News Zeman includes Petr Pavel in traditional round of army promotions
Earlier, in a series of the traditional appointments made on May 8, president Zeman promoted Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant-General Petr Pavel to the top ranking position of Army General. The head of state also recommended that Minister of Defense Martin Stropnický to do his utmost to place Pavel in a top position in the NATO hierarchy. Fifth-two year old Pavel has been Chief of General Staff since 2012. In another move, the son of former general Heliodor Píka, who was executed following a show trial on the orders of Czechoslovak Communist authorities in 1949, Milan Píka, was made a Brigadier General. Zeman said the honour for the 91-year-old was in recognition of his own merits.
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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.
On Monday, pyrotechnics experts will begin a meticulous clean-up operation at the site of a damaged munitions depot in Vrbětice, beginning by combing surrounding forest and meadows for unexploded munitions potentially tossed the wayside by earlier explosions at the site, specifically at destroyed building No.12. Experts will begin at the perimeter, tens of metres from the epicentre, and move gradually in. Any munitions found will be assessed for safety and either transferred to a new holding area or will be destroyed on site. The depot near Zlín saw a massive explosion in October which killed two employees and led to further uncontrolled explosions over days and weeks, putting the local community at risk. The removal of surviving munitions within the depot will depend on all paths out of the site being properly cleared.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
One person was killed, another injured, in a shooting incident in Vysoké Mýto, east of Pardubice, shortly after 12 AM on Saturday. The deceased and the injured man were reportedly part of security at a local discotheque. The police detained two others at the scene and confiscated a firearm for forensics testing. According to one source, the shooter was a member of the local municipal police. The news was confirmed by the town's mayor, who said the officer had not been on duty and that the gun was not a service firearm but privately owned.
Members of an extended team searching for pieces of a bright meteorite, which recently blazed across the night sky and crashed in the area of Zd´ár nad Sázavou in the Czech Republic, have seen success. According to the Czech News Agency, on Saturday they recovered a piece - just a centimetre in size - in a field. The find will still have to be tested in the laboratory. If confirmed, the sample will be 23rd meteor in the world whose celestial orbit and area of origin are known. According to the astronomer Pavel Spurný of the Czech Academy of Sciences the main piece, if found, will be about the size of a fist. Originally, prior to entering the earth's atmosphere, the meteor weighed 200 kilos. Its flight was spotted by hundreds in the region of Vysočina on December 9.
Czech Railways has acquired 50 older train cars from Austria's Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) at the cost of 14.4 million euros, news sit iDnes reports. The train carriages will be used mainly on routes including Prague to Žilina and Budapest and Bohumín and Břeclav. The transport firm reportedly beat out private competitor RegioJet which also had an interest.