Czech Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec has said that more than a thousand new applications have been received from ethnic Czechs living in Ukraine to move back to the Czech Republic. The minister told Czech Radio that based on previous experience the applications would be dealt with within two years and around half the applications would be accepted. Applications from Eastern Ukraine, where the conflict between separatists and the government is at its worst, have been prioritized, he said. Minister Chovanec and prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Wednesday visited a facility which is temporary housing around 80 of the first wave of Ukrainian Czechs who have returned to the country. The Czech community in Ukraine was mostly established in the nineteenth century when farm workers and craftsmen sought out new opportunities there.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met with the Vice-President of the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič in Prague on Thursday. On the agenda of their meeting, which was also attended by Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek, was the role of the Energy Union, which was approved by an EU summit in March, as well as the upcoming Czech presidency of the Visegrad group. Mr Sobotka said after the meeting that the Energy Union will bring the country greater safety and reliability of energy supplies as well as a better interconnection and capacity of the network.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Thursday approved the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU in a first reading, despite opposition from the Dawn party and the Communists. The Foreign and European Affairs Committees now have 40 days to discuss the pact before the final approval process. The Czech Senate ratified the Association Agreement in December last year.
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Jana Černá and Miroslav Šoška, who were sentenced to six years in prison for stealing a 30 million crown winning lottery ticket from a homeless man. Under the verdict, the couple is also required to return most of the money to the homeless man. František Václavek hit the jackpot in 2010 with a random choice, but Ms Černá tricked him into handing over the ticket, claimed the money and together with Mr Šoška bought a luxury house in Prague’s district of Klánovice.
Bavaria will contribute to the modernizing of railway connection between Prague and Munich via Plzeň, Domažlice and Furth im Wald. The Bavarian National Assembly has already released six million euros (Some 165 million crowns) for the preparation works. The Bavarian State Minister of the Interior, Building and Transport, Joachim Herrmann, announced the news on Thursday at a press conference in Prague after meeting with his Czech counterpart Dan Ťok. The ministers agreed to apply for European funds for this joint project. There is currently a single track, non-electrified connection between Prague and Munich and the journey takes about six hours. The improvement should cut the journey time to four hours and 30 minutes.
The Czech ministries of finance and culture have promised to support the reconstruction of the Imperial Spa in Karlovy Vary with the amount of 100 million crowns. The Pseudo-Renaissance spa building from the 19th century, which has been declared the National Cultural Monument, had to be closed down in 1994. The costs of the reconstruction, which is estimated at 600 million crowns, will be shared by the state and the town and region of Karlovy Vary. The local authorities are also hoping to receive additional finances from European funds.
The Czech basketball federation on Thursday announced its plan to host the women’s European Championship in 2017 in Prague and Hradec Králové. According to the general secretary of the federation, they have already filed the application with the European association. The championship’s organizer should be selected by the end of June. The result will be announced at the end of this year’s European Championship being staged in Budapest, Hungary, in June.
The Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has reached the semi-finals at the Miami Masters. Berdych advanced to the next round on Wednesday after a 6-3, 6-4 win over Juan Mońaco of Argentina. The number eight-seeded Czech will face UK’s Andy Murray for a place in the final. The 29-year-old Czech has reached the semi-finals in Miami for the fourth time in his career.
In the ice hockey play-off semi-finals, Sparta Prague turned around their losing run against Třinec on Wednesday night. Sparta led throughout and eventually won 4:1 to close the best of seven series 1:2. The duel continues Thursday night with Sparta seeking to again benefit from home advantage and tie the series 2:2. Sparta’s Jaroslav Hlinka and Robert Sabolič each scored twice in front of the over 10,000 spectators. The match ended with a series of bad tempered brawls.
The mountain rescue service in Jeseníky Mountains has called a third degree avalanche alert on a five point scale. Strong wind and up to thirty centimetres of fresh snow over the past couple of days are reported to have created a highly unstable surface on many slopes. Snowfall is expected to last across most of the country until Thursday midnight. Drivers have been warned to expect snow drifts in the higher altitudes and on less frequented roads.
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