The Czech government welcomes the deal reached on Friday between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the country’s opposition leaders, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said. After days of violent clashes which left more than 70 people dead, the deal paves the ways for forming a new government and an early general election. Mr Sobotka told reporters on Friday that in case of need, the Czech Republic was ready to accept hundreds of refugees from Ukraine and help provide medical care for those injured during the conflict. However, Czech authorities have not registered any increase in the number of people seeking asylum in the country.
Charles University has offered roughly 20 students from Ukraine the chance to complete their studies in Prague, the institution said on Friday. The offer only applies to students who face direct persecution in their country and who could receive the university’s Václav Havel Fellowship, which is for students affected by persecution in totalitarian and authoritative countries. Ukrainian students could start attending courses in Prague immediately, the university said. A similar offer came on Thursday from Palacký University in Olomouc.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek will discuss the situation in Ukraine with ministers from Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia at a Visegrad Four meeting in Budapest on Monday. The meeting will also be attended by representatives of Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece. One issue likely to be raised is whether visa restrictions on Ukrainians can be relaxed if the situation in their country deteriorates even further. The Czech minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said on Wednesday that such a step could be taken.
Former Czech president Václav Klaus has warned against the break-up of Ukraine. In a statement released on his institute’s website on Friday, Mr Klaus said the West irresponsibly fuelled an illusion of Ukrainian radicals that the country had a choice between Russia and the EU. That choice, according to the former Czech president, will inevitably lead to the collapse of the country, which seems to have already begun. Mr Klaus also suggested that no new election can solve the ongoing crisis.
The Social Democrats and ANO each have 21.4 percent voter support, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency in February. The survey indicates that the Communist Party would come in third, with 16.8 percent, followed by the TOP 09, Christian Democratic and Civic Democratic parties. The Social Democrats won October’s general election with 20.5 percent of the vote; ANO came a close second with won 18.5 percent.
Czech Railways’ new board of directors on Friday elected Daniel Kurucz new CEO of the state-owned firm. Mr Kurucz, who has served as Czech Railways’ deputy director for economics, was elected at the board’s first meeting. The new CEO told reporters he was planning to reduce the number of employees and cut the firm’s expenditures by 200 million crowns. In 2012, Czech Railways posted a loss of 1.6 billion crowns. Daniel Kurucz joined Czech Railways last year after heading a chemical firm, part of Agrofert Group owned by ANO leader and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš. The party also holds the Transport Ministry.
The Czech Health Ministry will extend public insurance coverage of health spa stays from three to four weeks, Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček told reporters on Friday. The coverage was cut to three weeks in 2012 as part of the previous government’s austerity drive; however, the decision put Czech spas under a severe financial strain. Minister Němeček said the new rules should be introduced in April.
The police have found firearms and explosives in a building in Zlín owned by the father of Radek Březina, the alleged head of a Czech bootleg liquor mafia, a prosecutor said on Friday. The police revealed no details of what was discovered but said the weapons will be analysed to see if they had been used in committing crimes. Mr. Březina along with his brother Tomáš and another man were charged last year with tax evasion worth 500 million crowns. The investigators believe he controlled much of the country’s black market in alcohol.
Developers expect the growth of Prague’s residential market to continue this year, according to an analysis by the CEEC Research agency. The offer of new residential real estate in the capital is expected to increase by 7.4 percent in 2014 while demand should grow by 3.6 percent, the head of the research agency said. However, the consultancy KPMG said the survey reflects the developers’ optimistic expectations; while not unrealistic, the analysis reflects a situation when a combination of low interest rates and an expected general economic recovery create favourable conditions for residential development.
The Czech Ice Hockey Association will discuss the future of national team coach Alois Hadamczik at its session next Wednesday, the association’s head, Petr Král, told the news agency ČTK on Friday. The team’s failure to qualify for the semi-finals of Olympic tournament in Sochi has provoked calls from fans and the media for Mr Hadamczik to go. The coach’s future with the national team cannot be decided purely on the basis of public pressure, said the head of the association.