The government has approved a proposal to make 16 January a legislatively recognized day commemorating Jan Palach. A student at Charles University, Jan Palach lit himself on fire in 1969 in protest of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led troops. Palach died of his injuries on 19 January. He became one of the best known symbols of protest against the invasion and the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Lawmakers decided not to make Jan Palach Day an official public holiday for financial reasons. Currently 12 public holidays are observed in the Czech Republic.
Hockey club Třinec has a chance to reach second spot in the Extraliga if players can clinch a win on Thursday against league leaders Plzeň on Thursday evening. Třinec is currently in third place behind Zlín and 11 points behind the leaders. To earn three points, however, the club will have to beat Plzeň on home ice.
In related news, Czech citizens living abroad will be able to begin voting in the presidential election a day before their compatriots at home. Around 7,200 Czechs have registered to vote outside of the Czech Republic, which they will be able to do at 102 embassies and consulates around the world. The first ballots in this historic election will be cast in Brazil and on the west coast of the US starting at 2pm local time. Voting abroad should finish at the same time as in the Czech Republic, on Saturday at 2pm Central European time.
Some 150 firefighters from 28 brigades have been fighting a massive fire since early Wednesday morning in the east Moravian city of Zlín. The fire started at around 1 am at a warehouse with electrical appliances belonging to HP Tronic Zlín, the owner ETA and Euronics. Three employees of the company were at the scene and suffered from slight smoke inhalation. No one else is reported injured. The surrounding area, including primary schools were evacuated to locations further away, as a preventive measure. Smoke particles in the air are under the permitted limit.
Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has announced that the accused in 18 cases that are being dealt with by state attorneys are eligible for the presidential amnesty. In total, Mr Zeman said, somewhere between 100 and 150 criminal suites may be suspended due to the amnesty granted by President Klaus on New Year ’s Day.
In an effort to support the use of electric cars, the Czech state-owned
energy producer ČEZ has announced it will offer personal charging
and special electricity prices for electric car owners. The company’s
representatives believe that this year will be a groundbreaking year for
electric vehicles. Currently, ČEZ allows customers to charge their
vehicles at its 32 charging station around the country for a flat monthly
fee of 150 crowns.
Government wants to rework proposal on parties finances
The government has suspended deliberations on the proposal that would introduce an independent office that would oversee political parties’ finances. Parties have been unable to agree for a longer time whether it is preferable to introduce a new body in a time of budget cuts. Interior Minister Jan Kubice has been charged with reworking the proposal in a way that would introduce stricter measures for managing parties’ finances and would allow the public to have easier access to financing information.
The highest unemployment in the country at the end of last year was in the Ústí nad Labem region, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. The employment rate in this northern Bohemian region went up by 0.6% from November to reach 14% in December. Contributing factors to the worsening situation on the job market are cutbacks carried out by some of the major employers in the region.
In an interview for the news server iDnes on Wednesday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas defended the presidential amnesty and his role in the affair. Mr Nečas pointed out that it is a constitutional convention for the prime minister to sign a presidential amnesty in order to confirm its legality and the government’s responsibility to carry it out. But the initiative of the amnesty is the exclusive right of the president, the premier noted. He claims he could not refuse to sign the amnesty along with the president since it was within legal norms. Mr Nečas also denied rumors that his signature was a “trade” for President Klaus’ signing of the government tax reform package in December. The prime minister is set to offer the president an opportunity to address the issue of the amnesty in front of the parliament.
The Czech ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr made a surprise final appearance for his hometown club Kladno on Tuesday night before heading back to the US following the ending of the NHL lockout. Jágr, who is 40, had previously said his NHL club Dallas had instructed him not to play again for Kladno. However, in the end he took to the ice to the delight of the home fans and provided two assists to help the team overcome Litvínov 3:2. His presence helped turn Kladno into one of the biggest draws in the Czech Extraliga.
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