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President names new transport minister

President Miloš Zeman named Dan Ťok of the ANO movement the new minister for transport on Thursday. He becomes the tenth person in six years to hold the ministerial post. Until now Mr Ťok headed the Czech branch of the Skanska construction company. His candidacy came under fire from critics who said his naming to the government would lead to a conflict of interest. The prime minister was reportedly also concerned but backed Mr Ťok on the basis of his reputation as a strong advocate of transparency in business. The new transport minister will have to tackle several outstanding tasks, including the coordination of new infrastructure projects.

Some areas remain without electricity following calamitous weather conditions earlier in week

Hundreds of households in parts of the country remained without electricity on Thursday, following calamitous weather conditions earlier this week. Freezing rain led to widespread power outages; still affected were parts of southern Moravia and Bohemia – where E.ON operates, as well as North and West Bohemia, where ČEZ is a provider. Fallen trees, downing electricity lines, remained a problem. Providers are working to try to get damaged parts of the grid operational again.

Communist MP will not face criminal charges

Communist Party MP Marta Semelová will not face criminal charges over contentious comments she made in a past TV interview. A police spokesman confirmed the news on Thursday, adding that an expert witness had not found grounds for legal action. In her interview, the MP had said that the testimony of 1950 show trial victim Milada Horáková had not been forced and also asserted that the 1968 Soviet-led invasion had actually represented “international assistance”. Two hate speech complaints were filed against Ms Semelová as a result.

Seehofer attends opening of Bavarian representative office

The minister-president of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, has said he could envisage a meeting between members of his cabinet and the Czech government, although such a meeting, he said, was unlikely in the near future, the Czech News Agency reports. Mr Seehofer was in Prague on Thursday for the opening of the new Bavarian representative office, which was also attended by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Mr Sobotka is to visit Munich next year and has not ruled out taking a Czech delegation including cabinet ministers.

Six receive suspended sentences for roles in Máj unrest

Six individuals charged with hooliganism and causing bodily harm which sparked unrest in the Máj housing district in České Budějovice in the summer of 2013 have received suspended sentences ranging between 1 and 2.5 years. According to iDnes, criminal charges against two suspects were dropped and their actions will be assessed as misdemeanors by city hall. Of those found guilty, four have accepted the sentences while two appealed. Unrest in the area was originally sparked by two children pushing and shoving at a playground, two women then got into a verbal and physical fight. A rumor quickly spread that “Roma had beaten a pregnant lady” sparking a wider conflict which led to 47 people being charged, some of whom also received suspended sentences. Several anti-Roma demonstrations followed.

Woman who made off with three-month old baby faces kidnapping charge

A woman who stole a three-month-old baby from a ward at Prague’s Motol Hospital will stand before a judge on a kidnapping charge. The state prosecutor’s office for Prague 5 is pressing ahead with the case, officials revealed on Thursday; if found guilty the suspect faces up to three years behind bars. The incident took place on July 31st when the 34-year-old suspect allegedly removed the child from a baby carriage. A nurse immediately notified the police, who caught the perpetrator on the street only minutes later.

Family and friends pay last respects to composer Petr Hapka

Family, friends, and colleagues paid their last respects to Czech composer and singer Petr Hapka on Thursday at Prague’s Vyšehrad. Hapka, best-known for his chansons and film scores, died on November 25 at the age of 70. Those who attended the ceremony included composer Ondřej Soukup, pianist Petr Malásek, Hapka’s longtime friend and creative collaborator lyricist Michal Horáček, actor and comedian Bolek Polívka and many others.

Newborn boy left in babybox in Prague

A new-born boy was placed in a babybox in Prague on Wednesday evening at around six p.m. The founder of the Czech baby box network, Ludvík Hess, said the baby was placed in the box immediately after birth and that the child’s condition was stable. The baby, who was given the name Tomáš, was the second in one week to be abandoned in this manner. There are currently a total of 63 baby boxes in the Czech Republic, and in the past nine years, 67 girls and 44 boys were left in them.

Poll: Czechs consider organised crime biggest threat

Czechs perceive organized crime and terrorism the biggest threat for their country, according to a poll by the CVVM agency released on Wednesday. 65 percent of respondents consider international organised crime a large security risk, while 47 percent said they feared radical religious movements. More than a quarter of Czechs also fear Russia, which is considered to be a bigger threat than the situation in Ukraine or Iraq.

Football: Sparta qualify for last quarterfinal spot in Czech Cup

Football club Sparta Prague have become the last club to qualify for the quarterfinals of the league’s Czech Cup, edging Příbram by a score of 3-1. Sparta are the defending champions from last year. Sparta got goals from Přikryl, Hušbauer, Dočkal for the win. Pilík got the lone goal for the losing side.