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BIS counter-intelligence service uncovers three Russian spies in Prague

The BIS counter-intelligence service has recently uncovered three Russian spies operating in Prague, the weekly Respekt reported on Thursday, citing official sources. One of the men was allegedly an employee of the Russian embassy in Prague. The Czech authorities have not expelled them to avoid escalating tension, but they didn’t renew their visas and residence permits. According to Respect, Moscow retaliated against the Czech Republic by denying two Czech diplomats visa renewal and access to the country.

President Zeman says he expects Jiří Rusnok to be next central bank governor

Czech President Miloš Zeman has said he will in all likelihood nominate former finance minister and caretaker prime minister Jiří Rusnok to be governor of the Czech National Bank when incumbent Miroslav Singer steps down. Zeman made the comments in an interview with the Czech daily Mladá Fronta Dnes. Singer’s mandate finishes in one year, Rusnok was Zeman’s first appointment to the Czech central bank when he was placed on the board in March last year. The president has previously said he want a new governor who will reverse the current low crown policy and will back early Czech adoption of the euro.

EUObserver: Zeman the only head of state to attend WWII parade in Moscow

The Czech president is the only EU head of state to have confirmed attendance at a WWII memorial parade in Moscow on 9 May, the website EUObserver.com reported on Thursday, adding that the Czech head of state is a sympathiser of Vladimir Putin. The German chancellor Angela Merkel has declined Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend the event marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis due to tensions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. According to EUObserver, other EU states to boycott the event include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. US president Barack Obama has also said he won’t be attending.

Poll: over 50 percent of Czechs happy with democracy in Czech Republic

More than 50 percent of Czechs are happy with the way democracy is working in the Czech Republic, according to a poll by the CVVM agency published on Thursday. Fifty-five percent of respondents said democracy was the best form of government, which is a seven-percent rise on the last survey, carried out in October 2014. Only 41 percent of Czechs said they were unhappy with the way democracy was operating in the country, which is the lowest figure in the history of the measuring.

Zeman appoints new Minister of Justice

President Miloš Zeman on Thursday appointed Robert Pelikán minister of justice. The ANO candidate, who served as first deputy, replaces Helena Válková, who resigned several weeks ago after coming under pressure to quit from her own party. She was criticised for not being able to fulfil the government’s legislative plan on time as well as a poor personnel policy.

Škoda Autos’s operating profit up by nearly 57 percent year-on-year

The operating profit of the biggest Czech car-maker Škoda Auto increased by 56.6 percent to 817 million euros last year, the German concern Volkswagen announced in its annual report, published on Thursday. Škoda Auto’s sales last year increased by 13.9 percent to 11.76 billion year-on-year. The Czech car-maker previously announced that its 2014 sales increased by 12.7 percent to 1.037 million units, exceeding the one million level for the first time in history. A total of 281,400 cars were sold at the company’s largest market in China. Sales also went up in Central and Eastern Europe.

Two homeless killed by fire in Prague

A fire in a disused warehouse at Prague’s district of Malešice killed two people on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Prague fire service told the Czech News Agency. The fire was signalled soon after midnight and firemen managed to evacuate seven people out of the object. Two bodies were found later after the fire was extinguished. The cause of the fire is being investigated. According to the police it was probably caused by negligence, but they didn’t rule out the possibility that it was set on intentionally.

Quad chairlift ramp collapsed in Špindlerův Mlýn

The ramp of a quad chairlift in the country’s biggest skiing centre in Špindlerův Mlýn in the Krkonoše Mountains collapsed on Thursday. No one was hurt in the incident, since the chairlift operators noticed cracking sounds coming from the building, where the ramp was located, and managed to evacuate people from the site before it collapsed. The operation of the chairlift has been suspended and the cause of the accident is being investigated.

Czech football squad 16th in FIFA rankings

The Czech national football squad has reached the 16th spot in FIFA rankings. It is the best placing for the Czech national team since October 2009, when it was 15th. The Czech team, led by coach Pavel Vrba, has been steadily climbing up the rankings since the start of the Euro qualification in September 2014. They next face Latvia in qualification for the European Championship.

Gabriela Soukalová takes silver at biathlon world championships

Czech Gabriela Soukalová took the silver medal in the world championship 15 kilometre biathlon event at Kontiolahti, Finland. Soukalová had appeared destined for gold but was beaten by just over 23 seconds by Russia’s Ekaterina Yurlova. She recorded a perfect score with the rifle compared with Soukalová’s one minute penalty. The second place is still an achievement for the Czech, who has taken most of her recent medals in relay events. Soukalová has been feeling slightly ill before the event and said she did not expect to be on the winner’s podium at all.