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Foreign Ministry unable to confirm report about Czech nationals being taken hostage in Ukraine

The Czech Foreign Ministry says it has no information which would confirm that Czech nationals have been taken hostage by pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Johana Grohova said on Sunday that no Czechs were currently taking part in observer missions in Ukraine and the ministry had no reports of any Czech national gone missing in the country. The statement came shortly after pro-Russian rebel leader Miroslav Rudenko said pro-Russian forces had taken hostage a large number of foreign soldiers including Czech and Polish nationals. The Czech embassy in Kiev and the Czech Defense Ministry also say they have no information which would confirm the claim.

Bavarian PM says more time and patience will heal wounds of the past

Addressing a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft on Sunday, Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer said more time and patience would be required to overcome the injustices of WWII. He said Bavaria was opening a representative office in Prague which pointed to above-standard relations and expressed the hope that more high-placed Czech government representatives would attend meetings of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft in the coming years. This year’s meeting heard calls, among others from Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller, for Prague to consider rescinding the Beneš decrees which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from the border areas of Czechoslovakia. Ms. Müller said the decrees were unjust and have no place in the European legal order. The appeal was rejected by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who said that this painful chapter of Czech-German history had been addressed in the 1997 Czech-German declaration and the Czech government had no reason to question the validity of the decrees or reopen painful issues relating to WWII.

Pope Francis helps Litoměřice flood victims

Pope Francis has sent the Litoměřice diocese a financial gift to help the victims of last year’s devastating floods, the internet news site Novinky.cz reported on Sunday. The money from the papal fund is to be divided among several families in three villages which were worst affected by the natural disaster. A number of people lost their homes and all their possessions prompting an appeal for help to the Pope by Litoměřice Bishop Jan Baxant. The financial assistance will be handed over at a special ceremony next week.

ČEZ may call new tender for Temelín expansion next year

The state-owned power giant ČEZ may call a new tender for the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant next year, according to the deputy chair of the company’s board of directors Václav Pačes. Mr. Pačes told Czech Television on Sunday that in his view this was a likely scenario and that there were still three options on the table – the expansion of Temelín by one or two reactors or the expansion of the Dukovany nuclear power plant. ČEZ scrapped a tender for Temelín’s expansion by two reactors in April of this year on the argument that since the government would not guarantee the price of electricity generated by the new reactors the project would be economically unfeasible.

Green Party leader resigns in wake of election defeat

Green Party leader Ondřej Liška resigned from his post at a meeting of the party leadership on Sunday. Mr. Liška, who has led the party since 2009, announced his decision shortly after the party’s poor showing in elections to the European Parliament. The party won only 3.7 percent of the vote, failing to cross the five percent margin needed to win seats in the assembly. Ondřej Liška said he was taking personal responsibility for the party’s defeat and noted that was greatly disappointed by the low voter turnout. The party will be run by its first deputy Jana Drápalová, until a new leader is elected in the autumn.

Brno’s Ghettofest attracts hundreds of visitors

Hundreds of people turned out for the third annual street art festival Ghettofest in Brno over the weekend. The festival takes place in the city’s poorest quarter, a slum area commonly referred to as the Brno Bronx. The two-day undertaking, which aims to combat prejudice and highlight the conditions in which some of the city’s poorest inhabitants are living in, offered visitors music, dance and theatre performances as well as sports events, exhibitions and public debates. The festival will end with a mass and a prayer for peaceful co-existence.

Police searching for Vinohrady burglar

Police are searching for a burglar who is believed to have robbed over 100 homes in Prague’s central Vinohrady district in the past two years. The man, who has already been jailed five times for burglary, is on the run, having failed to serve his sixth prison term. The robber reportedly works in the late morning or early afternoon hours when many flats and houses are empty and steals mainly electronics, jewels and cash.