In football, Czech national goalkeeper Petr Čech will face the current Spanish league leaders in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Čech’s club Chelsea was drawn on Friday against Atletico Madrid, who beat Barcelona in the previous round. It’s not clear yet whether Atletico’s goalkeeper Thibault Courtois will play in the encounter as he is on loan from the London club. Courtois is tipped as Čech’s successor as first choice Chelsea ‘keeper. In the other draw, Real Madrid will play current Champions’ League title holder Bayern Munich.
The Minister of Agriculture, Marian Jurečka, has confirmed the dismissal of the director of the country’s National Agricultural Museum. He said the sacking follows the case of a man on the run from prison who applied, using a false name, and was appointed as the museum’s chief economist. In the post, he channeled around 10 million crowns from the museum’s account. Eva Balaštiková had been appointed as director by a previous Civic Democrat minister, Petr Bendl.
The chairman of the European Parliament has said that Brussels institutions should consider transferring more powers and responsibilities to national states and regions. Martin Schulz was speaking at the start of a three day visit to the Czech Republic and on Friday opened a conference marking the upcoming 10th anniversary of Czech membership of the EU. Europe was a work in progress and had deficits in the areas of democracy and fairness, Schulz said in his speech. The anniversary of EU accession takes place on May 1.
In ice hockey, Czech club Lev Praha has won its way through to the finals of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) after a narrow win on Thursday night. Lev beat Lokomotiv Jaroslavl 3:2 on the night to take the series 4:1. Lev Praha becomes the first non-Russian team to get through to the finals. The team’s opponents in the final could become clear Friday with the game between Magnitogorsk and Yulaev.
A 93 year old war veteran and journalist, Bedřich Utiz, has been named this year’s winner of the Arnošt Lustig prize. The prize was created following the death of the famous Czech writer in 2011 to recognize those who displayed courage, integrity, and strived for the public good. Utiz escaped the Nazi occupation to Palestine and later joined the Czechoslovak army in exile, fighting in the Western desert and Normandy. After the war he worked for the Czechoslovak News Agency and Czechoslovak Radio. He was posted to West Germany ahead of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and decided not to return home. Instead, he helped found the publishing house in exile, Index, which functioned until the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
Czech archeologists say they have found significant traces of a hitherto unknown medieval agricultural village on the outskirts of Pardubice. Many of the traces of the village from the 14th century in the Stéblová district are well preserved thanks to the groundwater present. That has meant that some wooden as well as stone objects have been conserved. The excavation has taken place due to work on a new road junction.
A record 857 candidates are standing for the 21 European Parliament seats allotted to the Czech Republic in May’s elections, the ČTK news agency reported on Thursday. This compares with the 708 candidates five years ago and 800 in 2004. The number of seats this time round for Czech MEPs has fallen to 21 from 22. The elections are being held on May 23 and 24.
Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek said the ČEZ tender to build two reactors at the same time and site was perhaps over ambitious and simply not just possible under current electricity prices. The minister added that the question of whether a wholly owned state company should take over nuclear power plant construction should be asked. The focus of shareholder companies like ČEZ is often on every increasing short term profits and not on projects with a return over 60 years. A new tender could also have the advantage of opening up to new bidders, he added.
Changes in the constitution which would curb the president’s power have been suggested by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Sobotka told the CTK news agency that a 30 day limit from the parliament’s first meeting after elections should be put on the head of state to appoint a prime minister. This would avoid the situation of a former government staying in power with no mandate, he said. Sobotka also suggested that the upper house, the Senate, should have the right to agree presidential appointments to the board of the Czech National Bank. President Miloš Zeman waited until mid January to appoint Sobotka as prime minister following early elections in October 2013.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has challenged Russia to withdraw its troops currently lining the Ukraine border. Speaking on a visit to Prague and after a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Rasmussen said the around 40,000 Russian soldiers weren’t on an exercise but were combat troops ready for battle. Withdrawal of the troops would contribute to easing tensions and help start talks with Ukraine, he added. Rasmussen added that NATO countries should take more advantage of opportunities to jointly buy equipment since they could not meet all their equipment needs on their own.