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Prague bishop protests against bill taxing church restitutions

Prague Bishop Václav Malý has sent an open letter to the speakers of the lower house of Parliament and the Senate to protest against an amendment taxing church restitutions approved by the lower chamber last week. Bishop Malý says in the letter that the minority government is paying the price for Communist Party support, and argues that the bill demonstrates the growing arrogance and unscrupulous practices of those in power.

The amendment, which was approved in the lower house last Wednesday, would tax the roughly 59 billion crowns which the state is paying out in phases as compensation for property which the state cannot return.

Prague City Council weeding out dishonest exchange offices

The Prague City Council has started delivering on its promise to close down dishonest exchange offices that rip off foreign visitors to Prague.

A number of them still offer high commissions with some selling the euro for 16 crowns compared to the official exchange rate of just over 25 crowns per euro. Or else the offer „zero commission” and favourable exchange rates that only apply to large transactions.

Two such Chequepoint outlets have been closed since November of last year and councillors are looking at around two dozen others which may follow suit.

Last year MPs approved an amendment to the Exchange Act that will allow customers up to three hours to cancel a currency exchange transaction that they find to be highly disadvantageous and get their money back, but the law will only come into force in April of this year.

Exchange offices set their rates independently of the official exchange rates announced by the Czech National Bank.

MEP Pavel Poc to lead Social Democrats in elections to EP

The Social Democrats have chosen MEP Pavel Poc to lead them in elections to the European Parliament. The junior party in the ruling minority coalition is aiming to defend its four seats in the European Parliament.

Party leader Jan Hamáček said the chosen candidates reflected the party’s policy priorities and emphasized gender equality.

Jan Hamáček has a strong change of getting re-elected party leader in the party’s election conference in March after winning support from the majority of the party’s regional branches in recent days.

Czechs to mark three significant anniversaries this year

The Czech government is planning to spend close to 55 million crowns on celebrations marking three significant anniversaries for the country coming up in 2019.

Czechs will mark 30 years since the Velvet Revolution that toppled four decades of communist rule, 20 years since the country’s admission to NATO and 15 years since the country joined the EU.

The government is to debate a list of proposals for the celebrations of these milestone events on Monday.

Skating season starts at Lake Lipno

The skating season officially opened at Lake Lipno in South Bohemia this weekend, Czech Radio reported. Lake Lipno, which covers a territory of 4870 hectares and is the biggest man-made lake in the Czech Republic, boasts the longest natural ice-skating track in the country – the circuit is four kilometres long and 10 metres wide.

The track opens when the lake freezes over and the ice is thick enough to allow mass skating. Presently it is reported to be over 18 cm thick.

Markéta Davidová takes silver at Biathlon World Cup

Twenty-two-year-old Czech hopeful Marketa Davidová took the silver at the Biathlon World Cup event in Antholz-Anterselva on Sunday, fresh from her first World Cup victory in the 7.5km sprint in Italy on Thursday.

The gold went to double Olympic champion Laura Dahlmeier who crossed the line in 35:32.8 minutes, 13.1 seconds ahead of Davidová. Dahlmeier's compatriot Vanessa Hinz took the bronze, 16.4 seconds behind the winner.

Weather forecast

Monday should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius.