News PM Sobotka rejects ex-ministers’ call for sanctions against Russia over Crimea

15-03-2014 16:25 | Ian Willoughby

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected a call from three former ministers for the Czech Republic to impose sanctions on Russia until it withdraws its troops from Ukraine’s Crimea region. The demand was made by Martin Bursík, Michael Kocáb and Luboš Dobrovský, all of whom served in right-wing governments. Mr. Sobotka said the current Czech cabinet would not under any circumstances impose unilateral sanctions. However, he and his colleagues were prepared to back a joint EU position on the matter, he said. Mr. Sobotka added that the Czech Republic had significant links with the Russian market and blanket sanctions would threaten jobs.

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Football: Sparta, Slovan face sanctions over Europa League crowd trouble

24-10-2014 17:54 | Jan Richter

Sparta Prague and Slovan Bratislava face sanctions from UEFA, the governing body of European football, following crowd violence during their Europa League tie in Bratislava on Thursday night. The game was suspended for 40 minutes shortly before half time after violent exchanges occurred between fans of the teams. Sparta eventually won the game 3-0. The hosts now face stadium closure for failing to prevent the disturbances while Sparta’s fans could be banned from travelling to their team’s away games. Both clubs have condemned the incident. A verdict by UEFA’s disciplinary committee is expected next week, the Czech FA said. 

President Zeman on Chinese visit

24-10-2014 17:49 | Jan Richter

President Miloš Zeman is in China on the first official visit by a Czech head of state to the country in 10 years. Mr Zeman on Friday visited a trade show in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, and met with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai to discuss plans to launch a direct flight connection between their countries, a spokesman for the Czech president said. Mr Zeman is accompanied by a large business delegation which includes representatives of Czech industrial companies, universities, wine producers, legal firms, railway operators, and others. The Czech head of state is scheduled to meet with the Chinese president and prime minister on Monday, the last day of his Chinese visit. 

Killer of Social Democrat figure sentenced to 17.5 years

24-10-2014 17:04 | Jan Richter

A man convicted of last year’s murder of an influential Social Democrat politician has been sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. The court said that the man, a former army officer, gunned down Roman Houska in front of his home in the northern city of Ústí nad Labem in what looked like an execution, and rejected the shooter’s claims that he acted in self-defence. Media reports described the killing as a contract murder but the court said no motive had been established. However, if new evidence emerges, the authorities will act accordingly, the court said. 

Tennis: Kvitová knocked out of WTA Finals

24-10-2014 16:54 | Jan Richter

Top Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová lost to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 2-6 3-6 in the group stage of the WTA Finals in Singapore on Friday, and has been eliminated from the event. Kvitová went ahead at the start of both sets but lost her lead after a series of errors and poor serving. The 24-year-old Czech said she was exhausted but would be in shape for the Czech Fed Cup team’s tie against Germany in Prague next month. 

Romany musician Eugen Horváth dies aged 74

24-10-2014 16:10 | Jan Richter

Renowned Romany musician Eugen Horváth died on Friday at the age of 74, the Museum of Romany Culture in Brno said. The Slovak-born Horváth, known as Janko, came from a musical family, and learned the play the violin at an early age. In 1969, he formed his own cimbalom band which recorded several albums including the 1992 record Gypsy Weeping. 

Finance Ministry cuts GDP growth forecast

24-10-2014 15:54 | Jan Richter

The Czech Finance Ministry has lowered its forecast for this year’s GDP growth to 2.4 percent, down from its previous estimate of 2.7 percent. The ministry said is cut the forecast due to revisions of the country’s economic growth in the previous quarters as calculated according to a new European methodology, known as ESA 2010. In the next two years, the ministry expects the economy to grow by 2.5 percent, mainly because of growing domestic consumption. 

MPs overturn president’s veto on civil service bill

24-10-2014 15:49 | Jan Richter

Czech MPs on Friday voted to approve the government’s civil service bill, overturning the president’s veto of the legislation. The bill should depoliticize public administration and overhaul the rules for the employment of public servants. However, the president had earlier warned he would file a complaint with the Constitutional Court if the bill is approved. Mr Zeman criticized, among other things, the fact that the legislation formally introduces posts of politically appointed deputy ministers. A civil service bill was first adopted by the Czech Parliament in 2002 as a prerequisite for the country’s accession to the EU but has never been implemented. 

Czech Airliners unions cancel strike over lay-offs, salary cuts

24-10-2014 15:15 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Trade unions at the Czech national carrier Czech Airlines have cancelled plans to go on strike next Thursday over lay-offs and salary cuts. The decision came after the firm's management promised on Friday to “limit the impact” of the restructuring. Earlier this week, the troubled firm announced salary cuts and massive layoffs; some 170 of the airline’s 400 cabin crew members are set to lose their jobs under the plan. However, the agreement will not affect the basic features of the plan, Václav Řehoř, the head of Czech Airlines’ mother company, Czech Aeroholding, said. 

UK cancer patient Ashya King completes proton therapy treatment

24-10-2014 12:23 | Jan Richter

Five-year-old British cancer patient Ashya King received a final dose of proton beam therapy on Friday, concluding his six-week long treatment at Prague’s Proton Therapy Centre, doctors at the facility said, adding that the boy has coped well with the treatment and is now able to eat and sit by himself and move his hands. The patient is now set to return to Spain for rehabilitation. The physicians are optimistic about the boy’s prognosis but said they would only be able to say whether the treatment has been successful in several moths’ time.

Ashya King’s story received international attention after his parents took him from a UK hospital in August without his doctors‘ consent. They took him to Spain where they were arrested before being allowed to come to Prague for the special treatment. 

MPs postpone vote on controversial child care bill

24-10-2014 12:09 | Jan Richter

The lower house of the Czech Parliament has postponed a vote on controversial child care legislation. The bill would require all nurseries, kindergartens and informal babysitting groups to comply with strict hygiene rules which critics say would threaten their existence. It would also most likely lead to the closure of some 120 outdoor nurseries known as forest kindergartens. The bill, approved by MPs last month, returned to the lower house after a presidential veto and a new vote on the legislation was on Friday. But the coalition Christian Democrats said MPs should first determine whether the bill should be amended. 

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