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Parliamentary Committee urges prime minister to fall in line with other EU countries over sanctions

The parliamentary committee for European Affairs on Thursday called on Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to act in accordance with the majority of EU countries when negotiating the planned extension of new EU sanctions against Russia. The Czech government on Wednesday authorised the Prime Minister to voice objections to some of the planned sanctions against Russia. The government is planning to table reservations to the sanctions’ extension to goods with both civil and military applications in order to protect Czech machinery producers.

Rescuers search for buried victims under collapsed road bridge

A road bridge near the town of Havlíčkův Brod collapsed on Thursday afternoon, allegedly killing one person and wounding five others. The incident happened on a section of road which is under construction and is closed to traffic. The bridge allegedly collapsed while being dismantled by road workers. Rescue teams with dogs are now searching the rubble for any people who might be possibly buried underneath.

Employers stand against minimal wage hike

Government officials, trade union leaders and employers have failed to agree on a hike of minimal wage by CZK 700. Employers have opposed the Social Democratic proposal, arguing that the government and trade unions had previously agreed to a CZK 500 rise from the present 8,500 crowns to 9,000, starting from January 2015. Prime Minister Sobotka said the decision about the minimal wage was up to the government.

Interruption of fuel supplies from Russia unlikely to threaten Temelín

Czech nuclear power plant Temelín should not be threatened by a possible interruption of nuclear fuel supplies from Russia due to the on-going conflict in Ukraine, says ČEZ Chief Executive Daniel Beneš. Mr Beneš, who visited the plant on Thursday along with Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek, says the plant’s fuel reserves should last for a year. The deputy Prime Minister has been holding talks with the plant’s operator ČEZ about deepening science and research links with the energy sector.

Slovak lobbyist testifies in favour of former PM’s advisor in corruption case

Slovak arms lobbyist Miloslav Výboh on Thursday testified in favour of Marek Dalík at Prague’s Municipal Court a hearing over a corruption case involving the purchase of armoured vehicles for the Czech Army from the Austrian arms company Steyr. Mr Dalík, former prime minister Mirek Topolánek’s advisor, faces criminal charges over allegedly demanding a bribe of 500 million crowns to ensure that the lucrative order was won by the Austrian firm. The deal was eventually signed in 2009. Marek Dalík faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty of corruption.

Petition protests against enhanced rights for Czech Muslims

Over 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Czech authorities not to award enhanced rights to the country’s Muslim community, the news website echo24.cz reported on Thursday. On September 17, the Muslim community will have been registered in the country for ten years; under Czech law, this would entitle the community to establish Islamic schools, teach Islam at public schools, and provide religious services in the army and in prisons. Muslim marriages would also be officially recognized. However, the Muslim community fails to meet some other conditions to be granted these rights, as only around 3.350 people declared themselves Muslims in the latest population census. The law meanwhile requires that 1 per-mille of the total population, or some 10,400 people, be members of a religious group to be received enhanced rights.

Nurse charged with criminal negligence

The police have charged a nurse with killing a pregnant woman in Orlová in the northern Czech Republic. The 32-year-old woman arrived at a private diabetes ward at the local hospital in June for a routine test. The nurse made a tragic mistake, however, giving the patient a disinfectant instead of glucose. The doctors realized their mistakes several hours later and called the police but the woman was found dead in her home. The nurse faces up to six years in prison for causing death by negligence.

Czernin gardens open to public

The gardens at Prague’s Czernin Palace, the seat of the Czech Republic’s Foreign Ministry, opened to public on Wednesday. The gardens, which were previously accessible only on special occasions, will be open daily between 10 AM and 5 PM, with the exception of winter months. The opening ceremony was attended by Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, who said he hoped the place would become a new meeting point for people.

Šafářová advances to semi-finals at US Open

Czech tennis player Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová has advanced to the doubles semi-finals at the US Open, in which she and Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm beat the Czech duo of Andrea Hlaváčková and Jie Zheng. Záhlavová-Strýcová will face Russian players Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina on Thursday in what will be her first appearance in the US Open semi-finals in her career.

Czechs lose 1:0 to USA in football friendly

The Czech national football team lost 1:0 to the USA in Prague on Wednesday night, in a warm-up game ahead of next week’s Euro qualification against Holland. The only goal of the friendly came in the 39th minute from Alejandro Bedoya after a major error of the Czech defence. It was the Czech team’s fourth game under manager Pavel Vrba whose record now includes two draws and two losses.