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Prime minister to call for more effective security, will back energy union at EU summit

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will appeal for more effective security on the EU’s outer borders, for greater cooperation among European intelligence services and will back the European Energy Union at the upcoming EU summit. The mandate was agreed at the cabinet meeting on Monday. At the summit, Mr Sobotka will also reject calls by Great Britain for limits on EU free movement. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced in November that London was in favour of restrictions. Prior to the summit on Thursday and Friday, the prime minister is due to meet with counterparts from the Visegrad 4.

Government agrees to relocation of Christian families from Iraq

The Czech government on Monday agreed to the relocation of 37 Christian families from Iraq to the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced, adding that a total of 153 refugees who have fled Islamic State will arrive from Kurdistan and Lebanon in three groups in the winter. The Generation 21 Foundation, which initiated plan, will finance most of the relocation project that is to take place under the patronage of church institutions. The government agreed to the proposal that the Interior Ministry would finance the relocation if the Generation 21 Foundation were unable to fulfil its promise. The costs may reach 32.5 million crowns at the most, which would be additionally given to the ministry.

Prague to divide 125 million crowns among cultural venues

The City of Prague will divide funding worth 125 million crowns in the form of grants for cultural venues and institutions over the next several years; 96 million of the sum has been allotted for 2016 alone. The proposal was passed by the committee for culture at City Hall. Those to receive funding next year include Prague’s Divadlo Semafor, Divadlo Na Fidlovačce, and other theatre venues. More than 750 organisations applied for funding for 2016; 10 were excluded outright while 496 will receive grant money.

Migrants behind small population rise in first three quarters

The population of the Czech Republic grew by 7,800 in the first nine months of this year to 10.546 million, according to figures issued by the Czech Statistics Office. The difference can be attributed to migrants as more people died than were born on Czech territory in the first three quarters. The number of fresh marriages grew between the start of January and the end of September while the number of divorces declined, according to the preliminary figures released on Monday.

Chovanec: Czech police ready to return to Hungarian border any time

The Czech Republic is ready to send police officers back to Hungary at any time on the request of the local authorities, the Czech minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said on a visit to Hungary, Czech Television reported. Fifty Czech officers were sent to help guard the Hungarian-Serbian border, which is part of the outer border of the Schengen zone, in October. They are due to return home in the next few days. Czech police will remain in place in Slovenia while others will be sent to Macedonia by February at the latest, Mr. Chovanec said on Sunday.

Sentences handed down in firebomb attack case

Two suspects found guilty of firebombing a boarding house in Aš inhabited mostly by Romanies more than three years ago have received sentences of almost seven years in prison each. Twenty-five-year-old Tomáš Kopecký and 35-year-old Michal Poláček were found guilty of attempted murder and the court ruled that the attack had been racially-motivated. Each could have received 20 years behind bars. Mr Kopecký’s defence has already appealed; the state prosecutor as well as the other defendant may also follow suit.

Bail on behalf of American murder suspect rejected

Brno’s Municipal Court has extended an order for quadruple murder suspect Kevin Dahlgren to remain behind bars. His lawyer had appealed for the American national to be released on bail, but the state prosecutor said the court feared the suspect might attempt to flee the Czech Republic prior to trial or ahead of a verdict. The 23-year-old suspect left the Czech Republic in 2013 shortly before the bodies of four of his relatives were found in their home in Brno-Ivančice. He was arrested immediately after returning to the United States on a flight from Austria. Mr Dahlgren was extradicted to the Czech Republic earlier this year. No trial date has been set; if found guilty the suspect faces a possible life sentence.

IKEM specialists, patient, discuss condition year after major surgery

Prague’s Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, IKEM, and a patient, Bartoloměj Pešta, who underwent a multiple transplant operation exactly one year ago, held a press conference on Monday to discuss his progress. In the operation, specialists last year transplanted five of the 60-year-old’s organs after he developed autoimmune liver disease which had gradually and then rapidly worsened: replaced were his liver, stomach, pancreas, spleen, and (for the first time in an operation in the Czech Republic) the small intestine. The surgery took more than 10 hours. The patient on Monday told journalists he sometimes felt better, sometimes worse. Immunosuppressive drugs are required after transplants; the patient, doctors said, regularly had one or two check-ups per month and was required to obey a strict diet.

Thousands hit slopes for first skiing of season

Thousands of skiers took to the slopes for the first time this season in the Czech Republic as runs were opened at a number of ski hills in the Krkonoše Mountains. Ski hills which opened runs at the weekend included Černá Hora, Špindelrův Mlýn and Malá Úpa. Lower-lying operators are still waiting for more suitable conditions to begin snow-making.

Football: Sparta Prague to face Russian side in next round of Europa League

Sparta Prague, the lone Czech football club still in competition in the Europa League, has drawn Russian side Krasnodar in the round of 32.

No Czech clubs are in the final 16 of the Champions League, meanwhile, but London club Arsenal, with goalie Petr Čech, did reach the final 16; Arsenal drew FC Barcelona in the compeition which resumes in the spring.