Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected a call from three former ministers for the Czech Republic to impose sanctions on Russia until it withdraws its troops from Ukraine’s Crimea region. The demand was made by Martin Bursík, Michael Kocáb and Luboš Dobrovský, all of whom served in right-wing governments. Mr. Sobotka said the current Czech cabinet would not under any circumstances impose unilateral sanctions. However, he and his colleagues were prepared to back a joint EU position on the matter, he said. Mr. Sobotka added that the Czech Republic had significant links with the Russian market and blanket sanctions would threaten jobs.
Gale warnings have been issued for almost the entire Czech Republic on Sunday. Winds of up to 90km an hour are expected between 3 AM and 8 PM, with wind speeds of up to 108km an hour likely in mountainous areas, the Czech Hyrdo-Meteorological Institute said on Saturday. Motorists have been warned to exercise caution on the country’s roads.
Police in the Spanish city of Bilbao have arrested a 53-year-old Czech man who they say was carrying 670 grammes of cocaine in his luggage. A Spanish news site said the man, who had arrived this week from Sao Paulo in Brazil, had attempted to hide the drug in four shampoo bottles. Police said the high-quality cocaine was probably destined for sale in Madrid. Spain is among the countries with the highest number of Czech citizens in its prisons; at the end of 2010 there were 102.
A 14th century “bone church” by the Central Bohemian town of Kutná Hora is due to undergo extensive renovation, according to an official from the local parish of Sedlec. The first phase of the renovation, focusing on the roof of the medieval ossuary, will begin in July and last about a year and a half. In a later phase, its four pyramids formed of the bones of 40,000 people who died in the plague and the Hussite wars will be reinforced.
The Czech government has strongly condemned the recent wave of rocket attacks carried out by militant organizations in the Gaza Strip. The region has seen three days of escalated violence despite an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. A statement published by the Czech Foreign Ministry on Friday says the Czech Republic supports the ongoing peace negotiations in the Middle East and the diplomatic efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry. We are convinced that only direct negotiations can lead to a solution which would secure long-term peace and stability for both nations, the statement says.
An unknown protester has "renamed" several streets in Prague in reaction to the Russian invasion of Crimea, the CTK news agency reports. Street signs such as Ukraine, Crimea, Sevastopol, the Black Sea, or Estonia were plastered with red stickers bearing the inscription "Russian?" probably in order to indicate where Russia may focus its attention in the future. Several days ago someone similarly changed the name of a tram stop from "Crimea Street" to "Russia Street."
A bus carrying a large group of school children to a sports event crashed near the west Bohemian town of Plzen around midday on Friday. Ten of the children suffered light injuries, mostly bumps and bruises and were taken to hospital for a check-up. According to police sources the accident happened when the bus driver drove too close to the side of the road to give an oncoming truck more space and overturned into a ditch. A Breathalyzer test proved negative.
On a working visit to Germany, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on
Friday paid homage to 677 Czech Nazi resistence fighters who were executed
in the Plotzensee jailhouse. Laying a wreath at the Plotzensee Memorial
Centre the prime minister said it was important that the heroic deeds of
resistance fighters should not be forgotten. Almost 3,000 executions were
conducted in the Plotzensee jailhouse between 1933 and 1945.
The Czech prime minister is on a two-day working visit to Germany, his first since taking office. His talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top officials on Thursday focused on bilateral ties, European integration and the crisis in Ukraine. The Czech prime minister also visited the Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg; the German firm owns the Czech carmaker Škoda Auto.
The man charged with the murder of influential businessman and Social Democratic Party regional politician Roman Houska claims he was unaware of the victim’s identity. The killer, who reportedly fired four shots at Houska at the height of a violent quarrel, turned himself in on Thursday. He told the police he only learnt of the victims’ identity from media reports. The police say there is no question that the man is the culprit since in his testimony he revealed facts that could only have been known to the murderer.
The Interior Ministry reports a steep rise in the number of foreigners applying for Czech citizenship, according to Friday’s edition of the daily Lidové Noviny. The rise is being attributed to the change of legislation which now allows dual citizenship. In January of this year the number of applicants was four times higher than in the same period last year and the February figure was eight times higher –at 1226 applicants. Last year the ministry granted citizenship requests to 947 Ukrainians, 176 Poles, 176 Vietnamese and 142 Russians.