Two Czechs are in the running for the title of European Athlete of the Year. Vítězslav Veselý, who recently became world champion in the men’s javelin, and Zuzana Hejnová, who holds the same title in the women’s 400m hurdles, are among 12 names to appear on a shortlist released on Tuesday by the European Athletics Association. Fans will be able to vote for the winner on its Facebook page from Saturday.
The Czech striker Libor Kozák has joined the English Premier League club Aston Villa from Italy’s Lazio. Kozák, who is 24, was the highest scorer in the Europa League last season with 10 goals. The transfer fee in the four-year deal is believed to have reached six or seven million pounds. The 1.92-metre tall forward has appeared four times for the Czech national team, finding the net once.
Ukrainian porn-star Anastazia Hagen has won her fight for asylum in the Czech Republic. A mother of three boys, Hagen says she fears returning to her homeland where she could be persecuted for acting in porn-movies and might even lose custody of her children. She was previously refused asylum several times, and even had an appeal turned down by a court. On Monday the Czech Interior Ministry unexpectedly made a U-turn on the issue and granted Hagen permanent residence in the country.
The European Commission has launched proceedings before court action against the Czech Republic over Visapoint, the Foreign Ministry´s system for foreigners´ registration. The move comes following a complaint from Czech Ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský who alerted the EC to problems with the system’s operation and claimed that there were no legal grounds for making such a system compulsory to applicants for long-term residence. The EC is expecting a response from the Czech authorities within ten weeks. After that it will decide whether or not to launch proceedings over breach of EU law.
A draft of the state budget for 2014 recons with a deficit of 110 billion crowns, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Monday. The budget cuts funding for the transport and education portfolios while increases expenditures for the ministries of agriculture and industry. The deficit is 5 billion higher than that planned by the previous centre-right government of Petr Nečas; however, the expected deficit should remain under the target of 3 percent of GDP. The government is to send the draft budget to the lower house by the end of September; however, MPs will only be able to debate it two months later, after the early general election.
Civic Democrat deputy chairwoman Miroslava Němcová has said she wants to head the party’s Prague ballot in the upcoming general elections. The ballot is to be finalized by the party’s Prague leadership on Tuesday night. Ms. Nemcova would thus run against TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg, the Social Democrat’s choice for Prague leader former TU head Jaroslav Zavadil and Green Party leader Ondřej Liška.
The Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association has rejected accusations of data manipulation made by the Energy Regulatory Office. The ERO claimed that the association of solar power producers had doctored energy production figures in order to get more money from the state. The office said that the production hours stated far exceeded the amount of sunlight the Czech Republic gets annually, which are 1,000 hours of sunlight on average, and were closer to the climatic conditions of California. The Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association on Monday sharply denied the allegations, saying the average amount of sunlight in this part of the world was between 1,200 and 1,800 hours a year and moreover stressed that it was possible to produce solar energy in overcast conditions as well.
The authorities have begun handing out environmental subsidies for eco-friendly pellet stoves that will reduce pollution in areas where coal burning is the main form of heating. A total of 40 million crowns is being distributed and interest among the public is huge. In central Bohemia dozens of people queued throughout the night to make sure they receive the subsidy. When the region’s Prague office on Monday opened 300 people were waiting in line to stake a claim.
Czech TV management is reported to have fired the head of the station’s New Media department Pavlína Kvapilová. Kvapilová, who has held the post since the section was established in October of 2011, recently stood up for colleague Daniela Drtinová who was abruptly taken off a high-profile Czech TV currents affairs programme. There has been speculation that Drtinová was replaced under political pressure due to her tough interviewing style. Kvapilová has refused to comment on the development.
The new school year began in the Czech Republic on Monday for 1.2 million pupils of elementary and secondary schools as well as conservatories. Some 112,000 first-graders started school this year, which is 7,000 more than last September. Secondary schools, meanwhile, have 19,000 fewer students than last year. One of the changes introduced to school curricula is that pupils will have to take a second foreign language starting in the 8th grade of elementary schools.
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