Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said incoming immigrants are not part of an organized army. His comments on Thursday in a question and answer session in the lower house of parliament refute some of the recent remarks about immigrants made by president Miloš Zeman. The Czech prime minister stressed Europe needed a combination of solutions to deal with the immigrant crisis including a strengthened outer Schengen border, hotspots for refugees, and help to third countries such as Turkey. He added that a new strengthened Schengen frontier could be created in Macedonia and Bulgaria instead of the current porous defenses in Greece and Turkey.
President Miloš Zeman intervened again in the immigrant debate Thursday in response to questions on the web site Parlamentní Listy. He said that he was prepared for the Czech Republic to accept a few Syrian families with sick children or several dozen Iraqi Christians but that was enough. The Czech head of state said the EU’s proposed 1,500 strong border police and coast guard to help deal with immigrants was a ‘caricature’ of what a real border force should be. And he added that the army would sooner or later be drawn in to bolster border protection against immigrants.
New expert evidence in the trial of a nursing sister accused of killing six patients appears to have seriously compromised the prosecution case. Expert evidence presented Thursday said it was unlikely the patients at Rumburk hospital, northern Bohemia, died as a result of a potassium overdose. Nursing sister Věra Marešová faces charges after the deaths last year. The original evidence incriminating the nursing sister was provided by an expert whose analysis was also questioned in the recent trial of a man jailed for 28 years for murdering his wife and daughter. The court later threw out the prosecution case saying there was no substantial proof of guilt.
The Czech energy regulatory office on Thursday unveiled that it will be undertaking a near year long consultation on a proposed shake up of electricity distribution tariffs in the country. The consultation is aimed primarily at getting feedback from households and small consumers. An original study prepared for the shake up proposed an increase of up to 90 percent for the many Czechs having country homes. This has been pared back to around 45 percent but is still likely to spark an angry reaction from around half of the Czech population who have such country retreats. The shake up has been sparked by wider changes in the electricity market such as a sharp increase in renewable and local power production and the need to re-balance the charges burden for the network.
Czech-based betting company Synot announced Thursday that it is ending its sponsorship of the top Czech football league. It will also terminates its sponsorship of first league clubs Sparta Prague, Jablonec, and the Nymburk basketball club as well as its wider support for the Czech Sporting Union. Synot said its move was prompted by changes in betting legislation which will cost it hundreds of millions of crowns. It would not be possible to support its Czech activities with earnings from foreign operations it added. Synot said it would continue supporting sport in other countries which provided a n environment for activities to prosper.
In tennis, Czech player Lukáš Rosol has reached the third round of the Australian Open for the first time. In a tight three-setter Rosol beat US player Jack Sock 7:6, 7:6. 6:3, who is currently ranked 22nd in the world. He next faces a formidable challenge in the form of Swiss player Stan Wawrinka, who defeated fellow Czech Radek Štěpánek in the second round 6:2. 6:3, 6:4.
State-controlled power company ČEZ has confirmed that it will prepare this year a tender for nuclear fuel supply for its Temelín nuclear power plant. The tender could be held at the latest by mid-2017. The current contract is held by the Russian supplier TVEL, which has raised concerns in some quarters over Czech energy security. US supplier Westinghouse at one stage supplied fuel for Temelin and has in the past said it would like to be in the running again.
Officials at the Ministry of Culture say they are preparing for one of Prague’s bridges, Libeň, to be declared a cultural monument. The move comes in the face of proposals from Prague City Hall for a massive restoration of the bridge. Conservationists say the planned works amount to its demolition. The bridge was designed by Pavel Janák and opened in 1928. It has been described as the sole Cubist-style bridge in the world. A previous attempt to give the bridge heritage status in 2004 failed.
The town of Liberec will accept about 20 of the 153 Iraqi Christian refugees, who will start arriving in the Czech Republic this weekend, Liberec Deputy Mayor Ivan Langr said on Wednesday. The Liberec town hall will prepare two municipal flats for the refugees and aid would be provided by local Christian groups and charities. Along with the Interior Ministry and the Czech intelligence services, the Generation 21 Foundation organises the transport of 37 Christian families, most of who have been granted the international refugee status. The first 27 Iraqi Christians will arrive in Prague on January 24 and move to Jihlava, south Moravia. The rest of them are to come in February and March.
The Czech Radio Council has elected René Zavoral to head the public broadcaster. Mr Zavoral, who has until now served as deputy head for programming, was chosen from a shortlist of five candidates, receiving seven out of nine votes in the second round of the election. Zavoral, 39, who has worked for the public broadcaster since 2001, said he wanted Czech Radio to be regarded as a reliable media source, which is open to the public. Czech Radio’s previous director, Peter Duhan, resigned from his post in October last year. He was accused of having violated the rules of the Czech Radio’s supervisory council by employing his son Andrej at the radio station.