News PM: Deploying NATO troops in Ukraine unjustified
NATO should not deploy its troops in Ukraine even in the event of further acts of aggression on the part of Russia, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement for the ctk news agency on Thursday. The prime minister stressed that since NATO’s character and role are essentially defensive the alliance should only respond with military force if one of its member states comes under attack. The statement is in sharp contrast with the view expressed by President Miloš Zeman who has urged the toughest possible EU sanctions and even a NATO military presence in Ukraine should Russia try to annex any other parts of the country. The crisis in Ukraine is expected to be high on the agenda of Thursdays talks with the visiting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’.
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A record number of visitors on Saturday came to see the carnival at the open-air museum at Veselý Kopec, near Hlinsko in eastern Bohemia. More than 2,000 people watched a group of young men from a village called Vortová, performing a procession with masks. The centuries-old folk tradition, which remained intact in several communities in the area, was added to the UNESCO list of world heritage in 2010.
People from the north Bohemian municipalities of Bílina and Chomutov are casting their ballot in a fresh round of municipal election, after a regional court cancelled the previous election results due to fraud. Several people from the region have already been charged with vote buying. Police and members of anti-corruption initiatives are overseeing the voting. The voter turnout has been very low so far. Local elections also take place in 13 municipalities, which didn't have enough candidates in October.
Two women, one of them Czech, were killed and 24 injured in a bus crash in Slovakia in the early hours of Saturday. The accident happened on the D1 motorway near the village of Spišský Štvrtok in the Levoča district in eastern Slovakia. The regular coach bus, heading from Prague to Uzghorod in Ukraine, swerved off the snow covered road and hit a utility pole. The cause of the incident is being investigated but it is likely that it was caused by the driver, who was going too fast for the conditions.
Dozens of cold water enthusiasts have taken part in the traditional winter swim in the Vltava river in Prague's district of Braník. Altogether 192 swimmers from the Czech Repulic and abroad took pluge in the icy river on Saturday as part of the annual Branické ledy competition, which is now in its 13th year. The absolute winner of the event is Czech Rostislav Vítek, who covered the longest, nine-kilometre track, in nine minutes and fifteen seconds.
Some 400 people are attending a protest against Islam at Prague's Old Town Square on Saturday, organized by the group We Do Not Want Islam in the Czech Republic. After the gathering, the protesters are set to march to the seat of the Interior Ministry at Prague's Letná. Among those who attended the protest were a number of politicians, including Tomio Okamura, leader of the controversial Dawn Party, and Jana Volfová, head of the non-parliamentary Czech Suverenity movement. Around forty people have also attended the gathering in support of the minorities.
According to a survey conducted by the CVVM polling agency, public trust in president Miloš Zeman has gone up in January. Some 44 percent of people who took part in the poll said they trusted the president, which is an increase by ten percent compared to the previous month. The president's trust rating took a dive last October following a series of controversial moves by Mr Zeman, including his use of vulgar language in a radio interview. President Zeman had the trust of 61 percent of Czechs when he took office in March of 2013.
The Vysehrad Codex, a latin illuminated manuscript, which is regarded as one of the most valuable historical treasures in the Czech Republic, has gone on display in Prague. The manuscript, written in 1085 to mark the coronation of the first Czech king, Vratislav II, is temporarily installed in the Mirror Chapel at Prague's Clementinum. The Vysehrad Codex is listed as a national cultural heritage and was last displayed to the public in 1969. Security at Clementinum has been tightened due to the immense value of the manuscript.
Czech police in December arrested members of an organised network, which has allegedly been importing counterfeit 500 euro banknotes in the Czech Republic. According to the police, the money was forged in Bulgaria and distributed in the Czech Republic and other EU states. Spokesman of the Czech Police's Organised Crime Unit Pavel Hanták said on Friday that the group produced 90 percent of all fake 500 euro banknotes seized in the Czech Republic last year. Nine members of the group, including one Czech national, were charged with counterfeiting so far. If found guilty, they are facing up to 12 years in prison.
A new poll released by the STEM agency suggests that the popularity of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has continued to go up. The survey found that 63 percent of respondents view the prime minister positively, which is the best result Mr Sobotka has registered so far. ANO party leader Andrej Babiš remains the most popular head of a parliamentary party with 72 percent. On the contrary, the popularity of Tomio Okamura, the leader of the controversial Dawn Party, has been gradually dropping, since reaching its peak after early elections in 2013.
Czech doctors last year registered 232 new cases of HIV infection, mostly among men. According to the figures released by the National Reference Laboratory for HIV/AIDS on Friday, 34 people developed full blown AIDS and 13 people died of the disease in 2014. So far the highest number of new HIV cases was registered in 2013, when it reached 235. Altogether 2,354 people have been diagnosed HIV-positive since 1985, when testing for HIV in the Czech Republic started. There has been a steady increase in cases since 2003.