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Respekt: Zeman’s chancellor seeking to influence judiciary for several years

President Miloš Zeman’s chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, has been trying to influence decisions at key courts in the country, Respekt reported on Monday. Among the courts that Mr. Mynář attempted to influence were the Constitutional and Supreme Administrative courts, the news weekly said. These activities have been going on for several years and range from the president’s right hand man gathering information about important cases to telling courts how to decide, Respekt alleged. Prague Castle spokesman Jiří Ovčáček reacted to the report by saying that Mr. Mynář had been speaking to the judges in order to inform them about the viewpoints of the president.

Ukrainian ambassador hits back at Klaus over “provocation” comment

The Ukrainian ambassador to Prague, Yevhen Perebyjnis, has hit back at a statement by former Czech president Václav Klaus, who said on Sunday that Ukraine was being goaded by Western political elites, including that of the Czech Republic, to provoke Russia. Mr. Perebyjnis asked on Twitter whether Czechoslovakia had provoked Nazi Germany to action in 1938.

Mr. Klaus said on TV Prima that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behaving cautiously and soberly and not reacting to each provocation, adding that this was fortunate. Mr. Perebyjnis asked whether Hitler too had been cautious and sober.

The Ukrainian ambassador’s comments received support from Czech MEP Jaromír Štětina and former TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek.

Pensioner confesses to fake terror attack aimed at discrediting migrants

Czech pensioner Jaromír Balda has confessed to cutting down trees that landed on railroad tracks, causing two train accidents in 2017. Mr. Balda, who is 71, told the Prague Municipal Court on Monday that he had left leaflets at the scene bearing fake “jihadist” slogans in order to discredit migrants, who he referred to as a “horror”.

The pensioner said that he has recovered his wits since being in jail for nearly a year and that he had not intended to hurt anyone. The case is being prosecuted as a terrorist attack and the perpetrator faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

Operator: Record number of Czechs changed electricity supplier in 2018

Last year over 570,000 Czech consumers changed their electricity supplier, a record number, the Czech electricity and gas market operator OTE reported on Monday. The figure was 60 higher than in 2017. The numbers of Czechs switching to a different gas supplier also saw a year-on-year increase of 15.8 percent.

Analysts told the Czech News Agency that the main reason behind the trend has been the marked increase in wholesale energy prices, which are affecting the total consumer price.

Eleven hospitalised after carbon monoxide leak at Prague ice hockey arena

Eleven people were hospitalised following a carbon monoxide leak at the ice hockey arena at Prague’s Výstaviště exhibition grounds on Sunday evening. Sixteen people inhaled the poisonous gas during a training session for amateur hockey players. Fire officers said the carbon monoxide had escaped from an ice resurfacing machine.

The Malá sportovní hala (Small Sports Hall) dates from the early 1960s. As well as sports events it is used as a concert venue and has hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and REM.

Census: Great tit most common bird in Czech Republic

Over 10,000 people took part in the first ever bird census in the Czech Republic at the weekend. The participants sent information about the birds they had observed in their gardens and elsewhere to the website of the Czech Ornithological Society. Volunteers registered almost a quarter of a million birds of dozens of species.

According to preliminary results, the most reported bird was the great tit, which finished far ahead of the tree sparrow and house sparrow.

Weather forecast

Tuesday is set to be cloudy with temperatures just above zero across the country. Moravia and Silesia will see a mix of rain and snow, while in Bohemia it is expected to rain. Meteorologists expect countrywide snowing on Wednesday.