News Ukraine needs strong leader not gangster, even with angelic smile and braids, says Czech president

15-04-2014 16:30 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says Ukraine needs a strong leader but not one of the gangsters who has ruled the country in recent years, even with an angelic smile and beautiful braids; this was evidently a reference to former PM and presidential candidate Yulia Timoshenko. Speaking on a visit to the University of Hradec Králové on Tuesday, Mr. Zeman also said it was not possible to provide financial aid to Ukraine as it would end up in the pockets of oligarchs. In response to a question from a student, he said any armed person entering a government building was a criminal, whether at Kiev’s Majdan or in Donetsk.

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Education minister says nothing wrong with wearing hijab in class

31-08-2014 17:23 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Education Minister Marcel Chládek has said he sees nothing wrong with Muslim girls wearing the hijab in class, although he would stop short of allowing a fully covered-face which might be seen as problematic for security reasons. He said the ministry was not going to issue any recommendation in the matter for the time being and it would be up to individual schools to decide what they would or would not allow. The comment comes in the midst of a heated public debate on whether students should be allowed to wear religious symbols in the classroom. 

Fund-raiser for Czech soldiers collects five million crowns

31-08-2014 17:12 | Daniela Lazarová

People have contributed over five million crowns in aid of the families of the five Czech soldiers killed in Afghanistan in June, according to the organizers of the fund raiser. The money comes largely from thousands of small donors who bought stickers and T-shirts reading “I am proud of our soldiers”. Czech singers supported the cause with a charity concert at Prague’s Broadway Theatre. 

PM comes under fire for cautious stand on sanctions

31-08-2014 14:39 | Daniela Lazarová

The prime minister has come under fire on the home front for withholding full support for new EU sanctions against Russia. Deputy-prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek, leader of the Christian Democrats, said “we cannot do to Ukraine what the Munich Agreement did to us” while opposition TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek said the prime minister’s stand was “short-sighted, alibistic and cowardly”. Czech MEPs have also criticized Mr. Sobotká’s cautious approach. MEP Luděk Niedermayer said that diplomacy alone would not suffice to make Russia observe international norms and pointed out that if everyone in the EU considered their economic interests first and foremost there would be no sanctions. 

Caravan causes pile-up

31-08-2014 14:38 | Daniela Lazarová

The D1 highway, linking Prague and Brno, had to be closed to traffic for over an hour on Sunday after a caravan towed by a vehicle came lose and five passenger cars ploughed into it. No one was seriously hurt in the pile up. The accident is being investigated. 

President under fire for attending party election campaign launch

31-08-2014 14:08 | Daniela Lazarová

President Miloš Zeman has come under fire for attending Saturday’s election campaign launch of the Party of Citizen’s Rights which was originally named after him. The president, who is the party’s honorary chairman, came to give delegates his support and wish them success in the autumn Senate and local elections. Critics point out that as head of state Mr. Zeman should be above party politics. 

Czech prime minister calls Russia’s actions in Eastern Ukraine an invasion

31-08-2014 13:11 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech prime minister said on Sunday there was no longer any doubt of a Russian invasion into Eastern Ukraine and expressed the view that the only way out of the crisis was the realization of Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s peace plan. In an interview for Czech Television Mr. Sobotka said there had been a palpable sense of disillusionment among EU leaders stemming from their futile efforts to influence Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Czech prime minister also warned of a potential humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with the offset of winter. 

Prague may reject stricter sanctions in case of high economic losses

31-08-2014 12:52 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech Republic has reserved the right to reject tightened EU sanctions against Russia if they were to cause disproportionately high economic losses, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after Saturday’s EU talks in Brussels. At the talks the Czech prime minister urged a change of EU strategy towards Russia, saying that the first round of sanctions had failed to stop the violence in Ukraine and expressing doubts that additional sanctions would work. The EC is to present a proposal for new sanctions against Russia within a week. The Czech cabinet will study the proposal and we will say which parts we agree with and which we cannot support, Mr. Sobotka told the ctk news agency. He noted that other countries, such as Austria, Hungary and Slovakia have expressed similar reservations to new sanctions. 

Czech president says tougher EU sanctions will be needed if claims of Russian invasion prove true

30-08-2014 16:46 updated | Daniela Lazarová

President Miloš Zeman has expressed the view that tougher sanctions against Russia would be in order if Kiev’s claims of a Russian invasion are shown to be true. If Russia is really sending its troops into Ukraine – and this scenario seems increasingly likely in view of the growing number of Russian soldiers there – then a strong response would be needed, the president said on Saturday. He added that the Czech Republic would also do well to increase its military preparedness and take a bigger part in multinational training exercises. At present Czech planes are helping to protect the airspace of the Baltic countries. 

Prague Harley Days underway in Czech capital

30-08-2014 16:42 | Daniela Lazarová

Over 1,500 Harley-Davidson motorcycles roared through Prague on Saturday at the start of Prague Harley Days, a two-day get together of Harley owners and fans. The gathering which is expected to attract around 10,000 people, includes side events such as an exhibition of Harley veterans, demo-rides and a concert. Visitors will also be able to admire the newest Harley motorcycles – Rushmoore 2015 and Street 750. 

Berdych moves on to third round of the U.S. Open.

30-08-2014 15:45 | Daniela Lazarová

Sixth-seed Tomáš Berdych beat 65th-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in 3 hours, 45 minutes Friday. Klizan double-faulted on break point to give Berdych a 3-1 lead in the final set. Berdych then saved a break point in the next game with a big serve. He fought off two more break points in the last game to serve out the match. Klizan had 66 unforced errors. Berdych reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open two years ago. 

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