The defence and security committee of the lower house of the Czech Parliament has approved lawyer Pavel Kříž as the head of the Czech Military Police. The 37-year-old lawyer was nominated for the post by Defence Minister Martin Stropnický. However, former Chief of the General Staff of the Army, Petr Pavel, was against the appointment, arguing that it would breach the common career ladder. Other opponents also said he was too young for the post and lacked combat experience. The current head of the military police, Milan Schulc, is set to get a post abroad.
Several thousand people, including war veterans and politicians, attended an event in Pilsen on Wednesday night marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the West Bohemian city at the end of WWII by General Patton’s Army. The gathering, held at the Thanks, America! monument was a culmination of the five-day Freedom Celebrations. This year’s celebrations were the biggest in 25 years, and included dozens of cultural events, re-enactments of battles and military parades.
The Council of Czech Television has rejected a complaint alleging impartiality lodged by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš’s company Agrofert. The firm said reports in the investigative programme Reportéři ČT had contained unsubstantiated information aimed at suggesting a conflict of interest on Mr. Babiš’s part. The council ruled that the show’s makers had not contravened the station’s code of conduct.
The Czech Minister of Interior, Milan Chovanec, has asked the police president to explain the circumstances of Wednesday’s raid on the Cibulka squat in Prague. The Minister wants to know if the intervention was adequate, and why it involved police in riot gear. Police on Wednesday detained ten squatters who had ignored their calls to vacate the former farmhouse. Three squatters suffered mild injuries during the incident and had to be taken to hospital. Minister Chovanec would like to see changes in legislature that would enable police to tolerate squatting in buildings that are not looked after by their owners. The head of Prague police, Luděk Procházka, told journalists on Thursday that the intervention was carried out in accordance with law.
Prague’s Czernin Palace, the seat of the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is holding an open day on Friday, which is the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe and a state holiday in the Czech Republic. Visitors will have an opportunity to view the interior of the palace, including the apartment of former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jan Masaryk, who tragically died there in 1948. The Open Day will also feature an exhibition of WWII photos by Ladislav Sitenský. The palace will be open between 9 AM and 5 PM. The building’s gardens will host a concert by Czech Philharmonic Jazz Band, starting at 3 PM. The Czernin Palace is one of the biggest Baroque buildings in the Czech Republic and has served the Czech Foreign Ministry since 1930s.
The Czech National Bank has decided to continue intervening against the Czech crown to keep the exchange rate at around 27 crowns per euro, the bank’s spokesman Tomáš Zimmerman said after a meeting of the bank board on Thursday. The bank will also leave interest rates unchanged at all-time lows. The base interest rate is 0.05 percent. The Czech National Bank launched currency interventions in November 2013 to head off the danger of deflation and weakened economic growth.
Czech state controlled electricity producer CEZ announced Thursday it will not make a firm bid for the majority stake in Slovakia’s dominant electricity company, Slovenské Elektrárne, held by Italian power company ENEL. CEZ added that is willing to discuss with both the Slovak government and ENEL ways to cooperate in the development of the Slovak energy sector. CEZ initially appeared keen to bid because of the synergies with its Slovak peer and the fact that the Czech and Slovak power grids are closely connected from the era of the former Czechoslovakia. But CEZ managers later expressed concern about the rising costs and continually postponed deadline for the completion of the Mochovce 3 and 4 nuclear reactors and the possibility of fraught relations with a Slovak government keen to regain control of the electricity producer.
Czech industrial production rose in the first quarter of 2015 by 4.6 percent year-on-year, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Thursday. The rise in industrial production accelerated from 4.5 percent in February to 6.2 percent in March. Industrial turnover as a whole rose by 4.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, while the turnover from industrial exports climbed by 6.7 percent. The number of people employed in industry has also gone up slightly, along with their average gross wages.
The eighth annual Czech Beer Festival gets underway in Prague on Thursday. Over 150 Czech-produced draft beers will be served during the 17-day event, which this year takes place on a 4,000 square metre area at the city’s Letná Plain. The festival has a capacity of 4,000, organisers say.
The sixth World Championship in Historical Medieval Battles has got underway in Prague. The so-called Battle of Nations started with a march of nearly 200 fighters from more than 30 countries outside Prague Castle on Thursday morning. The individual competitions will take place on Prague’s Petřín Hill. The event will last until May 10.
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