The light of Bethlehem, traditionally brought to the Czech Republic from Vienna by a group of scouts, is due to arrive in Brno just after 6.30 pm on Saturday. In the course of next week it will be taken to key destinations around the country and placed in churches and institutions from which people can take it to their homes. It will also burn at the Czech Radio building on Vinohradská street in Prague. The tradition of bringing the light of Bethlehem to the Czech Republic started in 1990 a year after the fall of communism.
A referendum held this Saturday on whether to ban gambling in the town of Olomouc has been declared invalid due to a low turnout. The turnout was a mere 8.2 percent with just 6,689 people taking part. Of those 6, 389 voted in favour of a ban. Paradoxically 9,000 townspeople signed a petition for the referendum to be held.
Police in Ostrava say they have detained a man who is suspected of having attacked and robbed three women in the city in the last few weeks. The 18-year-old reportedly owned up to the attacks saying that he was in financial straits. He has been charged with robbery and attempted rape. If convicted he would face a jail sentence of up to ten years.
The Czech power company ČEZ has confirmed that it will temporarily halt operations at its coal burning plant in the sea port of Varna, Bulgaria as of the beginning of next year after it failed to bring the plant up to EU environmental rules. ČEZ said it had been denied an exemption by the European Commission and the plant cannot continue to work without an environmental upgrade after December 31st. With a generating capacity of 1,260 megawatt, the plant serves as a back-up to the national power grid and the Bulgarian authorities have stressed the importance of keeping it in operation, pointing out it could become a much needed source of energy if Bulgaria were to be hit by a gas crisis.
As of December 13 new EU legislation will require food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged, for example in catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars. There are also changes to legislation with respect to labelling allergenic ingredients in prepacked foods. The changes include a minimum font size for mandatory information, which is 1,2mm.
More uncontrolled explosions are reported to have taken place at the Vrbetice munitions depot overnight. According to a police spokeswoman close to twenty lighter explosions were registered at the site in the late hours of Friday. A storage facility of the grounds was levelled by a massive explosion in mid-October scattering ammunition all over the site and pyrotechnics experts have so far been unable to bring the situation under control. Over one hundred and fifty soldiers are now at the site to undertake clean-up work and provide security. The depot was leased by a private company engaged in weapons trade.
The Social Democratic Party leadership has scrapped one of the party’s local branches over cooperation with extremists. The party’s executive leadership on Saturday voted to abolish the party’s local branch in Duchcov, north Bohemia in reaction to the fact that following local elections in October it formed a coalition with the ultra-right Workers Party of Social Justice. Social Democrat leader and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the party branch had been scrapped for acting at variance with the party’s policy program and its values. Mr. Sobotka said the Social Democrats were opposed to forming a coalition on any level with parties of a racist and fascist character such as the Workers Party of Social Justice.
The sales of spirits in the Czech Republic have gone up, reaching the level preceding a methanol crisis in 2012, during which 47 Czechs died after drinking poisonous illegally produced spirits. The rise of liquor sales is attributed mainly to the curbing of the illegal alcohol market. According to the head of Czech liquor producer Stock, Czechs are still wary of consuming hard alcohol and the figures are markedly lower than in the years 2008 and 2009. The sales of hard alcohol for 2013 reached 20 million litres, which is 10 percent less than in 2011.
The Czech State Opera on Friday hosts the world premiere of the opera Nová Země or New Earth, which was written by Czech composer Alois Hába in 1936. The opera was officially banned by the Czechoslovak Ministry of Education as it justified the violent collectivisation in a Soviet village and has never been performed. Friday’s performance will be a one-off event.
The CIA’s brutal interrogation of people suspected of terrorism is unacceptable, regardless of the circumstances under which it was carried out, Czech Foreign Minister Lubmír Zaorálek told the Czech News Agency through his spokesman on Friday. Mr. Zaorálek made the comment in reaction to a US Senate Intelligence Committee report this week on the brutal practices used by the country’s intelligence services. Some international NGOs say that the Czech Republic has taken part in covert CIA programmes by providing an airport for transfers.