News No members of the government attend banquet at Russian embassy
No members of the centre-left government led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka have attended a banquet at the Russian embassy in Prague marking Victory Day (69 years this Friday since Nazi Germany capitulated to the Soviet Union). Czechs mark the end of WW II a day earlier, on May 8. The Czech news daily Právo writes that although government representatives did not take part, other politicians, such as the leader of the Communist Party Vojtěch Filip, were expected. Former president Václav Klaus also attended.
Earlier, the chairman of the lower house, Jan Hamáček, attended a ceremony at Prague’s Olšany cemetery, laying a wreath in the memory of 140,000 Soviet soldiers who died on Czechoslovak soil fighting against Nazi Germany.
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The Czech tennis player Karolína Plíšková was beaten in the final of the UK’s Eastbourne tournament on Saturday by Dominika Cibulková of Slovakia. The 5-7 3-6 defeat denied Plíšková her second WTA title of the season and despite reaching the final at Eastbourne she is set to remain at 17th in the world rankings.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says Europe may pay an excessively high price for his UK counterpart David Cameron’s pledge to hold an EU referendum in order to unify his Conservative Party prior to elections. Speaking a day after the UK’s vote to leave sent shockwaves around the bloc, Mr. Sobotka said that would had happened was not the end of European integration – just the end of the UK in the EU. The Czech leader said the main thing now was agreeing co-existence with Great Britain under conditions advantageous to the Czech Republic; the priority is ensuring the maintenance of smooth exports and good conditions for Czechs working in the UK, he said.
The Czech Republic is likely to join the prestigious Ariane and Vega space programme run by the European Space Agency at the start of July, the Czech News Agency reported on Saturday. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has pledged to provide financial backing, saying he wished to support the country’s orientation in the aviation and space industries. Czech firms and researchers are expected to take part in the development, testing and production of parts for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, whose first test flight is scheduled for 2020. A spokesperson for the Czech Ministry of Transport said the country would come on board once the move had been approved by existing ESA members.
An express train crashed into a shunting locomotive at Brno’s Main Train Station on Saturday morning. The train was not carrying passengers at the time. The train’s locomotive derailed after the driver went through a signal, crashing into the shunting locomotive and causing injuries to its driver. Czech Railways officials put the damage at around CZK 3 million.
Forecasters have warned of major storms in the Czech Republic on Saturday. After record-breaking temperatures on Thursday and Friday, heavy downpours, hailstones and wind storms are expected to hit between 3 PM and 3 AM. Bohemia will be most affected with storms also likely in parts of Moravia and Silesia slightly later. Temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius should then fall to between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius, meteorologist Štefan Handžák told Czech Radio.
Parts of Prague Castle were closed on Friday evening for the birthday party of Martin Nejedlý, chief advisor to President Miloš Zeman. The head of state was among the well-wishers at the event hosted by Mr. Nejedlý, who headed a Czech branch of Lukoil, at the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace and adjacent Royal Gardens. They had never previously been rented out for a private or commercial event, Novinky.cz reported. Also in attendance at the party were cabinet ministers, two former prime ministers and the Russian ambassador.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who is on a two-day working visit to Austria, met with the country’s Chancellor Christian Kern on Friday. Mr Kern said after the meeting that the talks were dominated by Britain’s decision to leave the EU. The Czech Prime Minister stressed that it was essential for the central European countries to strengthen good mutual relationships, especially in view of Brexit. The two politicians also discussed European issues, the migrant crisis, transport infrastructure and energy security.
Police seized over 107 kilogrammes of pervitin last year, the largest amount in the history of the anti-drug squad and twice the amount seized in the previous year, according to the annual report by the National anti-drug headquarters quoted by the Czech News Agency on Friday. The police also took hold of over 655 kilos of marihuana and over 120 kilos of cocaine. According to experts, the illegal drug business is fuelled by growing demand for pervitin in neighbouring countries. In recent years, the large-scale production of pervitin has been dominated mostly by Vietnamese gangs, which aim at exporting the drug abroad.
The tropical heatwave that arrived in the Czech Republic this week has been breaking temperature records around the country. More than 15 monitoring stations on Thursday recorded the highest ever measurements for the day. The highest temperature, 32.9 degrees Celsius, was recorded in Žatec. Meteorologists have warned that the heatwave will be followed by heavy storms, which are expected to arrive in the country on Saturday afternoon and could be accompanied by hail and torrential rain.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych will face Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in the first round of Wimbledon. Radek Štěpánek, who has received a wild card to the tournament, will play Australian Nick Kyrgios in his opening match. In the women’s singles, the tenth-seeded double Wibledon Champion Petra Kvitová will play Sorana Cirstea of Romania, while Barbora Strýcová has drawn Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. Another Czech, Lucie Šafářová, will face her double’s partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands.