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Justice minister Válková to stand down by start of March

The minister of justice, Helena Válková, is to step down by the start of next month. The leader of her ANO party, Andrej Babiš, made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Babiš had put pressure on Ms. Válková to quit and said he was surprised she had not informed President Miloš Zeman she was leaving the post when she met him on Monday. Mr. Babiš is proposing Deputy Justice Minister Robert Pelikán as her replacement.

Dawn MPs vote to set up new party, side-lining Okamura

In what appears to be a move to side-line leader Tomio Okamura, the MPs and leadership of the populist opposition grouping Dawn have decided to set up a new political party. It will “defend national interests” and aims to work with other groups such as France’s far-right National Front. Ten of Dawn’s 12 MPs voted for the change at a meeting on Tuesday. The daily Právo reported that the move was initiated by Marek Černoch, who recently became head of its deputies group. Mr. Okamura has described the situation as a power grab and an attempt to destroy Dawn.

Czech president begins visit to Middle East

Czech President Miloš Zeman travelled to Amman, Jordan, on Monday evening, part of an official visit that will also include a stop in the United Arab Emirates. The head-of-state is scheduled to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who he will present with the Order of the White Lion, the Czech Republic’s highest honour, recognising relations between the Czech Republic and Jordan and the latter country’s fight against terrorism. President Zeman will stay in Jordan until Wednesday and then fly to the United Arab Emirates, where he will be received by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Sobotka: Prague will keep pressure on Norway over boys in care

The Czech Republic will continue to put diplomatic pressure on Norway in connection with the case of two Czech brothers who were taken into care in the country, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told their mother Eva Michaláková in a meeting on Tuesday. A children’s welfare official from Brno is due to visit Norway in the coming days to discuss extending the mother’s visiting rights and to ensure the boys receive Czech lessons. He will also relay a Czech pledge to monitor the boys’ welfare if they are returned to the Czech Republic. They were taken into care in 2011 on suspicion that they were being sexually abused.

Tuesday 40th anniversary of opening of Prague’s Kotva department store

Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Kotva department store in downtown Prague. It was one of the first such outlets in the city and its opening was a major event in 1975. The Brutalist building, which stands where Náměstí Republiky meets Revoluční St., was designed by the husband and wife team of architects Vladimir and Věra Machonin; the pair were also behind the Hotel Thermal in Karlovy Vary and the Czechoslovak Embassy in then East Berlin.

Ministry comes out against demolition of building on Wenceslas Square

The Ministry of Culture has for the first time come out against plans to demolish a building on the corner of Wenceslas Square and Opletalová St. in central Prague. Czech Television reported that it had issued a binding opinion that knocking down the building, which dates from 1880, would be unacceptable from the perspective of monument preservation. The ministry made the move as part of an appeal process launched by preservationists against a decision to allow its demolition taken by City Hall in 2010.

Average Czech marriage lasts 13 years, say statisticians

Almost half the marriages in the Czech Republic fail, with the average union lasting for 13 years, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office. Czech marriages most frequently end after three to five years but in recent years there has been a rise in the number of couples getting divorced after over a quarter century together. However, there has been a declining trend in the number of divorces, which fell from 31,000 in 2005 to 28,000 in 2013.

Tickets on sale for first Under 21 Euro to be held in Czech Republic

Tickets have gone on sale for soccer’s European Under 21 Championship, which will take place for the first time in the Czech Republic in the second half of June. The cheapest tickets for group games are set to go for CZK 100, while the most expensive tickets for the final will cost CZK 350. The games will be held at Prague’s Eden and Letná stadia, in Olomouc and in Uherské Hradiště. Alongside the hosts, seven other nations will be taking part.