The Czech Republic will face Spain, Turkey and Croatia in the group stage of football's European Championship in France next summer. Pavel Vrba's team take on the holders Spain in their opening game in Toulouse on June 13. They then play Croatia in St. Etienne and Turkey in Lens. The Czechs have qualified for the tournament for the sixth time in a row.
Around 1,000 people demonstrated in support of President Miloš Zeman in central Prague on Saturday. Participants chanted "The Czech Republic for Czechs" and "We don't want multiculturalism," the Czech News Agency reported. A demonstration against xenophobia was also held and police led away participants who attempted to block the pro-Zeman group by sitting on the ground. The Czech president has been criticised by the UN commissioner for human rights and others for his comments on migrants and Muslims. A recent opinion poll suggested 41 percent of voters would give him their backing if he stood again.
The Communist Party does not plan to suspend the membership of Miloslav Ransdorf, an MEP for the party who was recently arrested in Switzerland on suspicion of an attempted fraud. After a meeting of the Communists' central committee on Saturday at which Mr. Ransdorf presented materials relating to his case, party leader Vojtěch Filip said that it was an advisory body and could not take any action. He said it was now up to the MEP to clear his name. Mr. Ransdorf was arrested with three Slovaks at a bank in Zurich, allegedly attempting to withdraw EUR 350 million on the basis of false documents.
A new national train timetable is being introduced in the Czech Republic on Saturday night. The number of connections is set to increase by 110 compared to the previous year, with more trains between Prague and Brno and more commuter services to major cities scheduled. As for international connections, there will be more trains to Poland while a route running from Warsaw via Ostrava to Bratislava and Budapest is being reintroduced, officials said. The Czech Republic has one of Europe's densest rail networks.
The weather in the Czech Republic should remain mild until the end of the year, the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute said in a regular monthly forecast issued on Saturday. Daytime temperatures in the coming week will reach up to 10 degrees Celsius with regular winter weather expected at the beginning of January. The highest levels of precipitation in the next four weeks can be expected at Christmas, the forecasters said.
The Prague theatre Divadlo Rokoko is celebrating 100 years of existence on Saturday. The city centre venue began as Kabaret Rokoko under the famous songwriter and director Karel Hašler and later played host to emerging 1960s pop singers such as Waldemar Matuška, Hana Hegerová and the Golden Kids (Marta Kubišová, Helena Vondráčková and Václav Neckář). Several stars – including Neckář, Karel Štědrý, Eva Pilarová and Soňa Červená – are set to take part in a special show that will recount the theatre’s 100-year history in 100 minutes, organisers said.
One-time dissident Bishop Jiří Paďour has died at the age of 72. Padour studied acting in Prague in the 1960s, when he got to know Václav Havel, and directing in France, where he decided to join the church and returned to Czechoslovakia. After coming into conflict with the Communist authorities he was stripped of his license to minister and forced to work as a cleaner, though he secretly joined the Capuchin order. He became a leading figure in the Czech Roman Catholic Church following the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
The Czech authorities are considering combating problems with drought by transporting water from the Danube to the Vltava or the Labe (Elbe), iDnes.cz reported on Saturday. Two water corridors are being considered, the news site said. One would lead from Jochenstein in Bavaria or Aschach in Upper Austria to the village of Přední Výtoň by Lake Lipno. The other would start near Bratislava and follow the Danube-Odra-Labe route. Thanks to the Alps, the Danube does not suffer from a shortage of water. A feasibility study is currently being carried out. 2015 has been one of the driest years on record in the Czech Republic.
The ANO party remains in front according to an opinion poll conducted by the Median agency in November. The survey put ANO in first place with 23.5 percent of preferences. The Social Democrats are a close second with 22 percent. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia are third with 12.5 percent. Centre-right parties TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats follow with 10 and 9 percent respectively. The Christian Democrats have improved slightly to 7.5 percent.
The presence of a wolf near Teplic nad Metuji in the Broumov National Park has been confirmed by a photo-trap set up there a month ago. Zoologists say the spotting in the north-east of the country is a unique event. The nearest confirmed populations of wolves are around Lusatia in Germany or South-Eastward around Beskydy on the Slovak border. The possibility that the wolf escaped from captivity has not been ruled out. In recent times wolves have been spotted in the Šumava National Park and around Kokořín.