Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec said that civil war had started in
Ukraine with the government likely to use the army to win back control of
the country. Chovanec said before the regular weekly Cabinet meeting that
the Czech Republic intends for now to maintain the visa obligation for
Ukrainians visiting the country. If the situation in Ukraine worsened, the
need for visas would be examined again on humanitarian grounds so that
refugees could be taken in, the minister said.
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said that those responsible for the violence in Ukraine should not be allowed entry into the European Union. A list of barred individuals should be drawn up in Brussels with their accounts frozen in European banks as well, he said. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the sanctions could hit the Ukrainian president.
Police in the Moravia-Silesia Region have charged a man with the murder of his wife and eight-year-old daughter at the Egyptian holiday resort of Hurghada last July. Petr Kramný, who is 36, is accused of poisoning the two and had been held on suspicion by police in Egypt until the end of October. He himself reported the deaths, saying that all three had come down with intestinal and stomach problems. The state attorney has requested that Mr. Kramný be remanded in custody.
The first Bitcoin ATM in the Czech Republic has been launched in Prague’s Holešovice district, allowing users with accounts access to the virtual currency, financial website iHned reports. Other Bitcoin ATMs already exist, for example, in the Slovak capital Bratislava, and in Vancouver, Canada. In the Czech Republic the virtual currency is accepted by around 40 companies. While it is possible to conduct transactions at the Prague facility, there is no option, for example, to withdraw a Bitcoin equivalent in hard currency ie. Czech crowns, nor is such a possibility in the works, iHned writes.
Centre-right opposition party TOP 09 has announced Luděk Niedermayer will head its candidates’ list in elections to the European Parliament scheduled for May. The former vice governor of the country’s central bank (ČNB), the party is hoping, will boost its chances at the polls. TOP 09, led by former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, is aiming for a strong result and to try and recover voters lost in the domestic election last year. On Wednesday, Mr Schwarzenberg had only praise for Mr Niedermayer, suggesting his talent as an economist bested those of many in Czech politics. Mr Niedermayer was vice governor of the Czech National Bank from 2000 to 2008.
President Miloš Zeman has signalled that he will give a speech on bureaucratic red tape in the European Union at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in a week’s time. The head of state made the remarks in a visit to the largest dairy products manufacturer in the country, Madeta. Madeta employees presented Zeman with a last example of their butter spread. The long standing description has now been banned because the spread did not meet European criteria for the fat content in the final product. Zeman added that there are many other example where European institutions intervened where they were not needed but added that the Czech Republic is likely to gain more funding from the EU than it puts in until at least 2020.
The Czech Republic will no longer seek to use the opt out from EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights that was won by former president Václav Klaus in 2009, the government decided on Wednesday. The opt out was no longer relevant and its withdrawal would help improve Prague’s position with regard to other EU international agreements, prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said. Klaus won the exemption as a condition for his signing the EU reforming Lisbon Treaty.
The Czech men's hockey team was soundly defeated on Wednesday by a US squad that has continued to shine at the Winter Olympics. A day after the Czechs knocked Slovakia from the tournament, they appeared lackluster and were out-skated and outplayed by their American opponents. Goalie Ondřej Pavelec was chased from the net in the second period when the US scored their fourth goal to make it 4-1. The Czech starting goalie was replaced by Salak. The game finished 5-2. The US team faces Canada in the semi-final.
The Czech Republic won a silver medal in the 6 kilometer women’s and 7.5 kolometer men’s mixed biathlon relay. The team came in around 33 seconds after the gold medal winning Norwegians and around 25 seconds ahead of the bronze winning Italians. The Czech team was composed of Ondřej Moravec, Jaroslav Soukup. Gabriela Soukalová, and Veronika Vítková. Wednesday’s medal haul makes the Sochi Olympics the most successful ever for the Czech Republic.
Speed skater Martina Sáblíková won a gold medal in her favourite 5000 meters on Wednesday to repeat her victory in the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Sáblíková beat Dutch woman Ireen Wüst with a time of 6 minutes 51, almost three seconds faster than her main rival. The 26 year old Czech had already won a silver medal in the 3000 meters events at Sochi. The latest medal brings her all time Olympics gold tally to three, with one silver and one bronze.
A debate is underway in the Chamber of Deputies ahead of a vote of confidence in the recently appointed centre-left government headed by Bohuslav Sobotka. His Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats have 111 votes between them in the 200-seat lower house and the vote is seen as a formality. Before the session began, Mr. Sobotka told journalists that he hoped his government would deliver stability to the Czech Republic and serve out its four-year term.