News Three dozen protest in front of Russian embassy
Around three dozen people demonstrated in front of the Russian embassy in Prague on Saturday, holding up signs and placards calling on Russia to stop military intervention in Ukraine. Six police officers monitored the protest; no incidents were reported. One of the demonstrators, a Russian national, said he had come out to express solidarity with an injured Ukrainian colleague. He said he was against war and against the occupation of Ukraine, which he called a tragedy for both countries.
Another demonstration in front of the embassy followed on Sunday, this time attended by several hundred people.
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The Czech minister of health, Svatopluk Němeček, says he wants to work with doctors unions in finding a solution to the problem of medics doing excessive overtime. Mr. Němeček said on Saturday that he would next week ask Martin Engel, the chairman of the Czech Doctor’s Trade Union, to specify what action his body wants from the Ministry of Health. The union recently said that if the legal limit of 416 hours of overtime a year was adhered to there would not be enough doctors to serve patients in the country’s hospitals.
A group of Iraqi Christian refugees who left the Czech Republic for Germany have appealed their forced return to the Czech Republic, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees told the Czech News Agency. The date of their deportation has not yet been set, the agency said. The group of 25 were brought to the Czech Republic by the NGO Generation 21 in early April along with around 125 other Iraqi Christians. However, they left soon afterwards for Germany, where they were detained shortly after crossing the border.
The Czech Republic and the German state of Saxony have agreed on the joint construction of a new high-speed rail connection between Prague and Dresden. The line, which involves the construction of a tunnel under the Krušné Hory mountain range, should be in operation by 2030. It is expected to cut the current journey time between the two cities from two hours to just one.
Seven people were seriously injured when a bus crashed near Kadaň in northwest Bohemia on Friday evening. Eighteen other passengers were also hurt in the incident which occurred when the bus hit large exposed municipal hot water pipes by the side of the road. Three of the injured were taken to hospital by helicopter, though their lives are not in danger, according to a police spokesperson. Around 5,000 people in the area were left without hot water and heating when the collision interrupted supplies.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has dismissed Karel Kadlec from the police force after he rammed 51 parked cars with his SUV while in a state of inebriation in Prague earlier this month. The 46-year-old is being investigated by the police’s internal affairs unit and could face three years in prison if found guilty of endangerment under the influence. Mr. Kadlec apologised for the damage caused and offered to pay compensation.
The Czech government will not aid the ailing coal mining company OKD, but will focus on helping miners who are to be laid off, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday following talks with trade unions and employers. Friday was the deadline for a possible deal with the government which would allow the OKD mines to remain in operation. Bankruptcy procedures are now likely to start within days. The company has close to 10,000 stem employees and thousands of other jobs in the region are dependent on it.
Interior minister moves to dispel public concern regarding claims of new migrant route across Czech Republic
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has moved to dispel public concern with regard to claims in the German media that the Czech Republic was being used by illegal migrants as an alternate route to Germany. The minister said that in the course of the past two months German police had detained four cars with illegal migrants who had allegedly crossed the Czech-German border and the Czech police detained two cars with migrants seeking to make an illegal crossing. The number of migrants who enter the Czech Republic is minimal and there is nothing at all to indicate a new migrant route forming, the minister said.
The Czech unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in March, according to the Czech Statistics Office, which has a different means of calculating unemployment than the Labour Office which registered a 6.1 percent unemployment rate in March. The figure published by the Czech Statistics Office puts unemployment at a 20-year-low and would make the Czech Republic the country with the lowest unemployment rate in the EU.
A convoy of American WWII jeeps passed through the Prague city centre on Friday within the end-of-the-war remembrance events taking place in the country. The veterans’ convoy stopped at the US Embassy in Prague where it was greeted by Ambassador Andrew Shapiro, who thanked the organizers of the event for keeping alive the memory of US soldiers who had laid down their lives to bring Europe freedom and security. The convoy will also appear at the end-of-war celebrations in Plzen which was liberated by US units commanded by General George S. Patton.
Adam Bartoš, the leader of the far-right National Democracy party has been charged with inciting ethnic hatred in connection with statements he made at a Prague rally against Islam. Bartoš slammed the Czech government for its “soft” policy on the migrant issue, saying the politicians in office were traitors who deserved the ultimate punishment. The head of the National Democracy party spent the night in detention while the police searched his home and office confiscating documents and computers.