The Road and Motorway Directorate says it has saved 280 million crowns on road maintenance so far thanks to the mild winter. For instance the amount of technical salt used on roads dropped from 16,000 tons last year to 5,700 tons this winter. The money saved is to be used for road repairs in the spring.
Forty-three people had to be evacuated from a ski lift in the Jesníky Mountains on Friday after it got stuck due to a technical problem. The evacuation process took just over an hour and no one was reported hurt. Due to the relatively warm weather for this time of year there were no cases of hypothermia. The technical problem is reported to have been fixed and the ski lift is back in operation.
Czech tennis player Petra Cetkovská defeated top seed Li Na of China 7-6 2-6 6-4 in the third round of an WTA tournament in Doha, and booked a spot in the quarter-finals. Cetkovská, who advanced to the tournament from qualification, was the first opponent this season to defeat Li Na, the winner of the season–opening Australian Open. In other results from Doha, Petra Kvitová beat Lucie Šafařová 7-6 5-7 6-2 in the third round.
The Czech Republic defeated Latvia 4-2 in the men's ice hockey tournament at the Sochi Games on Friday, restoring their hopes of earning top spot in their group ahead of the quarter-finals. Jaromír Jágr and Marek Židlický both scored for the second straight game and fellow NHL players Jakub Voráček and Martin Erat also contributed a goal apiece. Ondřěj Pavelec posted 18 saves to help the Czechs improve to 1-1 in Group C play. Both teams conclude Group C play on Saturday with the Czechs facing Switzerland and Latvia playing Sweden.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov has cancelled a planned visit to the Czech Republic, a spokesman for the Czech president’s office said on Thursday. The controversial Uzbek leader, who was set to arrive in Prague next week, asked Czech President Miloš Zeman to postpone the visit; the decision came after Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, other cabinet members and Prague City Hall officials refused to meet the Uzbek president. Mr Karimov, who has been in power since 1991, faces accusations of severe human rights abuses in his country. Earlier this week, a number of NGOs called on Mr Zeman to cancel the invitation. The president refused, arguing that Uzbekistan was an ally of the US in its fight against terrorism in the region.
The police on Thursday arrested controversial Prague businessman Ivo Rittig and three other people, including his attorney. They have been charged with money laundering, Prague High Attorney Lenka Bradáčová said. The case is related to the alleged siphoning of funds from Prague’s city public transport company, the news website idnes.cz wrote. The firm is reported to have bought tickets from anonymously owned companies whose beneficiary is Mr Rittig. He allegedly received a cut from each ticket sold. The controversial businessman also figured in a police operation that led to the fall of the government last June.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is visiting Slovakia, on his second trip abroad since he was appointed last month. Among the issues discussed on Thursday by Mr Sobotka and his Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, were plans to stage a joint session of the Czech and Slovak governments in the coming months. The Czech leader said the two cabinets should discuss, among other things, improving road connections between the two countries. The prime ministers also talked about joint acquisitions of military technology for the Slovak and Czech armies.
The new centre-left Czech government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats have approved their policy programme. In the document rubber-stamped on Wednesday night, the coalition pledges to support business and job creation, make the state apparatus more efficient and transparent and foster social cohesion. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s government will seek confidence in the Chamber of Deputies next Tuesday.
President Miloš Zeman on Thursday formally called elections for the European Parliament in the Czech Republic for May 23 and 24. Voting in all EU member states will take place at the end of May. Czech polls will open at 2 PM on Friday, May 23; they will close at 10 PM to reopen the next day between 8 AM and 2 PM. Czech parties are now finalizing nominations for the elections. The Social Democrat ballot will be headed by sociologist Jan Keller, ANO is fielding former European commissioner Pavel Telička and the Civic Democrats have nominated MEP Jan Zahradil as their electoral leader.
Lawyer Andrew H. Schapiro is to become the new US ambassador to the Czech Republic, the news website respeckt.cz reported on Thursday, citing sources from the Czech Foreign Ministry. Mr Schapiro, as former US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, is to replace the current ambassador Norman Eisen, who has been in the post for three years.