News President signs law extending period of service soldiers need to qualify for veteran status

06-05-2014 14:11 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has signed into law legislation requiring that soldiers serve at least 90 days in a conflict zone before they can be considered war veterans. Previously they were defined as veterans after 30 days of such service. The minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said the move would help maintain the high moral credit attached to the status of war veteran. Soldiers who take part in operations with a lower security risk must serve 360 days to qualify as vets.

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Over 430 million donated through text messages since 2004

22-12-2014 13:19 | Jan Richter

Since their invention in 2004, Czechs have sent around 17 million donation text messages, the Donors Forum said on Monday. In total, more than 430 million crowns has been donated through mobile devices, the group said. Known as DMS, donation text messages were invented in the Czech Republic, and were first used in a fundraising campaign for disadvantaged children in 2004. DMSs have since become popular with Czech donors who last year gave over 36 million crowns in this way. 

Regular radio interviews with President Zeman to end

22-12-2014 13:01 | Jan Richter

Regular live radio interviews with President Miloš Zeman will be most likely discontinued after Czech Radio CEO Peter Duhan said the programme’s future editions of would have to be pre-recorded, an idea previously rejected by the president. Mr Zeman came under fire over vulgar remarks he delivered in November’s edition of the programme; Czech Radio’s supervising board later said the public broadcaster breached the law by airing the interview. 

MPs postpone new VAT on building lots

22-12-2014 12:23 | Jan Richter

The lower house of Parliament on Monday approved a Senate proposal to postpone the introduction of a 21-percent value-added tax on building lost by one year. Senators argued that the introduction of the new tax could thwart some the sales of land that had already been arranged. The new tax will come into force in January 2016. The MPs on Monday also relaxed the rules for the newly introduced obligation to report VAT to the tax authorities; under the new rules, self-employed VAT payers will only be required to send in their reports every three months rather than each month. 

Armed robber holds up JIP supermarket

22-12-2014 11:06 | Jan Velinger

A man held employees at a JIP supermarket at gunpoint in Pardubice, east of Prague, on Monday, making off with at least one million crowns, the Czech News Agency reports. The firm itself released no information but ČTK points out that the criminal police are involved. Police have plate numbers from the suspect’s vehicle and are tracking to see if it was stolen. Police units, equipped with bullet-proof vests and automatic weapons, are monitoring roads in the area for a sign of the perpetrator. If caught and found guilty, he faces up to 10 years behind bars. 

Experts start clearing Vrbětice munitions depot

22-12-2014 10:44 | Jan Velinger

Pyrotechnics experts have begun clearing the site of a damaged munitions depot in Vrbětice, eastern Moravia. The operation started on Monday morning after no spontaneous explosions had occurred at the site for nine days. Experts will first comb the surrounding forest and meadows for any unexploded munitions potentially tossed the wayside by earlier explosions at the site before moving inside the depot. Any munitions found will be either transferred to a new holding area or will be destroyed on site. The depot near Zlín was partially destroyed by a massive blast in October which killed two employees and led to further uncontrolled explosions, putting the local community at risk. 

Two people die in traffic accident in Vamberk

21-12-2014 15:37 | Jan Velinger

Two people died in a car crash near Vamberk in the area of Rychnov; two others were injured. The police confirmed the accident had taken place ahead of a roundabout. It was a tragic weekend for motorists on Czech roads: eight people lost their lives in traffic accidents. 

Špinar to be new artistic director of drama at National Theatre

21-12-2014 15:33 | Jan Velinger

Long-time in-house director Daniel Špinar will succeed Michal Dočekal as the artistic director of drama at Prague’s National Theatre. The latter’s mandate ends in June 2015; he was artistic director for 12 years. Mr Špinar (35) was chosen for the post by National Theatre head Jan Burian, after taking part in a tender for the post and receiving backing from an expert committee, which screened numerous candidates. 

Survey: Forty percent of Czechs give to charity at Christmas

21-12-2014 15:32 | Jan Velinger

A new survey conducted by the Ipsos agency for Profi Credit suggests that 40 percent of Czechs (and 46 percent of Slovaks) give to charity at Christmastime. According to the poll, which involved 4,000 respondents, more than two-thirds of Czechs donated to children in need, either at orphanages or in hospital or suffering from disabilities. Seniors were the second-largest group to receive donations, the poll found, and animal charities, third. 

Two people die of smoke inhalation in fire caused by Advent candle

21-12-2014 15:16 | Jan Velinger

Two people, a 27-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man, died of apparent smoke inhalation in their apartment in Prague on Sunday when a candle left burning caused a Christmas wreath to catch fire. The fire, in the hallway, burned itself out even before firefighters arrived. Medics tried to revive the two but were unable to save them. Their two dogs also died in the tragedy. Autopsies have been ordered. 

Moratorium on activity at damaged munitions site to end

21-12-2014 14:14 | Jan Velinger

A nine-day moratorium on the removal of munitions from the damaged facility in Vrbětice runs out at midnight on Sunday. If no uncontrolled explosions are heard, the job to begin clearing live munitions from the unstable site can begin. The storage facility, being guarded by the Czech Army, became an unexpected threat after an initial blast in October cratered part of the site and killed two employees. The government has scrambled to find a solution, calling in the military to ensure safety and security as the size of the problem became apparent. 

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