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Sobotka hoping Chinese businesses see Czech Republic as gateway to EU

Multifaceted relations between the two states could lead Chinese businesses to see the Czech Republic as a gateway to the European Union, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said in Belgrade on Tuesday after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Li Kequiang. The two leaders were attending a summit of 16 Central and Eastern European states and China. Mr. Sobotka said relations between Prague and Beijing could include economic, cultural and healthcare cooperation, as well as a dialogue on human rights and the rule of law.

Rittig loses appeal over “robber” apology though Zaorálek must apologise for property statement

Influential businessman Ivo Rittig has lost an appeal against a court ruling that the minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, does not have to apologise to him for calling him a robber. Prague’s Supreme Court on Tuesday also rejected Mr. Rittig’s demand for financial compensation of CZK 100,000 from the minister. However, a previous ruling remains in place under which Mr. Zaorálek must apologise for linking Mr. Rittig to a large amount of cash and gold seized in a police raid last year. Mr. Rittig is under investigation over a case involving the supply of public transport tickets in Prague, the asset-stripping of a company and the leak of information from the intelligence service.

Readying site for munitions from Vrbětice to cost state CZK 20 million, says minister

It will cost the state up to CZK 20 million to put a munitions depot at the village of Květná into operation, the minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said on Tuesday after visiting the site, which is north of Brno. The transfer to Květná of munitions from a store in Vrbětice, eastern Moravia, where two buildings have blown up in recent months, could begin in January. There could be a permanent depot in Květná for such situations in future, the minister said.

Astronomical Institute asks public for help in searching for pieces of bolide

The Astronomical Institute of the Czech Republic has asked members of the public for help in looking for parts of a meteor, classified as a bolide, which lit up the evening sky over the region of Vysočina last Tuesday. The meteor broke up in different pieces and is thought to have fallen near Ždár nad Sazavou. An observatory in Veselí nad Moravou captured an extraordinary image of the celestial object. Upon entering the atmosphere the bolide is estimated to have weighed around 200 kilograms before breaking up.

Prague prosecutor charges 16 over illegal trade in rhino horns

A Prague state prosecutor has filed charges against 16 people over the illegal trade in rhinoceros horns. The group – who could face up to eight years in jail – are suspected of operating in the Czech Republic, Vietnam and South Africa. Some members are accused of engaging hunters to travel to South Africa and bring back the horns in exchange for free trips and payment. Hunting rhinos is not illegal in the country; horns can be kept as trophies but not sold or given away.

Czech delegation delayed after government A319 sees technical problems

A Czech delegation headed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Industry and Trade Jan Mládek headed for a summit of central and eastern European countries as well as China in Belgrade was delayed on Monday evening when the government A319 suffered technical problems and was grounded. The plane was to have taken off from Prague’s Kbely airport at 8:30 PM. A replacement was founded in the Czech Army’s Challenger, a smaller plane which made the flight. It is expected the repaired A319 will fly empty to Belgrade ahead of the end of the one-day summit, to bring the premier and others back to Prague later on Tuesday.

Record number of species reproduce at Prague Zoo this year

Some 228 different species have reproduced at Prague Zoo this year, which is a record. Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, the zoo’s director, Miroslav Bobek, said a total of 1,227 young had been born at the institution since the start of 2014. He said many of the species were endangered and very difficult to breed.

Milan Grygar retrospective gets underway in Prague

A retrospective of work by Czech artist Milan Grygar entitled Visual and Acoustic is set to open at the City of Prague Gallery on Wednesday. The show concentrates on Grygar’s work – which combines visual art and sound elements – from the mid-1960s until the present day. The artist, who was born in 1926, attended a preview on Tuesday. In a long career he has also produced graphic works and created 175 film posters between 1961 and 1989.

Berdych hires Vallverdu after severing ties with Czech coaches

The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has hired Daniel Vallverdu as his new coach. The Venezuelan former player previously worked with Andy Murray for four years. Berdych, who is 29, made the announcement on his Facebook page on Tuesday, adding that he would no longer be working with his hitherto coaches Tomáš Krupa and David Vydra.