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18-02-2015

Confusion after Zeman announces plans for Czech Army field hospital in Jordan for Syrian refugees

The Czech Army is unaware of plans announced by President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday for a Czech field hospital for Syrian refugees to be established in Jordan. Mr. Zeman said the deployment of the field hospital had been agreed at a meeting at Prague Castle attended by senior officials, including Defence Minister Martin Stropnický. However, a senior Czech Army spokesperson said it knew nothing about the deployment, which does not figure in an approved army mandate for this year and 2016. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who was also at the Prague Castle meeting, said Mr. Stropnický had been asked to look into the possibility of such a field hospital and that further discussions on the matter were planned.

Zeman says he will not appoint central bank board members who favour devaluation

President Miloš Zeman says he will not appoint people who are in favour of devaluing the Czech crown to the board of the Czech National Bank. Speaking on Wednesday, he said he would, however, name board members who back the Czech Republic’s adoption of the euro. Mr. Zeman reiterated his belief that the central bank had intervened to weaken the crown in order to stave off accession to the eurozone as this would reduce their powers. He is due to appoint four of the seven members of the board of the CNB, including a governor, during his term as head of state.

Czech humanitarian convoy arrives in Kiev

A Czech humanitarian aid convoy, organized by the Czech government, the Czech Red Cross and the NGO People in Need, arrived in Kiev in the early hours of Wednesday. Four trucks, an ambulance, and support vehicles transported medical supplies, blankets and other equipment for the people displaced from their homes by the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists. The supplies will be unloaded in the course of the day and subsequently distributed in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine, such as Mariupol and Odessa. The convoy is expected to return to the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Price of yearly pass for Prague transport system to fall markedly

The price of a yearly pass for Prague’s public transport system is set to fall considerably after the city council approved a proposal put forward by the Green Party and the Three-party Coalition. From July a yearly ticket will cost CZK 3,650, down from the current price of CZK 4,750. To make up for the difference, the city will boost its subsidies for the transport system by up to CZK 400 million a year. The move is aimed at encouraging residents to use Prague’s buses, trams and metro trains rather than drive into the centre.

Interest rates reach fresh low in January

Interest rates in the Czech Republic have again reached a record low. In January the average mortgage rate was 2.34 percent, down from 2.37 percent in the last month of 2014, according to a regular index produced by market analysts Fincentrum, who have been mapping average interest rates without regard to fixed-rate period since 2003. A representative of Fincentrum said they did not expect the current low level to persist for long.

Škoda Auto expecting sales increase with launch of new Superb

Carmaker Škoda Auto has unveiled a new model of its Superb line, which will go on sale in June. Two previous versions of the Superb have achieved total sales of 700,000 since 2001. Speaking to journalists from around the world at the launch of the latest model in Prague’s Karlín on Tuesday, Škoda Auto CEO Winfried Vahland said the company expected its flagship car to achieve sales 25 percent higher than its predecessors. A high-end model of the new Superb will be named Laurin&Klement, a nod to the founders of the firm that later became Škoda Auto.

Police to ask prosecutor to file six charges of murder against former nurse

The police are preparing to ask the state prosecutor to file murder charges against former nurse Věra Marešová over the deaths of six patients at a hospital in the small North Bohemian town of Rumburk. Investigators had been looking into 11 deaths at the facility. It was reported in September last year that the nurse may have committed a mercy killing by giving an elderly patient an overdose of potassium, sparking a debate on euthenasia. However, that theory was soon ruled out and the investigation was widened.

Germans complain about unpleasant smell from Czech factories

Germans living close the Czech border are complaining about an unpleasant smell from Czech factories that is allegedly causing them health problems, such as headaches, diarrhoea and nose bleeding. The inhabitants on the German side of Krušné Hory say the chemical factories in the Most and Litvínov area produce an odour reminiscent of a cat smell. The Czech Environmental Inspectorate has received 13 complaints this year from the inhabitants of the affected villages. The German environment minister is scheduled to discuss the matter with his Czech counterpart in Prague next week.

Map in cell leads police to money stolen from murder victim

Police say a map found in the cell of a man appealing a murder conviction led them to money stolen from the murder victim, iDnes.cz reported. Tens of thousands of crowns were stolen from the home of an elderly man in the village of Kamýk in central Bohemia at the time of his murder last year. Local man Michal Čámský received an 18-year sentence for the murder in January but has appealed the verdict. Police say Mr. Čámský planned to hand the map to somebody paying him a visit in prison.

Plans announced for 2015 One World festival of human rights docs

Plans have been announced for this year’s One World international festival of human rights documentaries, which gets underway in Prague on March 2 and then travels on in reduced form to over 30 other Czech cities and towns. Among the highlights will be the first Czech screening of Citizenfour, about Edward Snowden, and The Look of Silence, in which Joshua Oppenheimer documents the victims of mass killings in Indonesia covered in his multi-award winning The Act of Killing.

18-02-2015