Czech politicians have strongly condemned a terrorist attack in Paris on Wednesday which left 12 people dead. Gunmen opened fire at the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The magazine last tweeted a cartoon satirizing the leader of the extremist group Islamic State. According to the BBC and video released, the gunmen shouted "Allahu akbar!" during the attack. In the Czech Republic, President Miloš Zeman sent his condolences to French counterpart Francois Hollande and condemned the “blood-soaked crime”, calling it an attack against the freedom of speech and values upon which European society is based. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka also condemned the attack and said it was a reminder of the need to continue international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek expressed solidarity with the people of France and said it was necessary to fight the growing wave of terrorism and hatred.
The country’s counter-intelligence service BIS has said the Czech Republic is not in immediate danger from a terrorist attack like the one took place in Paris on Wednesday killing at least 12 people. The spokesman for BIS, Jan Šubrt, said there had been no such indications from domestic or foreign partners; at the same time, he said, no threat could ever be fully ruled out, as the Czech Republic is part of a coalition helping fight radical militants abroad. The country, he stressed, was also a member of NATO and an ally of the United States. The spokesman made clear BIS is reviving ties with partners abroad on a daily basis, saying cooperation was crucial. He said the agency was monitoring if radicals who had fought abroad ever entered onto Czech soil.
The extreme far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice called for the dissolution of Islamic organisations in the Czech Republic in reaction to the terrorist attack in Paris on Wednesday which saw 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo die. The far-right party said the attack by fanatics was the result of policies by European leaders, which in its members’ views, allowed Islamic ideology in Europe. Besides calling on the government to take steps to dissolve two Muslim associations in the Czech Republic, the marginal party also called for a stricter immigration policy that would prevent an increase in the number of Muslims in the country. Recently, the head of one of the opposition parties in the lower house called on Czechs to boycott Muslim businesses and provoke local Muslims by walking pigs and dogs in the vicinity of mosques.
The head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker will not be attending a planned ceremony in Prague and Terezín marking the 70th anniversary of liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in neighboring Poland as previously reported. The news was revealed by Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Rudolf Jindrák on Wednesday; even so, official word has not been received yet. The event will instead be attended deputy EC head Frans Timmermans as well as the Czech European Commissioner Věra Jourová. Earlier, the presidents of the US and Russia also received invitations as did other heads-of-state; President Barack Obama has already responded saying he regretted not being able to attend.
The city of Prague has been handed an 11 million crown fine by the country’s anti-monopoly bureau in the case of a recently opened bridge in Troja built as part of the city’s extensive Blanka tunnel complex. The city was penalized for not sticking to an original design plan, which came with a less than half-a-billion crown price tag and not the 1.3 billion the bridge eventually cost. The original design was meant to be revised under the administration of former mayor Pavel Bém but was not. The decision is not binding and City Hall has already said it will appeal. The anti-monopoly office is also investigating other aspects of the Blanka Tunnel project.
Over 1.2 million cars were produced in the Czech Republic last year, which is a record. That represents a jump of at least 6 percent on the figure for 2013. The preliminary figures were announced by the director of the Automotive Industry Association, Antonín Šípek. Previously 2011 was the record year for production in the Czech Republic, with 1.195 million cars. The largest producer Škoda Auto accounted for 59 percent of last year’s output. Hyundai accounted for a quarter of production while the rest came from TPCA.
The arms and military equipment manufacturer Česká zbrojovka has won a tender to provide the Czech Army with 2,300 bullet-proof vests, according to Czech daily Lidové noviny. After final testing is completed, the firm will deliver the items in two waves by November at the latest. The Defence Ministry will pay 68 million crowns for the equipment as opposed to an earlier projection of 171 million. In all, six firms took part in the tender: two were excluded and have filed complaints with the country’s anti-monopoly office.
The power producer ČEZ this year will apply for a new ten-year licence for the operation of the first unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant. The current licence is valid only until the end of 2015. The utility will have to gain the licences for the further operation of the remaining three units in the years 2016 and 2017. Dukovany provides one-fifth of domestic electricity consumption. In the application for the licence, the power plant has to prove to the State Nuclear Safety Authority (SUJB) that it complies with the tougher safety requirements set after the disaster in nuclear power plant Fukushima, Japan, the new head of the Dukovany plant, Miloš Štepanovský, told the Czech News Agency.
Influential businessman Roman Janoušek has petitioned to be conditionally released for prison on health grounds, the newspaper Právo reported. Mr. Janoušek is serving a term of four and a half years for hit and run. His plea will be considered by the Regional Court in Brno, Právo said. His lawyers have said in the past that he is suffering from health problems after a brain operation and requires further surgery. Mr. Janoušek’s hit and run incident came in 2012, days after a daily published wiretaps suggesting he wielded considerable power behind the scenes in Prague politics.
Czech police have charged 45-year-old convict Jan Novák, already serving a seven-and-a-half-year-long sentence for his role in a violent robbery, in connection with a recent escape while awaiting a procedure at a Prague hospital. Novák was due to face tests for a serious illness at the facility in Krč, but escaped by jumping from a second-story window. He was recaptured after three weeks on the run after he was spotted on a bus. If found guilty, the convict could face a sentence of five years; he also faces an additional 8.5 years for a robbery he committed when he was released on probation earlier.
The nominations have been announced for the fifth annual Czech Film Critics’ Awards to be presented on January 24 at Prague’s Archa Theatre. Director Petr Václav’s Cesta ven received the most nominations at six, while actor Jiří Mádl’s directorial debut Pojedeme k moři received five. Andrea Sedláčková’s Fair Play (a film about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport in the former Czechoslovakia) received four. All three of the titles are in the running for the main awards: Best Screenplay, Best Directing and Best Film.
The country’s oldest citizen, Vlastimila Češková of Jarcová near Vsetín, has passed away at the age of 109, the website Deník.cz reports, based on confirmation from her family. Mrs Češková was born on March 2, 1905, in Mikulůvka. She was born into a family of teachers, a profession she also later took up. She was a grandmother to five and a great-grandmother to 12 great-grandchildren.
New Jersey’s Patrik Eliáš clinched his 1,000th point on Tuesday evening, scoring against Buffalo. He became only the second Czech hockey player to ever reach the milestone, after Jaromír Jágr, who is on 1780 points. In terms of how his points break down, Eliáš has amassed 399 goals and 601 assists over the course of his career in the NHL.
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