Viktoria Plzeň faces Fenerbahce Istanbul in the first leg of Europa League’s round of 16 in Plzeň on Thursday. The hosts, seen as favourites, are looking to extend their nine-game home-winning streak; the Turkish side, meanwhile, will have to do without Portuguese international Raúl Meierles who was banned by UEFA for three games after having been sent off in the competition’s first round. The game starts at 7 PM CET.
President Klaus and Slovak President Ivan Gasparovič have presented each other with the countries’ highest state distinctions on Wednesday afternoon at the Vila Tugenhat in Brno. Mr Klaus presented his counterpart with the Order of the White Lion first class, and received the Slovak Order of the White Double Cross. A number of people staged a protest before the event in front of the venue by turning their backs to the arriving President Klaus, a Facebook group called on people to attend the protest and give fake awards to their friends. Vila Tugenhat was the site of the signing of the document dissolving Czechoslovakia in June 1992.
Czech legend Jaromir Jágr has won the first round of the Golden Hockey Stick, which is annually awarded to the best Czech ice hockey player, based on votes by trainers, hockey officials and sports journalists. The third round, which will be held in the summer, will decide if Jágr will receive the award for the eleventh time in his career.
The Prague city police will return equipment worth all together around 7 million crowns to the city hall. The police chief Eduard Šuster said that his men do not need the equipment, which includes hummers, a hovercraft, motorcycles and other items. The town hall will most likely redistribute the machinery and weapons that were purchased a few years ago either to the fire department or to police in other regions. Mr Šuster, who became head of the municipal police only two months ago, promised in February that the police will do more with less.
The anti-corruption police has made a series of arrests on Tuesday and Wednesday on massive tax evasion charges. Nine people around the country have been charged so far, with eight remaining in police custody. According to the police, suspects were involved in tax evasion by issuing phony invoices to each other’s companies, with damages to the state running into tens of millions of crowns. During some 30 home searches, detectives were able to secure 45 million crowns in cash, as well as some property.
A number of major financial institutions in the Czech Republic were attacked by hackers on Wednesday morning. The websites and internet banking sites of the Czech National Bank and large banks like Česká spořitelna, Komerční banka, and ČSOB were down for a number of hours due to the cyber attack. The website of the Prague Stock Exchange has also been affected, while smaller banks like mBank and AirBank were not attacked by hackers. Spokesperson from the Česká spořitelna bank said that customers’ personal data has not been compromised. This comes in the wake of cyber attacks conducted earlier this week against Czech news websites and the search engine Seznam.
The British folk-rock band Mumford & Sons – winner of this year’s Grammy awards – will perform in Prague on Wednesday night. The band’s Czech premiere was originally supposed to take place in Lucerna’s downstairs Music Club, but given the amount of interest the organizers have moved the concert to Lucerna’s main concert and dance hall.
One person died and another is feared dead following a traffic accident on Tuesday evening on Manes Bridge in the centre of Prague. Sources reported that a 67-year-old motorist veered into the opposite lane and hit a group of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Two people – a 43-year-old woman and a man – were knocked off the bridge in the accident, falling into the Vltava River below. The woman, who was resuscitated by medics after she was pulled from the water, died later in hospital. An intense search for the other person who fell in the river is underway. Two other people in the accident, as well as the driver of the car, suffered minor injuries.
Korean state airlines Korean Air are currently the only interested party in the purchase of the loss-making state-owned Czech Airlines. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Wednesday that Korean Air has offered 2.64 milion Euros, or around 67.5 million crowns, for a 44-percent stake in the company. The offer was "appropriate" in terms of price, and the size of the share and had a significant strategic value, said Mr Kalousek. The cabinet, which made an unsuccessful attempt to sell the airlines in 2009, will make the final decision on the sale in the second half of April.
Scientist from the Prague Psychiatric Center have discovered that toxoplasmosis triggers the development of schizophrenia in people who have a genetic predisposition to the mental disorder. Toxoplasmosis, which causes changes in the grey matter of the brain leading to schizophrenia, is a parasitic disease most often transmitted by cats. Up to one third of the world's population is estimated to carry the parasite, which normally causes no symptoms in healthy humans. The Prague center’s professor Jiří Horáček will present the full findings of the study to the public on March 11, the European Day of the Brain. The idea of the link between toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia was first pioneered by Jaroslav Flegl, a professor at Prague’s Faculty of Science.
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