The authorities in Prague say they wish to play no part in a planned state visit by Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, to the Czech Republic in April. Mayor Tomáš Hudeček said on Tuesday that he would not be invited to the Old Town Hall, which is customary during a presidential visit. A number of public figures have called on President Miloš Zeman to cancel the invitation to Mr. Yanukovych, whose country is currently riven by deep unrest sparked by his decision to back away from closer ties to the European Union and agree a loan with Russia.
The recently appointed three-party coalition government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will seek a confidence vote on February 18, deputies decided on Tuesday. Under Czech law, a new government has 30 days to win approval in the lower house. The government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats has 111 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
Prime Minister Sobotka says he has reached agreement with ANO chief and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš over the placing of a Social Democrat deputy minister at the Finance Ministry, in keeping with a tradition of coalition parties having officials at that level at ministries they do not control. However, Mr. Sobotka did not reveal the name of his party’s candidate after talks with Mr. Babiš on Tuesday. The latter had previously refused to accept the Social Democrats’ Jiří Peřina as deputy minister for taxation.
President Miloš Zeman will name Jiří Rusnok a member of the board of the Czech National Bank on Wednesday, the president’s office announced on Tuesday. Mr. Rusnok, an economist, was until recently prime minister of a caretaker government installed by the president. Mr. Zeman had signalled his intention of appointing him to the seven-member central bank board soon after becoming head of state a year ago. Mr. Rusnok was in the past minister of finance and minister of industry and trade.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has expressed backing for the construction of a distribution centre by the internet retail giant Amazon in the Moravian capital Brno. After a meeting on Monday with Brno’s mayor, Roman Onderka, Mr. Sobotka promised state support for the building of a new exit off the D1 motorway leading to the site of the proposed distribution centre. The prime minister also backs the building of a second Amazon centre at Dobrovíz near Prague, which has come in for local opposition. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said recently that if the online retailer did not invest in the Czech Republic it would do so in Poland or Slovakia.
Staff at Prague Zoo have been forced to put down a rare Sumatran tiger born there in July. Vets had discovered that the animal, which had first been presented to the public at Christmas, had a form of hereditary kidney disease. The male tiger cub was put down two weeks ago but the zoo did not announce the news on its website until Tuesday. Sumatran tigers are seriously endangered; there are around 400 at a reservation in Indonesia and about 100 in European zoos.
A new documentary about the late Czech documentary maker Pavel Koutecký is set to receive its premiere in Prague on Tuesday night. Jana Počtová’s film, entitled Fragmenty P.K. (Fragments of P.K.), maps the life and work of Koutecký, who was killed in 2006 before completing one of the most successful Czech documentaries of recent years, Občan Havel (Citizen Havel), a portrait of the former president. Koutecký died after falling from an uncompleted Prague skyscraper at the age of 49.
The leading Czech downhill skier Šárka Strachová (née Záhrobská) says she is hoping to take a medal at what will be her last Winter Olympics in Sochi. Before flying to Russia on Tuesday, the 28-year-old, who will carry the Czech flag at Friday’s opening ceremony, said she would train in Austria for a week between her two events, the super combined competition and the slalom, as no slopes would be available in Sochi for practicing. Strachová took bronze in the slalom in Vancouver four years ago.
Strong winds and icy roads have been causing traffic problems in parts of the Czech Republic. In some places, roads were blocked by fallen branches on Tuesday, while snow covered some roads, mainly in the west, east and north-east of the country. Police warned drivers to exercise extra caution while meteorologists said weather conditions were not likely to improve much during the day.
It should be largely cloudy with the chance of rain in the coming days. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 4 degrees Celsius.