Czech President Miloš Zeman on Thursday began a two-day visit to Slovakia, his first foreign trip since his inauguration in March. Slovakia is traditionally the first destination for Czech officials. On Thursday, President Zeman met the Slovak head of state, Ivan Gašparovič; the officials discussed the need for better transport connections between the two countries as well as a plan for the joint defence of the Czech and Slovak air space. Mr Zeman also met Slovakia’s prime minister, Robert Fico, later on Thursday.
The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption, or GRECO, has criticized the Czech Republic over the financing of political parties. In its compliance report on the Czech Republic released on Thursday, the anti-corruption agency said Czech authorities ignored its recommendations issued two years ago, and failed to establish an independent body to monitor parties’ financing and campaigns. GRECO has therefore asked the authorities to file a report on the progress in implementing these recommendations by the end of September.
The Czech and German health ministers, Leoš Heger and Daniel Bahr, on Thursday signed an agreement on the cooperation of their countries’ emergency medical services. The agreement would allow the services to provide acute care to patients on the other side of the Czech-German border who would be reached later by their country’s ambulance. The agreement could come into effect by the end of the year.
The opposition Social Democrats would win 68 seats in the 200-seat Czech lower house, according to the latest poll by the ppm factum agency. The coalition TOP 09 group would gain 36 seats, followed by the Communists with 34 seats. The senior coalition Civic Democrats would win 33 seats. The poll also suggests that the Zemanites, a group formed around now President Miloš Zeman, would get 15 seats and the Christian Democrats would make a comeback with 14 seats.
The organized crime unit of the Czech police on Thursday charged five men with the murder of a 72-year-old businessman. The men are suspected of having lured the victim to Nice, France, under the pretext of a real estate deal, forced him to hand them access codes to his bank accounts, and shot him dead in northern Italy. Before their arrest, the men were looking for another victim, the head of the police unit said. The suspects, all repeated offenders, face life sentences.
Prosecutors in the northern city of Děčín on Thursday charged 15 women with promoting neo-Nazism, a spokesman for the prosecution said. The charges are linked to the women’s activities in Resistance Women Unity, a neo-Nazi group. Prosecutors say the women, aged between 22 and 33, organized and promoted events held by the neo-Nazi group in Czech towns between 2007 and 2009. If convicted, they face up to eight years in jail.
A new service was launched in Prague on Thursday to improve deliveries of parcels and goods purchased on-line. The project, entitled “The Magic Cupboard”, allows people to pick up their parcels in deposit boxes located in 15 shopping malls in Prague. The service should be faster and cheaper than the delivery provided by Czech Post, according to the authors who said that around 100 pick-up locations would be available around the country by the end of the year.
Czech hockey club Plzeň defeated Slavia Prague 4:2 in game 6 of the playoffs’ semifinal series on Wednesday night to reach the final for the first time in 21 years. Playing on home ice, Plzeň soon went ahead but Slavia equalized before the end of the first period. The tie continued in the second period when both team scored a goal but in the final 20 minutes, Plzeň prevailed and scored twice to win the match and the best-of-seven series. Plzeň will face either Zlín or Třinec in the final.
In the NHL, Czech forward Martin Erat has been traded from the Nashville Predators to the Washington Capitals. The 31-year-old Erat, spent 11 seasons in Nashville and has never played for another NHL club. He signed a seven-year contract with the club five years ago but on Wednesday, he said it was time for a change, and was happy to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
The unusually long winter could finally end next with when a spell of warmer weather is expected, Czech meteorologists said. The end of March and beginning of April has been extremely cold, with record-low temperatures registered across the country. But next week could see daytime temperatures reach 9 degrees Celsius and even 15 degrees towards the end of the week, according to a forecast by the Czech Hydrometeorological institute.