In tennis, the Czech Republic won a tight tie against Romania on Sunday 3:2 and are through to the semi-finals of the Fed Cup. Karolína Plíšková and Barbora Strýcová beat Andreea Mitu and Loana Olaru in the decisive doubles 6:2, 6:3. Earlier, Karolína Plíšková drew the tie level at 2:2 with a 6:4, 4:6, 6:3 win against Monica Niculescu. Petra Kvitová had earlier lost 4:6. 6:3, 3:6 against Romanian top player Simona Halep.
The Czech Republic paid a ransom of around 6 million US dollars for the release of two Czech woman held in Pakistan, the weekly Respekt reports in its latest edition, details of which were released Sunday. The sum far exceeds the ransom sum previously suspected, of around 2 million US dollars, the weekly added. Antonie Chrástecká and Hana Humpálová were released in March last year after two years of captivity. At the time of the release, interior minister Milan Chovanec, denied that any negotiations were held or ransom paid to the kidnappers, believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda. The report comes amid the fallout from the release of five Czechs held in Lebanon in return for a Lebanese citizen held in the Czech Republic.
The Czech National Bank is facing arbitration proceedings of up to 20 billion crowns, the business weekly Euro reports in its latest edition, the ČTK news agency reported on Sunday. The pending move relates to former paper industry giant ICEC-Holding which was given loans by the former bank IPB with part of its assets given as security. When the bank collapsed and was finally transferred to the Czech bank ČSOB in 2000 some of the ICEC assets went with it. The weekly reports that ICEC Holding and ČSOB have been battling over the claims for several years but now the state, specifically the central bank, which guaranteed the takeover of IPB, is set to be the target of an arbitration proceeding launched by ČSOB.
A group of around 20 masked men attacked a centre used to help immigrants in the Prague district of Žižkov on Saturday night. They threw Molotov cocktails at the building in which around two dozen people were inside. Police and firemen rushed to the scene. They have not been able to confirm a link between the attack and anti-immigrant and anti-Islam demonstrations held in Prague earlier in the day. The centre was established in a disused building by volunteers to collect clothes and other basic necessities and offer help to immigrants.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed five Czechs were killed by an avalanche in the Austrian Alps on Saturday, the ČTK agency reported Sunday. Earlier police reports had only said the victims were believed to be Czechs. Three other Czechs injured by the avalanche have been released from hospital, the agency reported. A total of 17 Czech skiers were caught in a massive avalanche that struck the Wattener Lizum region, south-east of Innsbruck shortly before midday. Three others were airlifted to hospital. According to Czech Television the two groups of Czech skiers caught in the avalanche ignored repeated warnings not to set out. High degree avalanche alerts have been in place in the region for several days now. Some of the survivors said they were in a region where a lower second degree warning applied shortly before the avalanche struck.
One of the freed Czech hostages in Lebanon has rejected the idea that their kidnapping was organised by members of Ali Fayad’s family. Fayad, detained in Prague, was released soon after the Czechs were put on a plane home. Jan Švarc told Czech Television that it would have been stupid for the family to kidnap the lawyer and a member of the family, who later suffered a heart attack during his imprisonment. He described the kidnappers as professionals and that they did not appear to belong to any religious group. But Švarc said his personal opinion was that they were not members of the Lebanese intelligence service. The identity of the kidnappers is still not clear.
Czech biathlete Gabriela Soukalová achieved third place in the mass start event at Canada’s Canmore. She trailed winner, Italian Dorothea Wierer ,by around 50 seconds. The Czech still tops the World Cup ranking with 763 points although second placed Wierer has closed the gap and is now on 672 points.
Five Czech skiers have been killed in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps, the AFP news agency reported. A total of 17 Czech skiers were caught in a massive avalanche that struck the Wattener Lizum region, south-east of Innsbruck shortly before midday. Three others were reportedly airlifted to hospital. According to Czech Television the two groups of Czech skiers caught in the avalanche ignored repeated warnings not to set out. High degree avalanche alerts have been in place in the region for several days now.
In tennis, the Czech Republic began the defence of their Fed Cup title with a 1:1 draw against Romania at the end of the first day’s play. Karolína Plíšková got the visitors off to a winning start after turning around the game against world number three Simona Halep. After losing the first set 6:7, Plíšková took the following sets 6:2, 6:4. Petra Kvitová though lost to Monica Niculescu 3:6, 4:6.
Demonstrations against immigration, the EU, and Islam took place in Prague and the second city, Brno, on Saturday. The main demonstration in Prague against Islam and the EU attracted around 500 supporters. In the early afternoon in Prague there was a clash between supporters and opponents of immigration around Malá Strana when stones and bottles were thrown. Police intervened after a short delay. Police also said they detained one man who fired blanks with a gun. In Brno around 500 people demonstrated against immigration. The anti-Islam demonstration in Prague and Brno were part of a series of organised in Europe and even Australia. Prague police had called in reinforcements from the Ústí region ahead of the events. Some embassies have warned their citizens to stay away from the centre of Prague.