Average life expectancy for Czechs has this year risen to almost 76 years for men and 82 years for women, an increase of around seven months on the figures recorded in 2014, according to official government data published on Wednesday. The average Czech male is now living 4.2 years longer than in the year 2000 with his female equivalent now living 3.4 more years. The trend has been attributed to better healthcare, healthier lifestyles and an improved environment.
Police in Vsetín, north Moravia have charged a man in connection with a fire that destroyed a protected mountain cottage. The man, who is 50, is suspected of causing the blaze – which occurred in March this year – through negligence during repair work on its chimney in 2007. He could face eight years in jail if found guilty. Public collections have raised around CZK 10 million for a project to rebuild the Libušín cottage in the Beskid Mountains, which dates from 1925.
Rescue workers in Prague are to wear special protective gear on New Year’s Eve, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. They will be given cut- and fire-resistant gloves and helmets with visors while some will also receive bullet-proof vests. The city’s rescue services will have around 120 staff on duty for the last shift of the year, including dispatchers. Ambulance teams in the Czech Republic have encountered increased levels of aggression on the part of members of the public in recent years and there have been calls to change their status to public officials, which would mean tougher sentences for attacking them.
Czech Radio’s Plus channel will broadcast a live interview with President Miloš Zeman on Monday. It will be his first such appearance on the public broadcaster since November 2014, when Mr. Zeman used a number of expletives in an episode of an occasional series of interviews. The president rejected a plan to pre-record the shows and subsequently began appearing on a similar slot on a commercial channel. Monday’s interview is due to focus on foreign policy.
Prague’s municipal New Year’s Day fireworks show will this year take place at the city’s Vítkov Hill. In recent years the display, which draws tens of thousands of spectators, had been held on Letná Plain. The fireworks show will get underway at 6 PM and is set to last around 10 minutes. Overlooking the Žižkov district, Vítkov is home to a National Monument built in the 1930s in honour of Czechoslovak legionnaires. Access to the site will be closed on January 1, a police spokesperson said.
The price of a pack of 20 cigarettes in the Czech Republic will increase by CZK 3 or 4 from January 1. The change is due to an EU directive under which consumer tax on 1,000 cigarettes must reach EUR 90 (CZK 2430); the weak crown means that the Czech Republic would not fulfil this requirement and would face sanctions. Cigars and rolling tobacco will also go up in price from the New Year. Tax on cigarettes in the Czech Republic last went up in December 2014.
Police have begun investigating how Finance Minister Andrej Babiš’s company Agrofert acquired CZK 50 million from European Union funds to purchase a farm, Aktuálně.cz. reported. An anonymous criminal complaint filed two months ago asserts that Agrofert hid its identity when applying for the funding, which was aimed at small and medium-sized firms in the tourism industry. Mr. Babiš denies any wrongdoing and says inspectors have repeatedly concluded that no rules were broken.
An 18-year-old died on Tuesday night sledding at a ski hill in the area of Bruntál. The young man lost control on a section of the trail, which was reportedly icy, careening into a snow-making machine. Officials said the accident took place at around 9:45 PM. Medics were at the scene fairly quickly but were unable to save the youth who had suffered extensive head injuries. Officials said the ski hill was closed at the time of the accident, making clear no one should have been on the run.
Police are investigating the deaths of two homeless people, a 48-year-old man and 50-year-old woman, in Frýdek-Místek: their bodies were found in a forest by a makeshift shelter; a third homeless person is the main suspect in the killings. If charged and found guilty the man faces a sentence of between 15 and 20 years in prison.
Ostrava city councillor David Pfleger, of the ANO party, announced on Tuesday he would resign from his post effective as of December 31. In a statement, he made clear he was taking the move as he expected police will charge him in connection with a fraud case. He said, however, he had not committed any crime. The police said they were not free to comment at this time.