President Miloš Zeman and the First Lady hosted a New Year’s lunch for Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and his wife Olga at Lány Chateau on Friday. The prime minister said later the debate had covered a broad range of topics, including an assessment of the past year and his government’s government priorities for 2015, foreign policy issues and the need to improve the drawing of EU funds. The head of state has invited the Speaker of the Lower House Jan Hamáček and the Speaker of the Senate Milan Štěch to attend a New Years’ lunch in a weeks’ time.
Around 50 percent of Czechs think the current government is doing a good job, according to a poll conducted by the STEM/MARK agency for the Czech Television. Nearly 47 percent of respondents evaluated the government by a grade of 3 on a five point scale and some 13 percent gave it a grade of two, which means very good. Only 1.5 percent of those questioned rated the government as excellent, while more than 13 percent thought the government’s work was insufficient, giving it bottom marks.
President Miloš Zeman will pay at least one visit to Russia this year, the news site Parlamentnilisty.cz reports citing his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček. According to the president’s spokesman the Czech head of state has already accepted an invitation to take part in Moscow’s celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. President Zeman has likewise received an invitation for a state visit to Russia in the fall of this year, though this visit has not yet been confirmed. The Czech president has come under fire for allegedly fostering close ties with Russia and the Washington Post recently described the Czech head of state as a "virtual mouthpiece for Russian President Vladimir Putin".
Prague City Hall which earlier announced plans to lower the price of pre-paid annual coupons for city transport, says the reduction will not be made before mid-2015 and there will be no compensation for people who have already acquired their annual ticket. The new coalition at Prague City Hall promised to reduce the price of annual tickets by 1,100 crowns from the present 4,750. The new administration is hoping the move will encourage more people to use public transport and thereby reduce the amount of traffic in the city center.
A Prague court has started insolvency proceedings against the popular Jan Paukert delicatessen store on Prague’s Narodni street. The owner reportedly owes half a million crowns in rent. The store which sells the Czech open-faced sandwiches and top-quality food and wine from around the world was established in 1916. In 1952 it was nationalized by the communist regime, to be returned to the Paukert family in 1991.
The new Pardubice city council says it does not want to abandon the idea of building a monument on the town’s main square to the Czech aviation pioneer Jan Kašpar. Plans to build the town’s famous aviator a monument were shelved by the former administration after the winning entry proved too expensive for the town’s coffers. The new administration says it will meet with the winner of the tender for fresh talks.
In 1911 Kašpar undertook a successful long-distance flight from Pardubice to Prague in a retrofitted single-engine monoplane, bought from Louis Bleriot after the Frenchman’s successful flight over the English Channel. Kašpar flew his plane at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour covering the 120 km distance from Pardubice to Prague in 1 hour and 32 minutes.
A court in Usti nad Labem has ruled that a man suspected of raping and killing a nine-year-old girl last year will remain in custody. The man, who is a distant relative of the victim, has undergone psychiatric tests in a prison hospital. The judge refused to release him on bail for fear that he might flee or perpetrate further crimes. The man faces from twenty years in prison to an exceptional punishment.
Police in Austria say they have arrested a Czech national who was planning to sell marihuana in the streets of Linz. According to the APA news agency the youth was arrested during a random check of a bus on the Dolni-Dvoriste-Wullowitz crossing. He had no ID and a subsequent search revealed 1.2 kilograms of marihuana in his backpack.
People in the Czech Republic made nearly 62 million calls from their mobile phones on New Year’s Eve, which is an increase by 1.5 percent compared to the previous year. According to data provided by mobile phone operators, Czechs also sent a record number of SMS text messages. Their volume increased by two million to 43.5 million. Mobile operators also registered a significant increase of mobile internet use during New Year’s Eve.
Meteorologists have issued an ice warning for the entire country from Friday afternoon until mid-day Saturday. In view of the start of the skiing season at the country’s mountain resorts traffic police are out in force and drivers have been warned to exercise extreme caution. Conditions on Czech roads are also expected to worsen due to heavy snowfall on Saturday.
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