Major reconstruction work has begun on one of the most frequented freeways in the Czech Republic, the D1, which connects Prague and Brno. The 160-kilometer road, which has been in a dire state for a number of years, will be modernized in sections, with only partial closings at each stretch. Transportation Ministry officials said that no traffic problems were noted in the first day of the road work. In addition to modernizing the road and connected infrastructure, the roadway will be expanded from two to three lanes in some places. The reconstruction should last six years in total.
Organizers of the Prague Marathon, which is happening this weekend, said that stricter security measures will be in place this year, in light of the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon. There will be a higher number of police officers and security personnel at the event, but neither the organizers nor the Prague City Hall, which is in charge of police detail, were willing to give exact numbers. Some 450 people were looking after safety at last year’s marathon. This year, police and security personnel will regularly check the surrounding area of the marathon route, garbage cans and metro stations. Some nine and a half thousand runners are registered for the main marathon on Sunday.
Dozens of homes and an industrial complex were flooded in the town of Studénka in eastern Moravia, after heavy rainfall hit the area on Wednesday night. Fifteen fire brigades assisted businesses and residents to drain the water from their homes and gardens throughout the night and into Thursday morning. One man was trapped in his car in high water, but was eventually rescued by firefighters. No major injuries were reported.
A Czech businessman, Jiří Skalický, was detained this week by the police in Mexico on suspicion of blackmail. Mr Skalický’s business partner told police that he had demanded a substantial sum of money in exchange for the safety of the man’s family, which the 48-year old Czech has denied, saying that the two are in a financial dispute. The Mexican authorities will decide on Thursday if they will press charges against Mr Skalický.
Thursday marks 140 years since the birth of Antonín Čermák, once mayor of Chicago and a native of the town of Kladno near Prague. One of the most famous Czech-Americans, Tony Cermak was the mayor of Chicago from 1931 until 1933, when he was assassinated. A school in Prague 6 was renamed at a ceremony on Thursday in honor of his achievements.
Czechs commemorate the end of the Second World War on Wednesday, a public holiday in the Czech Republic. Events marking Liberation Day are held across the country; President Miloš Zeman marked the anniversary at Prague’s Vítkov Hill where a military parade was held. The event was attended by other Czech officials including Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the speaker of the lower house, Miroslava Němcová, the defence minister, the chief of the Czech Army’s general staff, and the head of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Dominik Duka. President Zeman will also appoint new generals of the Czech Army on Wednesday. The Czech Parliament as well as the country’s Foreign Ministry hold an open day on Wednesday, allowing visitors to view the interiors of the buildings.
Czech President Miloš Zeman appointed five new army generals on Wednesday, on the occasion of Liberation Day. The new generals include the head of the Czech army intelligence service, Karel Kovanda, commander of the army’s joint forces Ján Gurník, commander of the ground forces Ladislav Jung, the rector of the Defence University Bohuslav Přikryl, and chief of the Military Police, Milan Schulc.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has criticized Israeli airstrikes on Syria and the country’s settlements plans in the West Bank. In an interview for the news website Times of Israel released on Tuesday night, Mr Schwarzenberg called plans to build settlements in the controversial E1 area “obnoxious”; the Czech foreign minister also said he would nit express support for Israeli airstrikes on weapon convoys in Syria, and never sanction a potential Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr Schwarzenberg’s remarks are the first strong criticism of Israeli policies coming from a Czech government minister as the country is considered one of Israel’s major allies within the EU.
Switzerland’s Attorney General Michal Lauber has appreciated a change in
attitude by the Czech authorities in investigating alleged corruption in
the 1998 privatization of the mining company MUS. In an interview for the
daily Le Temps on Wednesday, Mr Lauber said that following political
changes in early 2012, his office registered a genuine will of the Czech
authorities to progress in the case. Until the end of 2011, the Czech
Republic did everything to make things more difficult for Swiss
prosecution, Mr Lauber said.
Swiss and Czech authorities raised charges of corruption against former managers of the firm; they face accusations that they privatized the firm using money earmarked for environmental projects. A trial against the accused is set to begin in Switzerland on Monday.
T-Mobile, the Czech Republic’s largest mobile phone operator, on Wednesday posted a 14.3-percent annual decrease in its earnings before interest, tax, depreciating and amortization, or EBITDA, in the first quarter of this year. The margin reached 2.65 billion crowns. T-Mobile’s revenues decreased by nearly ten percent while the number of the firm’s clients rose by around 4 percent, and reached 5.6 million. In a statement, the firm said the results reflected trends registered in the previous periods, such as further development of data services, lower average spending by clients as well as higher consumption of telecommunications services.
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Traditional tourist sites open to visitors after long break
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