News Zeman to attend cabinet meeting

14-07-2014 16:16 | Jan Velinger

The Czech head-of-state will attend a cabinet meeting next Monday, according to his spokesman. Mr Zeman had promised to attend earlier several times but his attendance had been put off for various reasons. The president is expected to bring up issues including economic diplomacy and relations with target countries, as well as to take a critical stance on delays, for example, in passing a bill on social housing or steps taken in the health care sector, which he in the past labelled a ‘black hole’ for funds.

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Police detain Hungarian lorry carrying 80 illegal migrants

31-07-2015 11:14 | Daniela Lazarová

The police are reported to have detained a Hungarian lorry carrying 80 illegal migrants. According to Czech television the lorry was detained on the D5 highway in the Tachov region. A police spokeswoman said the migrants were being questioned and confirmed that the driver of the lorry was a foreign national. 

Czech mortgage market grows by a third to 88 billion crowns in H1

31-07-2015 11:10 | Jan Velinger

Banks in the Czech Republic provided almost 50,000 mortgage loans for 88 billion crowns to individuals in the first half of this year, compared with over 41,000 mortgage loans for 67.9 billion granted a year earlier, Hypoteční banka told the Czech news Agency, citing Regional Development Ministry statistics. The bank’s CEO Jan Sadil said that if there were no unexpected changes, 2015 would be a record year in terms of mortgage loans. The CEO outlined a combination of factors as having influenced growth, namely record-low interest rates, stable economic conditions with a positive outlook, increased activity by developers selling and building new housing projects mainly in large towns, and growing real estate prices. 

Czech-born figure skating legend Ája Vrzáňová-Steindler dies at 84

31-07-2015 08:43 | Jan Velinger

Figure skating legend Ája Vrzáňová-Steindler, who won back-to-back world championships in 1949 and 1950 in Paris and London, has died at the age of 84. After travelling to London, Vrzáňová defected, opting not to return to Stalinist Czechoslovakia which had pressured her to end her career. Her family was later repeatedly harassed and threatened by the Communist regime. Vrzáňová settled in the US, marrying restaurant owner Pavel Steindler in 1969. The former champion was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2009. 

Former opera singer, sister, may be two who died from smoke inhalation in Prague fire

30-07-2015 19:16 | Jan Velinger

A fire in a family home in the Ořechovka neighbourhood in Střešovice, Prague, claimed the lives of two elderly women, aged 87 and 92, early Thursday morning. Why the fire broke out is unknown but investigators are treating the case as one of negligence resulting in death. Emergency workers at the scene found both women already unconscious from smoke inhalation and were unable to save either. On Thursday afternoon, the Czech News Agency reported the women who died may have been renowned former opera soprano Ludmila Dvořáková and her sister Květoslava. Neither identity, however, has been officially confirmed. 

Court rules that Prague must pay IDS more than 180 million owed for Blanka tunnel work

30-07-2015 17:26 | Jan Velinger

A court has wrapped up an arbitration case between the engineering and construction company IDS (Inženýring dopravních staveb) and the city of Prague, ruling that the city must pay 183 million crowns plus interest owed the firm for work on the Blanka tunnel complex. The news was confirmed by Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek. The interest, meanwhile, amounts to just under 14 million. The deputy mayor said an arbitration case was the only way forward in the disagreement over work conducted and monies owed; he stressed that while he regretted the high amount, it was less than the 300 million IDS had sought. A spokesman for IDS confirmed the company was satisfied by the result. Both sides will still have to sort out other invoices which still remain unpaid, the Czech News Agency noted. 

Iraqi pilots begin to receive training in Czech Republic

30-07-2015 14:07 | Jan Velinger

Thirty-one Iraqi pilots have begun training on L-159 fighter jets in the Czech Republic, Deputy Chief of the general Staff of the Armed Forces František Maleninský and Defence Minister Martin Stropnický confirmed. Training on the jets could take over a year; the pilots are to be joined by ground crews who will be given maintenance training. Earlier this year, the Czech Republic agreed to a 750 million crown deal with Iraq on the purchase of 15 L-159s the Czechs no longer need. The price was later adjusted to 780 million due to fluctuation in currency exchange. 

Defence minister says US convoy will travel through Czech Republic to take part in NATO military exercise

30-07-2015 13:47 | Jan Velinger

A US military convoy, numbering around 100 vehicles and several hundred military personnel, will likely travel through the Czech Republic and neighbouring Slovakia in September to take part in a NATO ground forces military exercise in Hungary. The news was revealed by Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, who said the announcement was tentative and that full details of the transfer were still to be discussed. US troops are expected to spend less than 48 hours in all on Czech soil, after they depart a US base in Vilseck, Germany. In March of this year, a similar convoy but greater in strength, dubbed the Dragoon Ride, travelled through the Czech Republic following operations in the Baltic States. 

Pendolino lead car may be largely beyond repair

30-07-2015 11:27 | Jan Velinger

Further inspection of a Pendolino train badly damaged in a tragic head-on collision in Moravia suggests that only the undercarriage of the lead car is likely be salvaged and that the rest of the car could be beyond repair. The head of Prague's Track Vehicles Depot, Miroslav Kupec, confirmed the news. Damage to the vehicle in the tragic collision in Studénka, Moravia, has been estimated at 150 million crowns but could have been considerably higher had the train's driver not braked heavily. In the accident, a Polish truck driver drove onto the track, allegedly ignoring warning signals; the crash killed three people. Representatives of Czech Railways, insurance companies as well the manufacturer of the Pendolino, Alstom, have been meeting to work out the eventual cost of repairs. 

Government agrees to refurbishing and continued technical support for Sokol helicopter fleet

30-07-2015 11:08 | Jan Velinger

The government has agreed to a plan for the general overhaul of eight Sokol helicopters as well as the continuation of standard service repairs of all ten used by the military up until 2021. The general overhaul and repairs (but also spare parts and training of flight and repair crews) are expected to cost the Defence Ministry around one billion crowns. The Sokol copters are used primarily in air rescue, or search and rescue, missions as well as within the Medevac programme. 

Prague Zoo sees birth of first silvery gibbon in Czech Republic

30-07-2015 10:06 | Jan Velinger

A silvery gibbon female at Prague Zoo, has given birth to a healthy baby - the first born in captivity in the Czech Republic. The parents are the female Alangalang and male Flip, both ten years old, who were acquired by the zoo last year. Alangalang arrived in Prague from Howletts, England, and Flip from Munich. Both take excellent care of their young, Prague Zoo said. In the wild, silvery gibbons live on Java and rank as the most endangered of primates. 

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