People in the Moravia-Silesia Region have been warned to avoid going outside unnecessarily because of poor air quality. The dust in the air in the eastern region was three or more times the legal limit on Monday morning. The worst affected spot is the Frýdek-Místek area, where a measuring station recorded 187 microgrammes of particles per cubic metre. The situation is also bad in Český Těšín, with 180 microgrammes per cubic metre registered. An industrial area of the country, Moravia-Silesia frequently suffers from poor air quality, particularly in the winter months.
The Czech NGO People in Need has produced a short video in English and Czech drawing attention to human rights abuses in Russia, ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Under the title Hidden Sports, it depicts the mistreatment of homosexuals and the press, which it presents as typical Russian “sports” that will not be on show in Sochi next month.
Much of the Czech Republic has been hit by snow, with road transport impacted in many parts of the country. Approximately 120 gritting trucks were out in force on Monday in the Central Bohemia region alone, while the police attributed 40 traffic accidents in Prague to the difficult conditions. Nevertheless, major roads around the Czech Republic were passable on Monday afternoon.
Some 400 Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic rallied in Prague on Sunday in support of anti-government protests in Ukraine. A procession which arrived in Old Town Square in the capital shouted slogans, carried photos of people beaten by the police in Kiev, and prayed. The rally criticized Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovich who they said was waging a war against his own people. An estimated 200,000 people from Ukraine live in the Czech Republic where they account for the largest ethnic minority.
The office of the Czech president has accused the news website idnes.cz of
putting President Miloš Zeman at risk by releasing the news of his
trip to Afghanistan. A spokesman for the president said the website
directly jeopardized the president’s security by reporting on the trip
Saturday morning, at a time when Mr Zeman was flown to a military base
outside Kabul. The website dismissed the accusations, arguing they only
released general information about the trip without giving details of the
Miloš Zeman arrived in Afghanistan on Friday to visit Czech troops stationed in the country and to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Mr Zeman is the first Czech head of state to visit Czech soldiers in the conflict-torn country.
The incoming interior minister, Milan Chovanec of the Social Democrats, on Sunday stepped down as governor of the Plzeň region. His successor will be chosen by the regional council which is to convene on Monday. Social Democrat leadership gave governors who were elected MPs in October to either step down or retain their positions but resign as deputies. The measure has been criticized by some prominent party officials, most notably by South Moravia governor and MP Michal Hašek.
The Green Party elected new leadership at its congress in Prague over the weekend. Delegates re-elected Ondřej Liška the party chairman; the 36 year-old Liška received 125 out of 198 votes on Saturday. On Sunday, the congress elected deputy party chairs including Martin Stropický, Pavla Brady, and Martin Ander. The party, which failed to win seats in the lower house in two last elections, wants to focus on the upcoming voting for European Parliament scheduled for May.
The movie Burning Bush by Polish director Agnieszka Holland won six Czech Film Critics awards at a ceremony in Prague on Saturday night. The movie, focusing on the aftermath of the 1969 self-immolation of Jan Palach, won the awards for best film, director, screenplay, cinematography, supporting actress and music. Jiří Schmitzer received the prize for best actor for his role in the film Like Never Before while Petra Špalková, who starred in the same film, won the award for best actress. The award for best documentary was handed out to the creators of Show!, a film depicting the birth of a girls’ pop band.
The quality of air in the polluted Ostrava region has slightly improved, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute said on Sunday. Emissions limits were exceeded at nearly all measuring stations in the area but meteorologists expect dispersion conditions to keep improving. The Moravia-Silesia region in one of the most polluted in Europe due to heavy industry on both sides of the Czech-Polish border, as well as heavy traffic and the fact that many homes use low-quality coal for heating.
A Czech snowboarder suffered injuries in an avalanche he and his companion triggered near Pitztahl, in the Austrian Alps, on Sunday, the news agency APA reported. The two 40-year-old Czechs were snowboarding outside of designated ski slopes despite the fact an avalanche warning was in place, the agency said. They immediately triggered an avalanche; one of them managed to free himself from the snow, the other was dragged for some 300 metres. The injured man was airlifted to hospital.