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Prime minister rejects Zeman suggestion EU sanctions against Russia could be lifted by year’s end

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has joined other Czech politicians who questioned a prediction by the Czech president that Western sanctions against Russia could be lifted by the end of the year. President Miloš Zeman has long opposed the sanctions, often citing the alleged ineffectiveness of similar measures against Cuba. Prime Minister Sobotka made clear, in his view, the suggestion was unrealistic as the Minsk Protocol pertaining to Ukraine was not being met. The prime minister also said that the president’s suggestion that Russia could join the EU within 20 years was not the order of the day. Mr Sobotka told journalists on Monday that efforts were needed to improve communication between the EU and the Euroasian Economic Union supported by Moscow, and with Russia itself – after tensions increased since the crisis in Ukraine.

Vietnamese president vows to lift barriers on Czech exports

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang has promised that existing administrative barriers hampering Czech firms' trading with Vietnam will be lifted Czech President Miloš Zeman told journalists after their Monday meeting. Mr Zeman outlined that Vietnam represented an attractive export market, saying that it was time to raise economic cooperation to a higher level. The visit by the Vietnamese president and his wife to the Czech Republic lasts until Wednesday. On Monday afternoon, the two heads-of-state were scheduled to attend a Vietnamese-Czech trade forum.

Fighter pilots from Hungary, Sweden, to take part in military exercises

Fighter pilots from Hungary and Sweden flew Gripen jets to the Caslav air base in the Czech Republic ahead of international military exercises entitled Lion Effort underway through May 24. Thailand is also taking part but without its own aircraft. The exercise will mark a decade that Gripen fighter jets have been used to guard Czech airspace. In 2009 and 2011, similar exercises were held in Hungary and Sweden. The Czech air force will also send L-159 light combat planes, Mi-24 assault helicopters, Mi-171 multipurpose helicopters and C-295 CASA transport aircraft to take part. German Eurofighter Typhoons and Polish F-16s will also operate from their home bases. The military exercises will wrap-up with an air show and an open doors day at the base.

Most staff at Government Agency for Social Inclusion on strike

The majority of employees at the Government Agency for Social Inclusion began a strike on Monday morning. They staff are demanding independence for the state body, which falls under the minister of human rights, Jiří Dienstbier, and have called for talks with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. The dispute arose after Mr. Dienstbier dismissed the head of the agency, which is aimed at helping integrate Romanies into mainstream society.

Rath appears in court for first time since bike accident

Former regional governor and former minister of health and member of the Social Democrats David Rath appeared in court on Monday for the first time since a recent bike accident that saw him treated in hospital. The ex-politician is on trial facing corruption charges; nine of 11 co-accused in the case were already been handed verdicts, including former MP Petr Kott and his wife Kateřina who were each sentenced to 7.5 years in jail. Three years ago, Mr Rath was caught red-handed with seven million crowns on his person, a suspected bribe, and charged with bribery linked to the planned reconstruction of the Buštehrad Chateau, central Bohemia. He is also suspected of having taken other bribes connected with the purchase of hospital equipment. His defence team has asked for another adjournment of the trial, citing health reasons tied to the recent accident.

No man's land politician questioned by Croatian police

Croatian police at the weekend briefly detained Czech national Vít Jedlička who in April founded a mock state on a seven-square-kilometre stretch of no-man’s land disputed for years by Croatia and Serbia. Mr Jedlička, a member of a Czech extra-parliamentary right-wing party, founded a state he called Liberland on April 13th. Croatia tightened checks around the area near the Danube over recent days, deploying police patrols and boats in the locality and preventing individuals from entering the uninhabited area. Mr Jedlička was stopped from entering and questioned for half-an-hour, according to the Czech News Agency. The Czech said afterwards he had discussed the further “functioning” of the zone with a judge in Beli Manastir. The Czech Foreign Ministry has declined to comment.

Company making plastic car parts to build factory in northeast Bohemia

The Portuguese company Simoldes Plasticos, which produces plastic parts for cars, is to open a new factory at Rychnov nad Kněžnou in northeast Bohemia, the newspaper E15 reported on Monday. The firm is planning to invest CZK 800 million in the factory, which will employ around 300 people. E15 said Simoldes Plasticos had been attracted to Rychnov nad Kněžnou by the expansion of production by Škoda Auto at the nearby Kvasiny.

Comedy/horror wins at Anifilm

Spanish director Sam Conflictivos won the main award for best animated full-length film for adults with his puppet horror comedy Possessed at the Anifilm international festival in Třebon at the weekend. The Tale of Princess Kaguya by Japanese Isao Takahata, which was nominated for an Oscar this year, won as the best animated full-length film for children. Special mentions in these categories went to Signe Baumane, a Latvian animator living in New York, for her autobiographical study of depression, Rocks in my Pockets, and Irish director Tomm Moore, from the Cartoon Saloon studio, for Song of the Sea.

Blues-rock band Krausberry set to release new album

The Czech blues and rock band Krausberry, co-founded in 1984 by frontman Martin Kraus, will release a new double-album on May 15 featuring 31 songs in the order they were recorded, including rarities which were released on vinyl only in the mid-1980s The newest song on the album, which marks Kraus’ 60th birthday, is Nastydlá (Caught a cold) from 2007.

Hockey: Hudler opens scoring but Flames fall to Anaheim in second round of Stanley Cup playoffs

Calgary Flames forward Jiří Hudler, held without a point in four games, opened the scoring and also got an assist on Sunday in Game 5 of the Flames’ second-round match- against the Anaheim Ducks up in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The match was a close affair which went to overtime tied at 2-2. Calgary needed a win to cut their deficit in the best-of-seven series which they trailed 3-1 but Anaheim’s Corey Perry found the net in the extra period, sending the Flames home for the summer.