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Poll: majority of Czechs have no problem with US convoy

A new poll conducted by the STEM agency suggests that a vast majority of Czechs have no issue with a US military convoy passing through Czech territory in the coming days on a return journey from the Baltics. According to the poll, 82 percent of respondents said they were fine with the transfer, while 17 percent said they were against. The convoy of 118 armored vehicles and around 500 personnel is returning to a military base in Germany. The US forces took part in a NATO show of strength and unity in the Baltic states entitled Atlantic Resolve, to reassure members of their continuing commitment to stability in Europe in the face of Russian intervention in Ukraine. The convoy will travel through the Czech Republic between March 29 and April 1.

Controversial French politician Le Pen to take part in Prague conference, says aide

Controversial far-right French politician Marine Le Pen is scheduled to take part in a conference in Prague on April 23, an aide to the National Front leader revealed. The conference, called by Dawn Party MP Radim Fiala and former Civic Democratic MP Jiří Janeček, is to examine issues of peace and prosperity in the EU. Janećek is now a member of the non-parliamentary Civic Conservative Party. The aide to Ms Le Pen, Ludovic de Danne, said they were looking for viable partners for cooperation in the Czech Republic. Members of the troubled Dawn Party, who ousted their own leader Tomio Okamura and Mr Fiala as deputies’ club leader, indicated earlier they too wanted to revamp the party along the lines of the Front National. The party has long taken a hardline stance on immigration policy.

Culture Ministry confirms fine for placement of winged lion memorial

The Culture Ministry has confirmed that the district of Prague 1 faces a 150,000 crown fine for the installation last year, at Klárov Park, of a bronze winged lion – a memorial to Czechoslovak airmen who fought with the RAF in World War II. The local administration failed to obtain the necessary permission from heritage conservationists, ČTK said. The winged lion was unveiled last June. Opponents had charged the memorial clashed with another already sited at the park. The National Heritage Institute later decreed the memorial could stay. The fine issued is on the lower end of the scale (which goes up to two million), the spokeswoman for the Culture Ministry said. The decision can be appealed.

Czech National Bank leaves interest rates, low crown target unchanged

The Czech National Bank (ČNB) kept two of its main economic instruments unchanged on Thursday. The main interest rate, the two-week repo rate was maintained at 0.05%. The central bank also said that it would be keeping to its 27 crowns or lower exchange rate target against the single currency euro. That means that the bank is committed to intervening on the currency markets if the crown strengthens beyond that target. The controversial target has been in place since November 2013. Inflation would have to rise to near 2.0 percent and interest rates rise before the bank could realistically quit the low crown policy.

Prague districts to receive 400 million crowns from City Hall

Prague districts will receive 400 million crowns from City Hall, Prague City councilors agreed in a vote on Thursday. Most of the funds, 358 million, are slotted for the education sector. Schools are most likely to use the funding to renovate rooms, complete additional classrooms or improve the capacity of school cafeterias. Earlier, City Hall wanted to draw 300 million in reserve funds.

Three former prison guards sentenced to 2.5 to four years in jail

Three former prison guards at a facility in Ostrava have been sentenced to 2.5 to four years in jail for stealing copper from a workshop within the prison. The copper is estimated as being worth 500,000 crowns. Three others involved in the theft were given suspended sentences. In all eleven people, including scrap metal yard owners, faced charges. Five were cleared of wrongdoing.

Museum of Eastern Bloc cars to open next month

A museum centred on cars produced in the former Eastern Bloc is set to open at Strnadice in Central Bohemia in the middle of April. The RetroAutoMuzeum will contain around 100 cars made between 1948 and 1989, from Škodas, Trabants and Ladas to lesser known marques. Among the exponents will be a Škoda 120L driven by future prime minister and president Václav Klaus in the late 1980s.

Camera trap captures shot of wild wolf in Šumava

A new photo from a camera trap is the first piece of evidence proving the presence of a wild wolf in the Šumava mountains, southwest Bohemia, the ALKA Wildlife group has written on Facebook. The photo shows a male wolf strolling along the right bank of the Lipno reservoir near the Loučovice village. The camera photographed the animal at a remote spot between the reservoir dam and the Austrian border. "This is for the first time a camera photographed a wild wolf, not one escaping from captivity." Tereza Minaříková, from ALKA Wildlife, told the Czech News Agency. She added the group had discussed the photo with our partners in the region and also experts in Saxony, Bavaria and Italy. Experts believe that the photographed wolf is a lonely migrating male. In early February, a migrating wolf was photographed in the nearby Weinviertel area, on the Austrian side. In March, another one was photographed in the Bavarian border zone, also adjacent to Šumava.

Football: Lafata will have to explain dive in key match

Sparta Prague striker David Lafata will have to answer to the Czech FA's disciplinary committee after admitting he dived in a match against opponents Teplice at the weekend, resulting in a converted penalty. Sparta won the match 1:0. Lafata admitted to diving in the press, saying he was not proud of his actions but that they were partly the result of having a legitimate goal earlier in the match disallowed after he was mistakenly ruled offside. The player could potentially be fined or could receive a short ban.

Vaidišová wins first WTA match since starting comeback

Former tennis star Nicole Vaidišová has won her first match on the WTA tour since beginning a comeback six months ago. The one-time world number seven beat Timea Babos of Hungary 6-1 7-6 at the prestigious Miami Open for her first WTA victory in five years. Vaidišová – who turns 26 next month – quit playing in 2010 after tumbling down the world rankings. The Czech faces world number three Simona Halep of Romania in the second round in Miami.