The driver of a French bus which crashed on a motorway west of Prague on April 8 has died bringing the death toll in the accident to two. A 15-year-old schoolgirl died in the crash and 23 other school children were injured. The bus was headed for Prague when it careened off the motorway near Rokycany, some 80 km west of the Czech capital, shortly after 5am. The police were investigating the accident as a possible case of negligence resulting in death. The case is now likely to be closed.
In related news, former controversial presidential aide Ladislav Jakl was awarded the Zelená perla (Green Pearl, recognising most outlandish statement) for an opinion piece in which he slammed cycling as an alternative means of transport. In the piece last year he mocked biking as a clean and healthy means of travel, suggesting that cycling should be “banned”.
Two-time ice hockey world championship gold medal winner Tomáš Vokoun, a goalie who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins, has told the news website idnes he will no longer play for the national squad. Vokoun led the Czech team to an unexpected victory against Russia in the final in Germany in 2010. Before that, he won his first gold in Austria in 2005. Vokoun told idnes that the Czech Republic had plenty of talented up-and-coming goalies and that it would be unfair of him to take a place on the roster. Vokoun did not play in the championship last year due to injury and missed the year before that when he sought a new contract in the NHL.
Workers renovating a house in Dolní Vilémovice (where Jan Kubiš – a British-trained paratrooper during World War II was born) recovered several unique items including letters, part of a military uniform, and photographs, Prague’s Institute of Military History revealed. Jan Kubiš and fellow soldier Jozef Gabčík pulled off a daring attack against acting Reichsprotector and ‘Hangman of Bohemia’ Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. Heydrich died several days later of his wounds. Kubiš, Gabčík and another five paratroopers were later surrounded at the Church of St. Cyril and St. Methodious on Resslova Street and paid with their lives for the assassination. Kubiš was wounded and died in hospital; the others committed suicide to avoid capture. The items in Mr Kubiš’s home were found under a stair that had rotted through.
The European Union will take appropriate steps if the pre-election struggle in Bulgaria threatens the position of the Czech state-owned company ČEZ in the country, the head of the head the European Council Herman Van Rompuy pledged on Thursday during a meeting with Czech President Miloš Zeman. Hynek Kmoníček, the head of the presidential office’s foreign affairs dept. revealed the news a day after the two men met at Prague Castle. "We would like the EU to fulfil its role of the top supervisor on EU standards," Mr Kmoníček told the Czech news agency. ČEZ´s problems in Bulgaria, the CTK noted, began after Bulgarians´ mass protests against high energy bills. Demonstrators demanded the nationalisation of the distribution companies in the country that are owned besides ČEZ by another Czech firm, Energo-Pro and the Austrian EVN. The protests resulted in fall of Boiko Borisov´s right-wing government.
The Czech Senate on Thursday approved four new Constitutional Court judges, accepting all the nominations proposed by President Miloš Zeman. The new judges are Jaroslav Fenyk, Jan Filip, Vladimir Sládeček and Milada Tomková. There were three vacancies in the 15-member court to date and another seven seats are to be vacated by the end of the year. Ahead of the vote President Zeman urged the upper house to vote prudently saying the Constitutional Court was on the brink of collapse and must be stabilized. The head of state has promised to submit four more candidates in June.
The leader of the opposition Social Democrats Bohuslav Sobotka on Thursday unveiled the line-up of the shadow cabinet. His ministerial team is 14-strong, with a newly added youth and sports portfolio. Jan Mládek whose candidacy for shadow finance minister was shaken by a highly imprudent remark made at the last party conference, is on the team. Jiři Dienstbier whose position was weakened after he failed to secure a post in the party leadership is shadow justice minister. Lubomir Zaorálek is shadow foreign minister and Vladimir Špidla, a former EU commissioner for employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, is shadow environment minister.
Trade unions and employers on Thursday failed to agree on a planned minimum wage increase in 2014, leaving the decision in the hands of the government. While trade unions demanded a 600 crown raise, employers would not go higher than 400. Social Affairs Minister Ludmilla Mullerová said she would present both options to the cabinet for a final decision. The minimum wage is currently 8,000 crowns before tax and has not been raised since 2007.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has criticized Switzerland’s decision to
extend the validity of quotas for long-term residence permits granted to
citizens from eight EU countries including the Czech Republic. In a
statement issued on Thursday the Czech Foreign Ministry said the move was
discriminatory and called for the matter to be addressed on a European
level. The Swiss authorities announced the decision on Wednesday, bowing to
growing unease about immigration from poorer neighbours.
The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also said she regretted the Swiss action, adding that it was contrary to the 1999 treaty signed with Switzerland on the free movement of people since the quotas differentiate between countries. Under the terms of the treaty non-EU Switzerland may invoke a "safeguard clause" which allows temporary caps on work permits if the annual influx exceeds a certain number.
The equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas on Prague’s main square is once again chained off to protect it from vandals. The chain was removed eight years ago after members of the Balbin Poetic party, a pseudo-party which regularly meets in a pub to criticize the shortcomings of Czech society and politicians, demanded its removal arguing that having a chain around the nation's patron saint did not bode well for the future and that to many people the chain symbolized the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops. Since its removal the statue has been an easy target for vandals and there have been incidents of drunks trying to climb it.
Over 1,000 skeletons discovered during renovation of Kutná Hora “bone church”
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Why are Russian and Chinese spying activities in Czech Republic so intense and how exactly do they do it?
Prague’s historical Koh-i-noor factory to be converted into residential area
The history of the “German Czechs”