Russia has warned the European Commission it might halt oil supplies to Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic over an unresolved dispute with Ukraine. Although Slovakia has confirmed receiving a warning from Brussels, the Czech government says it has as yet received no official announcement.
Trade and Industry Minister Tomáš Bartovský said on Monday there was no cause for immediate concern since the Czech Republic had oil reserves for up to three months.
The Czech ambassador to the European Union, Milena Vicenová, says she considers it essential to work on correcting the Czech Republic’s Eurosceptic reputation. In an interview for Czech Radio, Ms Vicenová said this widespread view was in many ways undeserved since it does not reflect the opinions of the general public, which are overwhelmingly pro-EU. The Czech ambassador said this negative image was hard to fight and stemmed largely from President Václav Klaus’s anti-EU sentiments, but also from the country’s frequent inability to present its views clearly and at the right time. She said it was time to convince the EU member states that the Czech Republic was trustworthy, willing to pull its weight and was capable of listening to others.
Six Czechs were arrested at Frankfurt airport after causing a disruption over delayed flights, the daily Lidové Noviny wrote on Monday. According to the paper the incident happened just ahead of the Christmas holidays when some 250 flights had to be postponed due to a bad snowstorm. With thousands of people crowding the airport, the Czech passengers grew impatient and reportedly caused a scene, demanding refreshments. German police arrested six troublemakers including the country’s honorary consul in Brazil, who reportedly resisted arrest and was manhandled by the police. The Czech consulate in Brazil has confirmed the incident without comment.
Czech police have arrested ten people who manufactured and smuggled large quantities of marihuana into neighbouring states. The group operated three plantations near Prague, from which the police confiscated over 1,000 marihuana plants and over sixty kilograms of marihuana. One of the gang’s couriers was arrested at the Czech-German border with 30 kilograms of marihuana in his possession. Another was arrested in Bratislava with 15 kilograms of the drug on his person. The suspects face sentences of 10 to 15 years if found guilty.
The Czech Defense Ministry is laying off over 1600 career soldiers and over 2,000 civilian employees within austerity measures adopted as a result of next year’s budget cuts. The ministry will have to operate on a budget of 49 billion crowns ie. 7 billion crowns less than in 2009. The savings have not affected the purchase of military equipment and Defense Minister Martin Barták said the military would remain action-capable despite the cuts. Earlier this month the Defense Ministry signed a contract on the supply of 90 light armoured vehicles for more than 3.6 billion crowns. It also plans to purchase 197 personnel carriers Pandur II at a cost of 14.4 billion crowns and four transport planes Casa C-295M.
The Czech economy is expected to grow an estimated one to two percent in 2010 thanks to positive development abroad. According to analysts polled by the CTK news agency, the economy should revive notably in the first half of the year, slowing down in the third and fourth quarters. At the same time, low inflation, growing unemployment and a very low wage growth may for the first time in years cause a fall in real incomes.
Hundreds of thousands of precious artifacts have been stolen from Czech churches in the past twenty years, Vladimír Kelnar from the Prague Archbishopric told the CTK news agency. Some of the less frequented churches and chapels have been virtually plundered, with close to half of the Gothic and Renaissance works of art and roughly one-third of Baroque artifacts stolen. Mr. Kelnar said thieves work on demand, often smuggling the works abroad to collectors and it was difficult for the police to trace and bring them back. In some places priests have started locking church doors to the public when they are not in attendance in an effort to protect what is left.
Czech actor Jaroslav Moučka died on December 26, at the age of 86, the CTK news agency reports. The well-know actor spent the best part of his career at the Vinohrady Theatre in Prague, but he also performed in more than 70 Czech films and TV series and frequently worked for Czech Radio.
The Czech Republic lost 3:2 to Finland in its second game of the U20 Hockey World Championship in Canada on Sunday. The Czechs built up a lead of 3:0, but the Finns came back in the third period, scoring the winning goal just two minutes before the end of the game. This is the Czech team’s second defeat meaning it will now have to beat both outsider Austria and favoured Russia in order to be able to advance to the event’s quarterfinals.
The next few days should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 3 and minus 1 degrees Celsius.