The leading Czech downhill skier Šárka Strachová (née Záhrobská) says she is hoping to take a medal at what will be her last Winter Olympics in Sochi. Before flying to Russia on Tuesday, the 28-year-old, who will carry the Czech flag at Friday’s opening ceremony, said she would train in Austria for a week between her two events, the super combined competition and the slalom, as no slopes would be available in Sochi for practicing. Strachová took bronze in the slalom in Vancouver four years ago.
Strong winds and icy roads have been causing traffic problems in parts of the Czech Republic. In some places, roads were blocked by fallen branches on Tuesday, while snow covered some roads, mainly in the west, east and north-east of the country. Police warned drivers to exercise extra caution while meteorologists said weather conditions were not likely to improve much during the day.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has rejected calls to cancel an invitation
for Ukrainian head of state, Vitkor Yanukovich, to visit the Czech
Republic. Several hundred people including director Jiří Menzel and
singer Jaroslav Hutka, have signed an appeal to Mr Zeman, asking him to
cancel the visit planned for April. They would also like the Czech
president to demand Ukraine return to democracy and rule of law. However,
Mr Zeman’s spokesman said the Czech president had no plants to cancel the
invitation, made during his visit to Kiev last October. He also said Mr
Zeman prefers a dialogue will all sides.
President Zeman’s approval rating up
President Miloš Zeman’s approval rating reached 42 percent in January, according to a poll by the CVVM agency released on Monday. That is 1 percent more than in the previous month but much less than last April when 61 percent of those polled said they trusted the president. The most trusted institutions are mayors and local councils, with an approval rating of 61 percent. Some 10 percent of people surveyed said in January they were satisfied with the political situation, which was 7 percent more than in the same period last year.
Czech doctors last year registered 235 new HIV cases in the country, the highest number on record, the National Institute of Public Health said on Monday. In 2013, 211 men and 24 women contracted the infection which was 23 more than the previous year. Nine people died of AIDS while another six people with HIV died of other cause, the doctors said. Health authorities say diminishing concern about contracting the infection is one of the factors behind the rising numbers of cases.
The new centre-left Czech government on Monday scrapped several bills put forth by the previous interim cabinet. The draft legislation that has been withdrawn includes a civil service bill, a bill on army reserve as well as legislation re-introducing fees for hospital stays, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters. Mr Sobotka said that instead of the scrapped civil service legislation, Parliament will debate a Social Democrat bill that was approved by MPs in a first round of debate last month. The Sobotka government, appointed to office by President Zeman last week, is expected to seek confidence in the lower house on February 18th.
The Czech economy is showing signs of substantial recovery, the news website ihned.cz reported on Monday. The country’s purchasing managers’ index, based on the volume of new industrial orders, rose by 1.8 points to 55.9 points in January, the highest it has been since May 2011, according to the consultancy Markit Economics. The Czech employment rate, meanwhile, exceeded 68 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, which is the highest level since 1998 says the Czech Statistics Office; the unemployment rate, calculated according to methods by the International Labour Organization, dropped annually by 0.4 percent to 6.8 percent in the same period. Analysts believe the latest figures show a positive outlook for the Czech economy in 2014.
In related news, over 22.800 new firms were founded in the Czech Republic last year, the highest number in the last three years, according to a study by the Bisnode consultancy released on Monday. The total number of companies increased by 7 percent and exceeded 391,000. Entrepreneurs invested over 25 billion crowns in new companies, 57 percent of which went to share-holder firms. The renewed interest in forming new firms was a sign the Czech economy was recovering, the consultancy firm said.
The inaugural anti-corruption report released by the European Commission on Monday highlights the Czech Republic’s problems with public procurement and abuse of public funds. Some 95 percent of people consider corruption a widespread phenomenon in the Czech Republic, the report says quoting a survey by the EU’s polling agency Eurobarometer. The report urges the Czech Republic to adopt civil service legislation and to overhaul rules for the financing of political parties. The EU-wide report, says that corruption levels in the bloc are “breathtaking”, costing the European economy at least 120 billion euro each year.
The Czech Foreign Ministry and NGOs have distributed over 160 million crowns in aid to Syria since the crisis began, the ČTK news agency reported on Monday citing the country’s leading humanitarian organization People in Need. According to People in Need close to 40 percent of the NGO’s aid budget is now going to Syria where the organization operates two offices with the help of 50 local volunteers. The NGO supports 25 schools in the country and distributed daily bread portions to 20,000 people. It also brings aid to refugee camps in surrounding countries such as Turkey.
The Czech-born, Lebanon-based fashion designer Blanka Matragi will design new uniforms for Czech Airlines and other parts of the Czech Aeroholding, a spokeswoman for the group said on Monday. The state-own firm chose Matragi, who settled in Lebanon in the 1970s, from among 14 designers. The designer will have to respect the firm’s colour scheme dominated by dark blue. Czech Airlines also want the new uniforms to be more conservative than the currently used attires. Czech Airlines flight attendants and other employees should get new uniforms in 2015.