ANO leader and minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, has been added to the list of government figures who will get police protection in the future. The government made the decision on Monday. Babiš previously remarked that he faced greater danger than many of those on the current list, they include the prime minister, leaders of two houses of parliament, and ministers of foreign affairs, justice, and interior. Babiš has previously been reported as under threat from the Albanian mafia and poison letters were sent to him by a Slovenian loner.
Czech Prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka plans to visit Turkey next year and Czech president Miloš Zeman intends to tour Latin America, the ČTK news agency reported Monday. Visits by Chinese president Xi Jinping,British prime minister David Cameron and Israel’s Benjamin Natanjahu to the Czech Republic are expected in 2016, the agency added. The Czech president’s Latin America trip should cover Mexico, Colombia, possibly Costa Rica and perhaps Brazil if he attends the summer Olympics there.
The Czech government decided Monday to send 25 police officers to Macedonia to help the country deal with the ongoing immigration crisis in the Balkans. The Czech contingent will stay in the country from mid-January to the end of February next year. Prague also agreed to give 20 million crowns to the Macedonia government to help it meet the extra costs of the crisis. Czech police are already helping in Hungary and Slovenia. The Slovenian contingent will now stay in the country until the end of January.
The Czech Republic’s spending watchdog, the Supreme Audit Office, reported Monday that it found more than 5 billion crowns of errors in the accounts of the Ministry of Health for 2014. The office said most of the mistakes, 3.4 billion crowns worth, were covered by one sole section of spending. Another, totaling 1 billion crowns, was related to the storage of anti-viruses. The Ministry of Health said the money had not gone missing but its accounting methods did not conform with the expectations of the audit office.
Czech power giant ČEZ announced Monday that it has made a non-binding offer for the assets of Swedish energy company Vattenfall in Germany. The portfolio covers coal mines, coal-fired power plants, and hydro power facilities. ČEZ, which is almost 70 percent state owned, has said the assets represent a good fit with its power portfolio and experience in the Czech Republic. Monday was the deadline for bids to be submitted but a final deal is not expected to be sealed until well into the new year. A big uncertainty over the expected sale price for Vattenfall’s assets is the future German government stand over coal mines and power plants.
A 45-year-old man from South America last week attempted to smuggle 800 grammes of cocaine through Prague’s Václav Havel airport. The incident was announced by the Czech customs service on Monday. The drugs smuggler attempted to conceal the cocaine in a two bottles of alcohol in his luggage on a regular flight to Prague from Paris. Customs officers swooped after X-ray checks raised their suspicions.
Czech energy company EPH might have to cede control of Slovakia’s biggest electricity company, Slovenské Elektrárne. EPH last week sealed a deal to acquire a 66 percent stake in Slovakia’s biggest electricity company from Italian power giant ENEL. But the Slovak Ministry of Economy announced on Monday that under a memorandum with the Italians it would have the option to win back control of Slovenské Elektrárne once the Mochovce nuclear reactors 3 and 4 are completed. That would shrink EPH’s final shareholding to 49 percent.
A new alternative burial ground called the Zen garden or a park of remembrance will start operating in Prague in 2016, director of Prague cemeteries, Martin Červený, told the Czech News Agency. The first natural burial ground, the Wood of Memories, where ashes are buried by the roots of trees, opened at the cemetery in Prague’s district of Ďáblice this year. According to Mr Červený, public interest has exceeded his expectations.
In football, former Czech goalkeeper Pavel Srníček has been taken to hospital after a suspected heart failure. The ‘keeper, who played for his country in the European Championships in 1996 and 2000, was rushed to Ostrava hospital on Sunday. He is reported to be in a critical condition. The player was best known at club level for his seven years as goalkeeper for Newcastle United between 1991 and 1998. He returned for a brief spell to the English club before ending his playing career at the age of 39. Srníček has more recently been one of the goalkeeping coaches for Sparta Prague.
In ice hockey, Czech legend Jaromír Jágr is now alone in fourth place on the NHL's all-time goal scoring list, after scoring in Florida Panther’s 5:4 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. The goal takes Jágr’s NHL goal tally to 732, one goal ahead of that of the Los Angeles Kings legend Marcel Dionne. Jágr needs nine more goals to equal the record of third-place Brett Hull.
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