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Jobless rate climbs to 7.5 percent in December

Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose in December to 7.5 percent with almost 542,000 registered as job seekers, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced on Friday. November’s jobless rate stood at 7.1 percent. Even so, the latest figure is still a drop from the 8.2 percent unemployment rate at the end of 2013. The country’s worst jobless blackspots is now Bruntál in the far east of the country with 13.5 percent unemployment. It replaced Most which now has an unemployment rate of 12.8 percent.

Hundreds of people gather in Prague and Brno to support victims of terrorist attack in France

Some 300 people gathered outside the French embassy in Prague on Thursday evening to express their solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday. People were bringing flowers and pencils, as well as carrying signs saying “Je suis Charlie” to show their support for freedom of speech. Another 200 people attended a march organised by Young Social Democrats in memory of the victims. A gathering was also held in the centre of Brno.

Thousands of Czechs pledge to eat kebab in support of Muslim community

Some 14,000 Czechs have joined the Facebook initiative in support of the country’s Muslim community, making a pledge to eat a kebab on Friday. The “Kebab Against Idiocy” event came as a reaction to the recent statement of senator Tomio Okamura of the Dawn Party, who said that “every kebab purchased was another step towards burqas,” encouraging his followers to insult Muslims. The populist Czech –Japanese politician wrote on his Facebook page that Czechs should protect their democratic way of life from Islam.

Czech interior minister says security on stepped on alert

Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec has said that the country’s security services are on stepped up alert in case some of the attackers who targeted a French satirical magazine try to flee the country. Chovanec said that increased attention is being paid to who comes into the Czech Republic from the area. There are no specific indications of a threat, he added. The latest comments contrast with Chovanec’s reaction immediately following Wednesday’s attack in Paris, when 12 people were killed. He said then that there was no need for stepped up security.

Presidential chancellor only at start of security vetting says paper

Embattled presidential chancellor Vratislav Mlynář only delivered the last documents required for the domestic security service to start checking whether he could be cleared to see top secret material at the end of 2014, the daily newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Friday. That means he completed his part of the process a year after the first application was lodged, the paper pointed out. It said that President Miloš Zeman was under the impression that the security vetting was well under way and not that it had just started. Mlynář is currently under fire for his purchase of a Prague villa at a fraction of its expected market price from a lawyer linked with shady personalities straddling the business and political worlds.

Police weapons amnesty nets over 5,700 items

A police amnesty on illegal arms resulted in 5,744 weapons and almost 570,000 bullets and other munitions being turned in last year, police have announced. Most of the weapons were small arms, such as revolvers and pistols. The total is down on the almost 7,900 weapons handed in last time the amnesty was staged in 2009 but more than the hauls from the previous amnesties in 2003 and 1996.

Forecasters warn of high winds and flooding risk

The Czech weather office has warned of high winds of up to 125 kilometres an hour and downpours across most of Bohemia on Saturday. The forecasters have warned that river levels across the country are likely to rise rapidly with the biggest threat of flooding focused on the Úhlava river near Klatovy in the west of the country.

Petr Čech cleared by Chelsea to leave in summer: reports

Czech and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech has been told that he can leave the London club in the summer, according to reports by British newspapers. Chelsea, which hitherto refused to countenance Čech’s transfer, has now come round to the idea, papers report. Arsenal is widely tipped to be the frontrunner to capture Čech’s services next season with manager Arséne Wenger said to be willing to make a bid of up to seven million pounds. Čech is also said to be keen to stay on in London. A question mark over the Czech goalkeeper’s future at Chelsea emerged at the start of the season when Belgian ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois replaced him as the first choice in Premier League games. Čech has since then made only sporadic first team appearances, mainly in FA Cup encounters for Chelsea.

Czech tennis players defeated in semi-finals

Czech women tennis players Petra Kvítová and Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová have failed to progress into the finals of the Shenzen and Auckland tournaments. Kvítová went down in straight sets 4:6, 4:6, to Switzerland’s Timea Basczinska in the semifinals. After winning the first set 6:4. Záhlavová-Strýcová lost the next 3:6, 4:6 to Danish former world number one Caroline Wozniacki. Kvítová is now heading for Australia and the first Grand Slam of the new year.

Řiha father and son head top Czech ice hockey team

A father and son management duo will for the first time lead a top Czech ice hockey club into action on Friday night. Miloš Řiha was appointed manager of Pardubice mid-week and the 56-year-old appointed his son, also called Miloš, as assistant. Pardubice, in seventh place in the league, host on Sparta Prague, in third, at their home arena.