Over 200 fire beacons are taking party in the 5th edition of “Celtic Telegraph”, sending light signals across the Czech Republic. The event kicks off with the lighting of a beacon at Velká Javořina on the Czech-Slovak border; from there, the light signal will be handed over through several routes to other parts of the country as well as Slovakia. The event, held in homage to Celtic tribes which once inhabited Bohemia and Moravia, has however come under scrutiny by environmentalists and firefighters who warn no fire making in nature reserves will be tolerated.
Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček spent four days in Israel to learn about their system of medical marihuana cultivation and distribution, Czech TV reported on Saturday. After returning to Prague, Mr Němeček said the Israeli system was an inspiration for the Czech Republic which allows the use of cannabis in the treatment of some diseases. However, medical marihuana cannot be grown in the country, and so far only one Czech firm won a license to import it.
Thirteen people charged in a massive tax evasion case have been placed in police custody, the news website lidovky.cz reported. Among those detained is Iranian-born businessman with a Czech passport Shahram Abduallah Zadi. Another two people, charged in the case, have been released. They face charges of tax evasion worth 2.3 billion crowns they allegedly committed in oil trading; they could land up to 13 years in prison if found guilty.
A court in Prague on Saturday ordered the release of three people charged in a money laundering case linked to Prague public transport company. Another two men who face the same charges were released on Friday, including controversial businessman and lobbyist Ivo Rittig. The men were placed in police custody earlier this week as prosecution feared they could flee the country to avoid trial; however, the court decided in favour of those detained. Ivo Ritting and his associates allegedly siphoned money from the public transport company in Prague; if convicted, they would face up to eight years in jail.
The Prague-based KHL club Lev Praha lost 4:3 to Donbass Donetsk in the second game of their quarterfinal series, in the league’s longest came on record. The decision came in 127th minute when Donetsk’s Konev scored the winning goal. The series is tied 1-1; the next game will be played on Sunday in the Slovak capital Bratislava where Donetsk play their home games due to the crisis in Ukraine.
The United Arab Emirates has dropped visa requirements for Czech nationals. As of Saturday, the citizens of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and several other eastern European countries can travel to the Emirates without visas, saving around 2,000 crowns in fees. The move, announced earlier this month, comes in a reaction to the decision by the European Parliament to drop visa requirements for UAE citizens travelling to the EU’s Schengen zone. Around 50,000 Czechs travel to the UAE each year, according to the country’s travel agencies; some 20,000 of them travel through Dubai to other destinations.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka warned Ukraine authorities to prepare the foundations for the country’s continued integrity by reacting sensitively to the demands of ethnic minorities. Sobotka was speaking at the conclusion of a two-day summit of heads of government in Brussels. The Czech prime minister indicated recent attempts in Kiev to revoke the status of Russian as an official language in some provinces as an example of the problem. Separately, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said that an official delegation from Prague is preparing to leave for talks with the long term Czech population resident in Ukraine. Around 40 families in the Volyn region have asked for help to be repatriated to the Czech Republic.
Czech armed forces are expected to take part in manoeuvers in Poland with other NATO armed forces from Central Europe, the Baltic States, and the United States, Polish radio said Friday citing a spokesman from the US embassy in Warsaw. Czech general staff said they were not aware of such an exercise being prepared. NATO aircraft have previously been dispatched to Poland and areas bordering Ukraine as a result of the Russian intervention in Crimea. Russian armed forced took part in exercises near the Polish and Ukraine frontier prior to the use of armed forced to take a grip on the previously autonomous region of |Ukraine.
Police on Friday detained notorious political wheeler and dealer Ivo Rittig. The move followed proceedings initiated by Supreme State Attorney Lenka Bradáčová that lobbyist Rittig and four others be detained in custody because of the risk that they would leave the country. A Prague court decided on Thursday to give passports back to the five accused. Rittig faces charges of money laundering in a case centred on dubious payments by Prague city’s transport company for printing tickets to a firm registered in the Virgin Islands, a notorious and secretive tax haven. A court later refused the application for the five to be detained in custody.
Personalities from the Czech filmmaking world paid a last tribute to director Věra Chytilová on Friday. The funeral of the famous Czech new wave filmmaker was held at Prague’s Strašnice crematorium. Those present included long time Karlovy Vary Film Festival organizer Eva Zaoralová and documentary film maker Olga Sommerová. Chytilová died at the age of 85 on March 12. A native of Ostrava, Chytilová became a leading figure of the new wave of Czech cinema of the 1960s with films such as Daises and Fruit of Paradise; her best-known later movies include Prefab Story, Calamity, The Jester and the Queen, and others.