The Czech Republic’s main film prizes, the Czech Lions, are due to be presented at a ceremony at Prague’s Rudolfinum on Saturday night. It is the first time the awards, now solely organised by the Czech Film and Television Academy, are being handed out at that venue. The films with the most nominations are Burning Bush, Agnieszka Holland’s depiction of the aftermath of the self-immolation of Jan Palach, with 14, and Zdeněk Tyc’s drama Like Never Before, with 12.
There has been a relatively low incidence of influenza in the Czech Republic this winter, the country’s chief hygiene officer, Vladimír Valenta, told the Czech News Agency. While 100 people had died of the flu by this time last year, there has been only one such death to date this winter. The country was hit by a major flu epidemic last year and if it experiences one this year it is unlikely to be so serious, Mr. Valenta said. The official pointed out that epidemics came in cycles and did not necessarily occur annually.
There will be 11 kiosks selling fast food, flowers and newspapers on Prague’s Wenceslas Square from next year, a city councilor told the Czech News Agency. There are currently seven on the city’s main thoroughfare, down from 23 in 2012, when Prague abrogated contracts with several stall holders; many are now standing empty. The issue of kiosks on Wenceslas Square has been the subject of some controversy, with objections from preservations leading to the rejection of new designs that were due to go up last year.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Czech women’s biathlon team came in fourth in 4x6 km relay race at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Friday. The Czechs performed poorly at the shooting range, with each of the athletes missing at least two shots. However, they skied well and eventually finished 46 seconds behind Norway in third place in their best result in Olympic history.
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.
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