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Zeman not indifferent to sharp fall in public trust, says aide

A close aide to President Miloš Zeman says the head of state is not indifferent to a steep fall in his public trust ratings. Speaking to Czech Television, the head of the Office of the President’s Foreign Affairs Department, Hynek Kmoníček, said Mr. Zeman would have to think about his communication strategy in order to explain his aims more clearly. A poll released last week suggested that trust in the president had fallen by a record 21 percent in one month following comments he made on China and Russia and an expletive-dotted live radio interview. Mr. Kmoníček said his boss’s “strong statements” occasionally overshadowed other important parts of his agenda that also merited attention.

New bill barring smoking in pubs sent to ministries for review

A new bill drafted by the Ministry of Health envisages a ban on smoking in restaurants in the Czech Republic. The legislation would bar smoking in places where food is prepared, which would mean most of the country’s pubs. It was this week sent to other ministries for review, the news site iDnes.cz reported. If it gains the necessary support, the law – which would also require bar operators to carry a non-alcoholic drink cheaper than beer – would come into effect the year after next. Several attempts to ban smoking in Czech hostelries have come nothing over the years.

Lights on Old Town Square Christmas tree turned on

The lights on a Christmas tree at a Christmas market on Prague’s Old Town Square were turned on for the first time this year on Saturday afternoon. The illuminations on the 26-metre pine tree were switched on by veteran actress Hana Maciuchová and Jakub Kohák, an entertainer and director of commercials. A tree at Prague Castle will be lit up on Sunday, the first of advent, by Ivana Zemanová, the wife of the president.

Czech official disparages UK PM's immigration plans with tweet referencing Czech WWII airmen

The Czech Republic’s state secretary for European affairs, Tomáš Prouza, has used Twitter to disparage UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to cut immigration. Evidently angered by Mr. Cameron’s suggestion that immigrants could only receive benefits after four years in the UK, Mr. Prouza on Friday tweeted a picture of Czech airman who served in the RAF during WWII with the words “These Czechs ‘worked’ in the #UK for less than four years. No benefits for them?” By Saturday morning his comment and photo had been retweeted around 1,500 times.

Respekt: Most of State Cinematography Fund’s support set to go one movie for first time

An unprecedented 60 percent of the State Cinematography Fund’s annual budget to support feature Czech film production is set to go to one movie, the news site Respekt.cz reported. Some CZK 15 million from the state agency’s CZK 25 million budget has been allocated to a film about the black-and-white era actress Lída Baarová by director Filip Renč. Respekt wrote that the decision to award the support to the film was taken despite the fact it did poorly in an evaluation of all projects submitted. Mr. Renč last month received a high state honour from President Miloš Zeman, for whom he had made a campaign ad.

Thousands turn out for re-enactment of Battle of Austerlitz

Around 8,500 people turned out to watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Austerlitz (known in Czech as Slavkov) on Saturday. The event was held at Tvarožná, just outside Brno. Around 900 costumed participants and 60 horses were involved in the two-hour re-enactment of one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s greatest victories, when he defeated the forces of Austria and Russia on December 2, 1805. Organisers said next year’s event would be considerably bigger as it will be the 210th anniversary of what is also known as the Battle of Three Emperors.

Suspended cyclist Kreuziger puts biological passport info online in bid to clear name

Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger has posted data from his biological passport on the internet in a bid to clear his name of suggestions that he may have taken performance-enhancing drugs. The International Cycling Union suspended the 28-year-old in August over what it describes as very serious anomalies in his records for 2011 and 2012, when he was with the Astana team. Kreuziger, who finished fifth in last year’s Tour de France but missed this year’s race, says his biological passport shows he did not breach any limits. The Czech Olympic Committee cleared him of breaking anti-doping regulations in September but the International Cycling Union is contesting that ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.