Christian Democrat Jan Bartošek was elected deputy chairman of the lower house of Parliament on Thursday. Mr Bartošek, who faced no contestant for the post, replaces party leader Pavel Bělobrádek who was recently appointed deputy prime minister and stepped down as lower house deputy chairman. Jan Bartošek joins lower house deputy chairs Jaroslava Jermanová of the ANO party, Communist chair Vojtěch Filip and Petr Gazdík of the TOP 09 party. Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies is Social Democrat Jan Hamáček.
The police last year apprehended 4315 illegal immigrants in the Czech Republic, which was 550 more than in the previous year, the head of the Czech Foreigner Police told reporters on Thursday. The three top source countries of illegal immigration are Ukraine, Russia and Vietnam; the police also found citizens of Libya, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Slovakia staying in the Czech Republic without legal permits. The number of illegal crossings of the Schengen border at Czech airports increased by 60 to 179 cases last year. The police believe the Czech Republic is a destination mainly for Eastern European immigrants while migrants from elsewhere tend to transit to other countries.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has arrived in Sochi on Thursday, a day before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Mr Zeman is scheduled to have dinner with members of the Czech Olympic team on Thursday night. On Friday, the Czech head of state will take part in a reception held by Russian President Vladimir Putin before attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Mr Zeman will meet with several foreign officials during his visit including the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, the Czech president’s office said. On Saturday, Miloš Zeman will inaugurate the Czech Olympic House while on Sunday, he would like to attend a 1,500 speed skating event to root for the Czech medal hopeful, Martina Sablíková. The president is accompanied by head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka, and other officials, on his trip to Sochi.
With an average 1.136 million readers a day, the tabloid Blesk remained the most-read Czech daily newspaper last year, according to a survey by the Czech Publishers’ Association and the STEM/MARK and Median agencies. Mladá fronta Dnes came second with 787,000 daily readers, followed by Deník whose regional editions were on average read by 774,000 people each day. The survey also found that 74 percent of people aged between 12 and 79 read at least one daily newspaper over a two-week period.
The Orff Brothers were awarded the Apollo music award for the best album of 2013 at an awards ceremony in Prague on Wednesday night. Their album Šero landed the award, which is perhaps analogous to the Mercury Prize in the UK, voted on by a panel of music critics and is this year being presented for the third time. Among other contenders were Dan Bárta & Illustratosphere, Never Sol and Prago Union.
Czech ornithologists on Thursday named the black and white stork species
Bird of the Year 2014. The Czech Society for Ornithology said the choice
was partly motivated by the fact that a Europe-wide census of the white
stork is to be held later this year along with a national census of the
black stork; experts hope the decision to name the stork Bird of the Year
will increase public participation in the project.
There are around 244,000 couples of the white stork living in Europe according to the latest estimates. However, their population faces threats in the form of high voltage power lines as well as climate change.
The Chamber of Deputies voted in favour Wednesday of stripping former Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda of parliamentary immunity so he can face criminal proceedings. The vote in favour was 101 of the 175 lawmakers present with 55 against. The debate was concluded Tuesday without a vote being held. Now an MP for the Civic Democrats, Mr. Svoboda is accused along with other councillors of breach of competition rules and breach of trust in connection with Prague’s Opencard electronic card system. He describes the accusations as nonsensical and politically motivated but says he is in favour of his immunity being lifted.
The Austrian government has expressed its opposition to Czech plans to extend the operational life of the Dukovany nuclear reactor by up to 60 years, according to Wednesday’s edition of the business daily E15. Approval will be sought soon for the first of the four reactors at the site to be given a 10 year operational extension until 2025. Similar proceedings should follow for the remaining three reactors. Czech state owned electricity producer ČEZ would like to extend the life of the four units, completed in 1985 and the following years, to at least 2025 and if possible to 2045. Consultations with neighbouring countries have been held over the Czech Republic’s long term energy policy which should be finalized this year.
President Miloš Zeman named former caretaker prime minister Jiří Rusnok a member of the board of the Czech National Bank on Wednesday. Zeman said that Rusnok had the economic and political background to help the Czech Republic decide when and under what conditions to adopt the single currency euro. Mr. Rusnok, an economist, was previously minister of finance and minister of industry and trade in Social Democrat dominated governments. His arrival is expected to dent the distinct euro sceptic composition of the Czech central bank as a result of appointments made by former president Václav Klaus. Rusnok is being tipped in some circles as a possible successor to the current governor of the Czech National Bank, Miroslav Singer, when he steps down in 2016.
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