The Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto is apparently looking at the possibility of producing hybrid cars. A hybrid petrol and electric model of the prototype SUV utility vehicle to be unveiled at the Geneva car show at the start of March will have two electric motors capable on their own of travelling 50 kilometres. It’s not clear whether such a model might go into mass production with that decision likely to come in the second half of the year. Other comments from car company bosses have suggested that the top of the range Superb might be the first to make a debut as a hybrid car.
One of the major Czech phone companies, Vodafone, says it has launched a complaint against network services provider CETIN over its latest package of wholesale prices for fixed Internet connection. Vodafone has complained to the Czech competition office and the regulator for the telecoms sector saying the sharp rise in charges which would affect it are an abuse of CETIN’s dominant position. It added that the charges would only suit phone operators with bigger volumes of business, such as O2. CETIN shares the same owner as O2, which is the Czech group PPF.
Moves to have a blanket ban on smoking in restaurants, bars, and similar premises took another step forwards on Wednesday. The government proposal was backed by the lower house’s health committee by 18 votes to 21. An amendment calling for the current situation where owners are allowed to say whether premises are smoking or non-smoking was defeated. A move to drop another proposed measure for restaurants and bars to be obliged to offer one non-alcoholic drink cheaper than beer also failed. The Czech Republic has been characterized as one of the last smoking outposts in Europe because of its current rules.
Heavy snow Wednesday caused a series of accidents on Czech roads with three major motorways closed at different times after accidents. Forecasters issued warnings of drifting snow and complications for much of northern, central, and eastern Bohemia as up to 10 centimeters of snow fell during in some areas during the morning. The warning continues for central Bohemia and high lying ground for the rest of the day. Treacherously icy conditions could develop overnight in some parts of the country, the weather office has warned.
The mayor of the country’s second city, Brno, Petr Vokrál and other members of the city council are the subject of anonymous threats over plans to convert premises in the Královo Pole district into a prayer room for Moslems. The anonymous threats warn that if the city council members do not block the plans by a local Moslem businessperson, who has lived in the city for 20 years, then she will. Police are investigating the threats.
In football, Sparta Prague are facing the upcoming Europa League tie against Russia’s Krasnodar with top striker and captain David Lafata unlikely to play. Lafata has been nursing a muscle strain for several weeks which resulted in him missing Saturday’s league match and most of the previous warm up games. The two leg tie against Krasnodar takes place in Prague on Thursday night. Sparta are the last Czech club remaining in European competitions.
The Czech prime minister will also take to Brussels the message that planned reforms sought by Britain to curb immigration from other EU countries cannot impact foreign workers already in employment and paying into the British social system. It was not simply possible to change the rules for those already in work, Secretary of State for European Affairs Tomáš Prouza explained. The Brussels summit should grabble with the reform package sought by British Prime Minister David Cameron as well as the broader immigration issue. Cameron is seeking to finalise a reform package that could be put to a referendum on continued EU membership which could be held as early as June. Prouza said concessions to Britain had already been made in other areas.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will go the Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday with the message that Turkey has a few weeks to prove that it can stem the flow of immigrants across its territory to Europe. If not, then the European Union will have to be ready with alternative preparations. That was the mandate agreed by the government meeting on Wednesday. Secretary of State for European Affairs Tomáš Prouza said Turkey had until mid-March to prove that it could fulfill an agreement with the EU on immigration. He added that the Czech government was ready to offer Bulgaria the same sort of aid to help boost its border protection now made available to Macedonia.
Architects are to be invited to take part in a competition to reshape the Nákladového nádraží Žižkov rail freight station in Prague, following a decision by the local council. Under a long-term plan the extensive complex is to be turned into an arts and education hub. Local officials say they will work in conjunction with the Prague Institute of Planning and Development and the owners, a consortium of Czech Railways and developers Sekyra Group.
Vlastimil Pechanec, who was found guilty of the racially motivated murder of a Romany man, is to stand for the far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice in October’s regional elections, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Wednesday. In 2012 Plechanec was sentenced to 17 years for the stabbing to death of Ota Absolon at a disco in the town of Svitavy but was released after serving two-thirds of the sentence. He had previously been found guilty of hooliganism and grievous bodily harm. The Workers’ Party of Social Justice grew out of the Workers’ Party, which was banned in 2010 over its neo-Nazi politics.