Pope Francis on Friday received a delegation of fifteen Czech bishops led by Cardinal Dominik Duka. It was their first opportunity to meet with the Pontiff in person. The Holy Father spoke to them about the role of the Catholic Church and urged them to use the material assets they would acquire in the church restitution process prudently, transparently a so as to further the Catholic Church’s spiritual mission. Later on Friday the bishops will also celebrate mass for Czech pilgrims at St. Clement’s Basilica to commemorate the 1145th anniversary of the death of St. Cyril, whose relics are preserved in the church.
Human rights activist Anna Šabatová was elected to the post of Ombudsman in a secret vote of the lower house on Friday. Šabatová who for six years served as deputy to the country’s first Ombudsman Otakar Motejl was the Senate’s nominee for the post. Her only rival for the post Stanislav Křecek was nominated by President Zeman. Anna Šabatová will replace Pavel Varvařovský who resigned in December for family reasons.
A Prague court has banned businessman Ivo Rittig and three others accused of money laundering from leaving the Czech Republic and they had to hand over their passports to the authorities, the ctk news agency reported on Friday. The state attorney did not ask for them to be taken into custody. High State Attorney Lenka Bradacova said the police has questioned a number of witnesses long into the night on Thursday in order to prevent “possible influencing of witnesses” once Rittig and the others were released.
The lower house on Friday approved an amendment to the health law which will allow Czech patients to undergo medical treatment in other countries of the European Union. Insurance companies will cover the equivalent of what the treatment would cost in the Czech Republic. People will not have to give their insurance company advance notification that they will be treated abroad. The amendment will now go to the Senate for debate.
President Miloš Zeman will appoint a new batch of professors, despite having expressed the desire to relinquish that prerogative and leave the task of appointing new professors to the education minister or speaker of the Senate, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told the ctk news agency. The lower house on Thursday rejected an amendment to the law which was drawn up in line with the president’s request. The matter became an issue shortly after the president’s inauguration when he refused to confer the title of professor upon literary historian Martin C. Putna citing the fact that Mr. Putna had carried a provocative sign in a Gay Pride parade. The number of professors-in-waiting has now grown to 85 and the president has promised to confer the title upon them by the end of March.
A proposed bill on cyber security was approved by the lower house in its first reading on Friday. The bill sets a framework for cooperation between the private sector and public administration in the prevention of attacks on information and communication technology. The proposed legislation drafted by the National Security Office aims to secure a faster and more effective response to cyber threats at all levels. Providers of electronic communication and some administrators of information infrastructure are obliged to report any security incident in their networks and systems to the National Security Office without delay.
The Road and Motorway Directorate says it has saved 280 million crowns on road maintenance so far thanks to the mild winter. For instance the amount of technical salt used on roads dropped from 16,000 tons last year to 5,700 tons this winter. The money saved is to be used for road repairs in the spring.
Forty-three people had to be evacuated from a ski lift in the Jesníky Mountains on Friday after it got stuck due to a technical problem. The evacuation process took just over an hour and no one was reported hurt. Due to the relatively warm weather for this time of year there were no cases of hypothermia. The technical problem is reported to have been fixed and the ski lift is back in operation.
Czech tennis player Petra Cetkovská defeated top seed Li Na of China 7-6 2-6 6-4 in the third round of an WTA tournament in Doha, and booked a spot in the quarter-finals. Cetkovská, who advanced to the tournament from qualification, was the first opponent this season to defeat Li Na, the winner of the season–opening Australian Open. In other results from Doha, Petra Kvitová beat Lucie Šafařová 7-6 5-7 6-2 in the third round.
The Czech Republic defeated Latvia 4-2 in the men's ice hockey tournament at the Sochi Games on Friday, restoring their hopes of earning top spot in their group ahead of the quarter-finals. Jaromír Jágr and Marek Židlický both scored for the second straight game and fellow NHL players Jakub Voráček and Martin Erat also contributed a goal apiece. Ondřěj Pavelec posted 18 saves to help the Czechs improve to 1-1 in Group C play. Both teams conclude Group C play on Saturday with the Czechs facing Switzerland and Latvia playing Sweden.