News Tomáš Berdych reaches second successive final at ATP Dubai Tennis Championships
Tomáš Berdych defeated Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5 7-5 in the semi-finals of the ATP Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday. The world number six has thus reached his second successive Dubai final. He will now face Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer in Saturday's game.
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Czech resident Miloš Zeman will take part in a conference at Prague Castle to mark the 15th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s membership of NATO. The Czech Republic joined alongside Poland and Hungary at a ceremony in Independence, Missouri. A special guest at the Prague conference will be former NATO Secretary General George Robertson, who led the security alliance during the Czech Republic’s first years as a member. Czech Minister of Defence Martin Stropnický wrote on Wednesday that NATO membership was the main Czech goal after the collapse of communism and was a significant and symbolic sign that the country had been accepted as part of the West.
The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution recognising former Czech president Václav Havel’s contribution to the fight against communism, to the Velvet Revolution of November 1989, and entry of the Czech Republic into NATO. The resolution will also result in a bust of Havel joining those of a select few foreign and US leaders in the Congress building. Only three foreign statesmen have previously received such recognition. Havel was already awarded the US’ highest civil award, the medal for freedom, in 2003.
In ice hockey, Czech coach Miloš Řiha has unexpectedly been sacked from his job as trainer of the Continental League team Avangard Omsk. The Russian team said that Řiha did not turn up to lead the team’s training session on Monday. Řiha said that he was ill. The Czech trainer moved to Omsk after leading HC Pardubice in the 2012-2013 season. He previously trained Petrograd and Spartak Moscow during an eight year stint in the Russian league and was named the best trainer in that league in 2011.
Czech Winter Olympics snowboardcross gold medallist Eva Samková has been seriously injured during training for a world cup event in Switzerland. Samková badly damaged her ankle, one arm, and was severely concussed after falling badly at the end of a jump. She was taken to hospital by helicopter. Samková was training in her first event since the Sochi games. Her coach said that organizers had been warned about the danger of the jump where Samková and other competitors were injured.
Czech president Miloš Zeman has dismissed any resurrection of US plans to construct an anti-missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland by saying it would be ineffective. Zeman’s spokesman said that the head of state was standing by his long held views on Czech participation in a US anti-missile defence system. Republican Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain suggested the US revive its plans for a radar station in the Czech Republic and anti-missile base in Poland as reaction to Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine crisis. The plans developed under former president George W Bush were quickly dropped by successor Barack Obama soon after he became president. Moscow frequently protested the proposed siting of the missile defence system in Central Europe saying that it was aimed at undermining its defences and not a move to counter so-called ‘rogue states’.
Members of the Czech NGO Dekomunizace have raised a giant banner at City Hall in Liberec, north of Prague, casting Russian leader Vladimir Putin as Adolf Hitler - complete with the Nazi dictator’s moustache and medals on his overcoat featuring the swastika and the red star. The banner was hung close to a memorial remembering nine in Liberec who were killed during the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Dekomunizace, dedicated to casting light on crimes committed by the former regime, made clear it was protesting Russia’s recent invasion of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine’s domestic politics. The banner was raised with permission by City Hall; the police, however, began to investigate after charges were filed.
Brno Christian Democrats say they will push for an amendment requiring parents to register their pre-schoolers at nursery schools in the same district as their home address. Local district mayor Klára Liptáková pointed out that a loophole in legislation currently allowed parents to register their children at schools in neighbouring districts or further, afield, taking up spots which would otherwise go to local children. Generally, placement in nursery schools can be limited; the aim, officials said, was to ensure a better balance so that some facilities were not overburdened while others had trouble filling classrooms. The mayor and other Brno Christian Democrats plan to address their party MPs.
The British Embassy and Prague City Hall are discussing possible sites for a new monument commemorating Czechoslovak pilots who served in Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II, the British Ambassador to Prague Jan Thompson has said. The statue, a winged lion to be cast in bronze, was funded by the British community and will be unveiled in a special ceremony on June 17. Eighty-eight Czechoslovak airmen fought in the Battle of Britain; over the course of the war, a total of 2,500 Czechoslovaks served in the RAF.
Dutch retail chain Ahold is seeking to leapfrog its rivals with the purchase of Spar’s Czech outlets. Ahold has agreed to pay over 5 billion crowns for the 36 Czech hypermarkets and 14 supermarkets operated by the Austrian firm. The extra annual sales of around 15 billion crowns would catapult Ahold from third to first place as the Czech Republic’s biggest retailer. Ahold currently trails Kaufland and Tesco. The deal has still to be approved by the Czech competition office.
The Czech Republic has signed a tax exchange agreement with the Bahamas, the Ministry of Finance announced on Tuesday. The agreement had already been hammered out by the start of 2012 but has waited until now to be signed. The information exchange with the Caribbean tax haven will take effect when it is ratified by parliament and signed by the Czech head of state. Prague has already sealed 13 such tax exchange agreements with other states. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš described such agreements as an effective tool for uncovering tax evasion by Czechs. One of Bahamas most notorious Czech residents is the so-called pirate of Prague, Viktor Kožený.