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Zaorálek tells Czechs in Ukraine stability in country in interests of Prague and EU

The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, has told ethnic Czechs in Ukraine that his country supported changes that would help bring Ukraine closer to the European Union. Speaking in Uzhhorod in the far west of Ukraine, Mr. Zaorálek said it was in Czech and EU interests for the crisis-hit state to be politically stable and economically prosperous. Hundreds of what are known as Volhynia Czechs have asked Prague to repatriate them. President Miloš Zeman has offered them support, but Mr. Zaorálek’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs insists they face no immediate threat that would justify the cost of moving them to the Czech Republic.

Czech soldiers in Afghanistan awarded Bronze Star Medals

Two Czech soldiers have been awarded Bronze Star Medals, the fourth-highest individual honour in the US military, for their service in Afghanistan, the spokeswoman for the Czech General Staff confirmed on Thursday. Jiří Pazděra, commander of a military company that has guarded the Bagram allied base over the past six months, and David Lavička, a warrant officer, received the Bronze Stars from US Major General Stephen Townsend. Other Czech soldiers received lower level honours. Major General Townsend praised the role of the Czech unit in Afghanistan and said in a speech that if he could choose only one nation to stay in Afghanistan with the US, it would be the Czechs. Commander Pazděra said he viewed the medal as appreciation of the whole company´s performance. He added that the Czechs had succeeded in reversing the trend of an annual increase in the number of incidents and attacks on the base.

Former StB men get suspended sentences for January 1989 beating

Two communist-era secret police officers, Petr Beran and Kamil Líbal, have received suspended sentences for beating up a youth of 17 during an interrogation in January 1989. The incident occurred in connection with demonstrations in Prague marking the anniversary of the death of Jan Palach. The two StB men allegedly aimed to force a confession out of David Kabzan that would be used in a case against Václav Havel, at that time a leading dissident. One of the two has appealed the verdict. Mr. Beran told the court that he had merely being fulfilling the orders of politicians, adding that he regarded his prosecution as political persecution.

PM criticizes president’s use of private company jet

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called a decision by the country’s president, Miloš Zeman, to return from China aboard a private plane earlier in the week a “political mistake”. Speaking to Czech Radio, the prime minister suggested opting for a plane leased by PPF and J&T, rather than a government plane, had marred what had otherwise been a “positive” trip. Along with Mr Zeman, PPF owner and billionaire Petr Kellner met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the trip; the Czech news agency reported Mr Kellner signed a contract with Chinese energy firm CEFC. The President’s Office justified Mr Zeman’s use of the private plane as having saved time so he could attend the promotion of new generals on Czech soil on October 28th, a state holiday marking the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

Czech Philharmonic to mark 25th anniversary of Velvet Revolution with “From the New World Symphony” at Carnegie Hall

The Czech Philharmonic, under the direction of renowned conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, will perform Antonín Dvořák’s “From the New World Symphony” at Carnegie Hall in New York on November 16th – the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Czech cultural representatives, part of a delegation led by the head of the Chamber of Deputies Jan Hamáček, are bringing to the US the original handwritten score which Dvořák wrote during his time in the United States. The score has not left the country in more than 100 years. The composer’s grandson will also be travelling to the US for the occasion.

Severely handicapped boy, who was at centre of record settlement, dies

A five-year-old boy who suffered permanent brain damage and damage to other organs when his delivery was botched when he was born at Prague’s Vinohrady Hospital in 2009, died last week Czech Radio reports. The child, left blind and deaf, had required continuous assistance. The parents of the child agreed earlier with the hospital to a record 20 million crown settlement, following a long-running court case; the facility’s head, who offered the family condolences, confirmed for Czech Radio that the hospital was respecting the agreement, saying the funds were deposited with a public notary and would be released in inheritance proceedings.

Supreme Court rejects TV Prima appeal

The nation’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by commercial broadcaster TV Prima which had fought to overturn a 400,000 crown fine for questionable images broadcast in 2008, the Czech News Agency reports. The broadcaster was handed the fine by the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting for showing – for entertainment purposes – scenes of human suffering in drastic detail. The council found that the images could have had a negative psychological impact on young viewers not least since they were broadcast in the afternoon. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, Prague’s Municipal Court and the Supreme Administrative Court had upheld the fine.

Study ranks Czechs 17th in Europe when it comes to number of road fatalities

A new study conducted by the Allianz technology centre suggests that out of more than 180 countries the Czech Republic ranks 36th when it came to the number of road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants and 17th in Europe. The study was based largely on numbers from the World Health Organization, according to reports. Neighbouring countries which fared better on the European scale were Germany (6th) and Austria (9th) while Slovakia ranked 20th and Poland 26th. The safest countries in Europe when it came to the lowest number of traffic fatalities are Sweden, Great Britain and Malta, according to the study.

Poll: Babiš 'most trusted'

A new poll released by the CVVM agency suggests that Czechs most trust Finance Minister Andrej Babiš of leaders in Parliament. According to the poll, 58 percent ranked Mr Babiš first; he was followed by the country’s EU commissioner, Věra Jourová, who until recently was the minister for regional development, and the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. Those queried said they trusted former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek the least.

Tennis: Berdych through to quarter-finals in Paris

Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdcyh advanced to the quarter-final on Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open to stay in the running in a spot for November’s ATP World Tour Finals. The fifth seed defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3 in Paris to improve to a 53-19 match record this season.