President Miloš Zeman supports a new appeal by 232 ethnic Volhyn Czechs in Ukraine for the state to help with their repatriation to the Czech Republic, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said at a press meeting on Monday. The president is to present a list of names to Interior Minister Milan Chovanec on October 18. In all, members of 70 families are asking for help to return over fears that the situation in Ukraine is not stable. In the past, they cited fears over a possible war with Russia, following developments in the east of the country and the annexation of Crimea. President Miloš Zeman has said he is deeply disappointed with the work of the Czech embassy in Kiev. The president told journalists at the weekend that he had voiced his reservations during a meeting with the Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek.
The trial of former government chief-of-of staff Jana Nagyová (now Nečasová) found guilty in July in simplified or 'fast track' proceedings of abusing the country’s military intelligence by getting it to secretly spy on the former prime minister’s wife, is set to begin on November 20. She, along with former intelligence officer Jan Pohůnek and former military intelligence heads Milan Kovanda and Ondrej Páleník, face up to three years in prison if found guilty of wrongdoing. Nagyová, who married the former prime minister Petr Nečas following the scandal which led to the fall of the centre-right government, appealed the earlier conviction and suspended sentence, as did the state prosecutor, paving the way for a full trial.
The city of Prague will receive help from the government over planned or ongoing infrastructure projects the prime minister said on Monday, saying the government would hold talks with the city leadership after the upcoming municipal elections. Specifically, the prime minister stressed that the government wanted to focus on a railway connection between the city’s Masaryk Station and Prague’s international airport, the completion of Prague’s ring road, and the construction of a new metro line, labelled “D” from Pankrác to Písnice. Prime Minister Sobotka admitted that the ring road project was complex and would only be completed over the course of several years. He made clear that funds could be released for infrastructure such as the rail connection between Václav Havel Airport and the city centre, stressing that a quality connection was in the interest of the state.
The Trója Bridge, which is part of the recently completed Blanka tunnel complex, opened to traffic early on Monday. Plans for the bridge changed radically in the course of its construction and its initial cost estimate of 450 million crowns reached the billion crown mark. The entire Blanka tunnel complex, which cost 36.9 billion crowns and was delayed by three years ,will open to the public on December 2. The complex consists of three tunnels connecting the district of Střešovice, the area west of Prague Castle and Trója in the northeast.
The volume of the Czech Republic’s GDP has grown by over 500 percent in nominal terms since the fall of communism in 1989, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office. In real terms Czech GDP has increased by over a half, the office says. The average wage increased by 52 percent from just over 3,000 crowns a month in 1990 to 25,800 in 2014. The standard of living rose from some 60 percent of the EU average in 1993 to 80 percent in 2013.
Friends, family members, and former colleagues from the world of culture paid their last respects to composer and musician Petr Skoumal at the Strašnice crematorium in Prague on Monday. Mr Skoumal died on September 28th at the age of 76. Attendees at the funeral ceremony included actor and screenwriter Zdeněk Svěrák, film director Jan Hřebejk, theatre director and actor Jan Kačer and many others. The ceremony was closed to the public. Skoumal, who had studied conducting, was widely known his songs for both adults and children and also wrote music for films. Music journalist Jiří Černý described him as the most original Czech popular composer of the last 30 years.
A villa built without a construction permit in Pardubice, east of Prague, is close to being legalized the Czech News Agency reports. The luxury villa, belonging to businessman Miloš Holeček, earlier faced demolition, but local representatives voted instead for changes in the local zoning plan which will allow the building to remain. The villa borders a local park, near the confluence of the Labe and Chrudimka. The owner was earlier fined 200,000 crowns for building the house without a permit.
The police have detained and charged a 15-year-old girl in Brno with attempted murder. The girl is suspected of an attack in the forest on a 10-year-old girl with an ax and a knife, chopping off one of the child’s fingers. The minor remains in custody; the police have not released additional details due to the suspect’s age, but commercial broadcaster TV Nova reported the suspect lured the other girl into the forest, where she tied her up and subjected her to torture. If found guilty, the girl could be sentenced to seven years in a correctional facility for juveniles and later prison; the sentence for an adult is up to fifteen years behind bars.
A person picking fruit in a forested area near the village of Kosmonosy near Mladá Boleslav made the discovery of a human skeleton on Sunday, the spokesman for Central Bohemia’s police, David Schön, announced on the force’s webpages. The remains were uncovered only a few hundred metres from a nearby road; a doctor called to the scene was unable to determine the cause of death and ordered an autopsy. The police are cross-referencing what they know so far with missing persons reports. The results of the autopsy should be known in several days.
Former first-choice Chelsea goalie Petr Čech made his 480th appearance for the London club on Sunday after new team No. 1 Thibaut Courtois suffered a head injury in a chilling collision with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez just ten minutes into the match. Courtois played for another 14 minutes before coming off to be taken to hospital. Coach Jose Mourinho said that he had been confident that replacement Čech would do a “fantastic job”; Chelsea ended up winning the match 2:0. The coach later made clear that Courtois had suffered from an apparent concussion but that the injury was not serious. Back-up Čech was Chelsea’s starting goalie for a decade; there is speculation that – if he fails to regain his place as the club’s top goalie – he will reconsider his options when the next transfer window opens.