015, according to data published on Tuesday by the Czech Statistics Office. Around 6.8 million visitors were registered in the Czech capital last year, with almost 5.7 million of them coming from abroad. Tourist overnight stays totalled 15.9 million in 2015, which also represented a 7.8 percent rise. 

Suspected high-level leaks over abductions to be investigated

09-02-2016 12:46 | Ian Willoughby

The National Security Authority will investigate the State Security Council over the possible leaking of information, the news website Echo24.cz reported. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka called for the investigation after details of the government’s actions with regard to Czechs held hostage in Lebanon and Pakistan were made public. The weekly Respekt reported that the state paid USD 6 million for the release of two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan, while details have also emerged with regard to the freeing of five Czechs abducted in Lebanon and the subsequent release of a Lebanese man in custody in Prague. The State Security council is composed of several ministers and other senior public officials. 

Ex-Brno police chief loses appeal against jail term

09-02-2016 11:55 | Ian Willoughby

Former Brno police chief Jaroslav Přikryl has failed in an appeal against an 18-month jail term for quashing the fines of acquaintances and misusing personal data in police files. Mr. Přikryl – once spoken about as a possible national police president – missed the date he was due to begin serving his sentence, claiming health problems. He was found guilty of quashing traffic fines handed out to 20 acquaintances. 

Security expert: Victim did not attempt to return to kidnappers in Pakistan

09-02-2016 11:46 | Ian Willoughby

Security expert Adam Dolník says it is untrue that one of two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan for over two years attempted to return to her abductors. Quoting the Czech security services, the weekly Respekt wrote on Monday that Hana Humpálová was stopped at the Turkish border while attempting to reach Pakistan in the autumn. Speaking to Lidovky.cz, Mr. Dolník also said that reporting how much the Czech state paid for the pair’s release would endanger others by raising the expectations of kidnappers. Respekt has defended its actions in reporting that the government handed over USD 6 million for the women’s release. 

Police reject minister’s criticism over failure to act against masked hooligans

09-02-2016 11:31 | Ian Willoughby

The police have rejected criticism from the justice minister for not taking action against masked men hurling missiles at left-wing activists in Prague on Saturday. Police president Tomáš Tuhý said on Tuesday that the force had acted professionally. Suspicions that individual officers acted inadequately are being investigated, he said. The minister of justice, Robert Pelikán, said commanding officers bore responsibility for failing to order action against individuals who were breaking the law by wearing masks and carrying weapons at a demonstration. The minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said he would proper investigation took time and rejected “show trials”. 

Hockey: Jágr plays 1600th NHL match

09-02-2016 09:04 | Jan Velinger

Czech legend Jaromír Jágr notched his 1,600th NHL career game on Monday, but his team, the Florida Panthers, lost 3:0 against the Detroit Red Wings. Czech goalie Petr Mrázek got the shutout while Jakub Kindl picked up an assist. 

Poll: ANO, Civic Democrats, strengthen in voter preference

09-02-2016 08:49 | Jan Velinger

A new poll conducted by TNS Aisa as part of a project entitled Trendy Česka (Czech Trends) suggests that the ANO movement would gain 30 percent of the vote in a national election today. ANO finished well ahead of fellow ruling coalition members the Social Democrats, who notched 20 percent. The opposition Civic Democrats ranked third, at 10 percent – one percent higher than the Communists. Opposition party TOP 09 and junior coalition member the Christian Democrats were the last parties to pass the five percent threshold needed to gain seats in the lower house of Parliament. Some 1,200 people were questioned in the poll. 

Defence ministry confirms plans to spend 1.2 billion crowns on munitions

08-02-2016 18:53 | Jan Velinger

The Defence Ministry has announced plans to spend around 1.2 billion crowns on munitions in 2016 to refill depleted stocks especially for ground and air forces. The news was confirmed on Monday by the ministry press department’s Jiří Caletka. Stocks dropped in years of austerity measures introduced by the last centre-right government. The estimate is not final, depending on the result of public tenders as well as the exchange rate in the case of purchases by NSPA serving NATO members. 

Civic Democrat chairman slams National Security Council

08-02-2016 16:49 | Jan Velinger

The head of the opposition Civic Democrats Petr Fiala has slammed the National Security Council over information reported in the media that an alleged six million crown ransom was paid for the release of two Czech women held in Pakistan last year. Antonie Chrástecká and Hana Humpálová were released last March after two years of captivity. At the time, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec denied that any negotiations were held or ransom paid to the kidnappers, believed to be linked to al-Qaeda. In its most recent issue, the weekly Respekt claims otherwise. Petr Fiala criticised not the ransom but the leak of information, which – in his view – could put other Czechs at risk in the future. 

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