President Miloš Zeman says he is aware of a conspiracy theory that a protest against him on November 17 was organised by Prague’s U.S. Embassy. In an interview in Saturday’s Právo he said it was “a hypothesis that could not be ruled out”, but added that there was at present no evidence to support it. Thousands of people held up red cards against Mr. Zeman at a demonstration on Prague’s Národní St. on the 25th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution. He made light of the protest in Právo, suggesting the demonstrators were holding Opencards in protest at the waste of a billion crowns on the electronic card system used for public transport and other services. Elsewhere in the interview he said Pussy Riot would have been burned to death in the Middle Ages. His use of a crude Czech word to translate the Russian group’s name and other swearing in a live radio interview was widely condemned.
President Miloš Zeman has described the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, as a “war premier”. In an interview with the newspaper Právo, the Czech head of state said that Kiev was following a two-faced policy, with President Petro Poroshenko representing a “man of peace” while Mr. Yatseniuk wanted to resolve the situation by force rather than accepting a European Commission peace deal. Mr. Zeman said his own perceived pro-Russian position may be one reason he has lost support. He said many poorly informed Czechs wrongly compared the ousting of President Viktor Janukovich to their own Velvet Revolution, and repeated his assertion that the situation in Ukraine is a civil war.
Snow is expected around the Czech Republic this weekend. The Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute said up to 30 centimetres of snow could fall in the Krkonoše and Jizerské mountains by Sunday night. Strong winds are likely to cause snow drifts, the weather forecasters said. Motorists have been advised to pay attention to transport news and drive carefully while people visiting the mountains should follow the information released by the mountain services.
Prime minister and Social Democrats chairman Bohuslav Sobotka says he is not planning to invite President Miloš Zeman to a party congress in March. Mr. Sobotka made the comment in an interview with the TV station Nova. Mr. Zeman’s spokesman said it was up to the prime minister whether he invited the president. Mr. Zeman turned the Social Democrats into an election-winning force in the 1990 but quit the party in 2007. He was reportedly involved in a failed effort to oust Mr. Sobotka as chairman after the last elections that resulted in some of his supporters losing influence in the party.
The Czech Republic have been knocked out of the Ice Hockey World Junior Championship in Canada after being beaten 3:0 by Slovakia in the quarter-finals on Friday. It was the Czech under 20s third exit in a row at the last eight stage of the competition. The result means they have now failed to take a medal in the competition 10 times in succession.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has been named most influential person in Czech media for the second year in a row by Forbes magazine. The ANO chief and business magnate owns Mafra, which publishes the newspapers Mladá fronta Dnes and Lidové noviny, and Impuls, the country’s most popular radio station. Czech Television director general Petr Dvořák was named the second most influential figure in local media in the Forbes list, followed by Daniel Křetínský, co-owner and de facto boss of publishers Czech News Center.
2014 saw the warmest weather in the Czech Republic in at least nine years, according to figures released by the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute. The average temperature for the year was 9.4 degrees Celsius – 1.9 degrees higher than that for the years 1971 to 2000. May and August were the only months in 2014 to have lower average temperatures than those registered in 1971–2000. Rainfall last year was below the long-term average.
Prague City Hall which earlier announced plans to lower the price of pre-paid annual coupons for city transport, says the reduction will not be made before mid-2015 and there will be no compensation for people who have already acquired their annual ticket. The new coalition at Prague City Hall promised to reduce the price of annual tickets by 1,100 crowns from the present 4,750. The new administration is hoping the move will encourage more people to use public transport and thereby reduce the amount of traffic in the city center.
President Miloš Zeman and the First Lady hosted a New Year’s lunch for Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and his wife Olga at Lány Chateau on Friday. The prime minister said later the debate had covered a broad range of topics, including an assessment of the past year and his government’s government priorities for 2015, foreign policy issues and the need to improve the drawing of EU funds. The head of state has invited the Speaker of the Lower House Jan Hamáček and the Speaker of the Senate Milan Štěch to attend a New Years’ lunch in a weeks’ time.
Meteorologists have issued an ice warning for the entire country from Friday afternoon until mid-day Saturday. In view of the start of the skiing season at the country’s mountain resorts traffic police are out in force and drivers have been warned to exercise extreme caution. Conditions on Czech roads are also expected to worsen due to heavy snowfall on Saturday.