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Government postpones stand on president’s Moscow visit

The Czech government failed to take a stand on whether President Miloš Zeman’s May trip to Moscow should take place or not and a decision will be put off for another week, prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday. He said ministers were divided over the issue on Wednesday night of whether the head of state should mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Moscow. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been asked in the meantime to ascertain fuller details of the programme. The president’s staff have said that the full programme for the commemoration have not been released. Most EU heads of state and government have said they will stay away from the Moscow event in protest at Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continued intervention in Eastern Ukraine.

PM Sobotka cautions against blocking Moscow visit

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka later said that it would not be to the advantage of the Czech Republic to block the president’s trip to Moscow. Such a move would create a certain scandal and damage the country’s international reputation, he said in answer to parliamentary questions. The prime minister added that it would be an unprecedented move to prevent the head of state’s visit and would unduly complicate relations between constitutional entities. He pointed out that president Miloš Zeman’s visit was not a summit or for negotiations which could compromise the country’s stance over Ukraine.

March yearly inflation climbs to 0.2 percent

Prices in March climbed by 0.2 percent compared with the same month a year earlier and by 0.1 percent compared with February, the Czech Statistics Office announced on Thursday. The year-on-year inflation rate is slightly higher than the 0.1 percentage rate over the last three months. The main factors fuelling price rises in March were transport costs, alcohol, and tobacco. The Czech National Bank is closely following the inflation rate for signs that current very low rates are rising, which could eventually prompt a change in policy.

Seasonal jobs help cut jobless total in March

Unemployment in March fell to 7.2 percent from February’s 7.5 percent. Just over 525,000 were still without jobs after 23,000 were taken off the lists over the month. Jobs opportunities have expanded with the start of seasonal work with vacancies up around 10 percent at around 76,000, the Labour Office said. That still means that there are on average seven jobless people for every vacancy. The drop in unemployment rates took place across the whole country.

Poll: Social Democrats and ANO would win general elections

A poll conducted by the Median Agency suggests that the Social Democrats are closing on the ANO party. According to the survey, both of the parties would win general elections with an equal support of 21.5 percent. The Communist Party would come third with 15 percent of the vote, followed by TOP 09 with 10.5 percent. The Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats would also make it into the lower house, with 8 and 6 percent respectively.

Škoda Auto workers to take action over pay claims

Unions at the Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto have given warning that they will be striking over the continued failure to agree a new pay deal with bosses. The first action will take place on April 15 with a meeting and employees working an hour less than usual. The action will cover all three of the carmaker’s main plants. Management have initially offered a wage increase of 3.0 percent while unions demanded 6.5 percent. They have since moderated their demands slightly. They pay deal for the previous 12 months ended in March.

Constitutional Court rejects Jewish Community restitution claim

The Constitutional Court has rejected claims from the Jewish Community that land confiscated in Brno during WWII be returned under a Holocaust restitution claim. The claims centre on land that was later returned after the war but sold at a disadvantageous price in the 1950s. Police later built an exercise and recreational site on the land. Lower courts had previously found in favour of the Jewish Community and demanded that part of the land be returned. The Constitutional Court ruled however that the case did not come under the laws governing the restitution of property confiscated during the Holocaust because the land had been returned but was later sold. The Jewish Community said the sale had been forced and the price paid was eroded due to the currency devaluation that followed a few years later. The Municipal Court will now have to deal with the claim again after taking the Constitutional Court’s comments on board.

Monaco’s Albert II accepts visit for Charles IV commemoration

Monaco’s crown prince Albert II has accepted an invitation to attend the ceremonies to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV next year. Albert is currently on a visit to Prague, the first by Monaco’s head of state, accompanied by a large business delegation. Invitations to the commemoration for Charles IV have already been accepted by the King of Spain and Archduke of Luxembourg. President Miloš Zeman let slip in a press conference after the prince’s visit that as a boy he fell platonically in love with the Albert’s mother, Grace Kelly, after seeing a film in which she starred.

Hradec Králové tops list of safe cities

Hradec Králové, Olomouc, and Ústí nad Labem are the safest cities in the country according to an index based on fatal and serious road accidents over the last year. Hradec Králové comes first in the index for the first time in its 11 year history. Prague comes fifth in the ranking with České Budějovice the worst performer. Regional towns are topped by a number of locations such as Rokycany and Svitavy which went through the year without any serious accidents at all, according to the results of the ČP Index. Generally, those towns and cities which benefitted from a bypass or ring road performed best in the ranking. The ranking is based on the number of serious accidents compared with the overall population.

Czech doctors first in history to use special pump in treating acute heart failure

Doctors from the Prague-based Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) have been the first in the world to use a special heart pump to save the life of a patient with an acute heart failure, IKEM spokesman Veronika Velčová told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. Since January, four patients at IKEM were treated this way. The PHP HeartMate pump, induced directly into the heart through vessels in the groin, can replace the heart's function for 72 hours giving doctors a chance to decide about the best possible treatment.