Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has welcomed the EU deal reached with Britain. In a tweet shortly after agreement was reached Mr. Sobotka said it was a compromise that should help keep Britain in the EU. The Czech Secretary of State for EU affairs Tomáš Prouza told Czech Television that the Czech side was satisfied with the conditions of the agreement saying it would adequately protect Czechs working in Great Britain. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council said the deal had received unanimous support.
President Putin has appointed career diplomat Alexander Zmeyevsky the new Russian ambassador to Prague, according to the Kremlin. Zmeyevsky will replace the current Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic, Sergei Kiselyov, whose term in office ends in March. Alexander Zmeyevsky has been in diplomatic service since 1979. In 2011 he became Russia’s special envoy for international cooperation in combating terrorism and organized crime.
The authorities have registered a steep increase in social welfare fraud, the CTK news agency reports. Labour offices uncovered over 16,000 cases of social welfare fraud in 2015 amounting to over 103 million crowns; in 2014 they registered only 9,370 cases to the tune of 65 million crowns. Most of the cases related to housing benefits.
A third group of Christian refugees from Iraq arrived in the Czech Republic on Friday. The 40 member group will be taken to facilities in Brno, Smilovice and Okrouhlík near Jihlava where they will spend two months getting their bearings and learning Czech before moving to a place of their own. The relocation of altogether 150 Iraqi refugees from Mosul is being financed by the Generation 21 foundation.
Speaking on the issue of migration, the Czech prime minister said his country fully supported the EU agreements reached with Greece and Turkey. He said the priority now was for them to fulfill their obligations. Mr. Sobotka said the alternative plan of securing the border between Macedonia and Greece and Bulgaria and Greece discussed at this week’s Visegrad summit in Prague was merely a back-up plan in the event that Turkey and Greece failed to stem the flow of migrants in the coming months. He said the plan was in no way rival to that currently backed by the 28 member block.
The Autonomous Social Center Klinika will not be allowed to extend its lease on the Žižkov building where it now operates, the ctk news agency reported on Friday. An extension of the contract was refused by the Prague 3 construction office on the grounds that the building had been certified as a health facility and could not legally serve for other purposes. Klinika’s lease expires on March 2. The construction office says it will offer the building to a number of public institutions and if they do not show interest put it on the market.The centre, which helps the homeless and migrants, was recently attacked by extremists during an anti-migrant demonstration in Prague.
One of the four suspects on trial in the robbery of the century- the theft of 77million crowns from a security van ten years ago – told the regional court in Brno on Friday that the head of security had been an accomplice in the crime. Roman Dolíhal further revealed that the robbery had been planned and arranged by his brother, who is also charged. According to Dolíhal his brother also killed the man four years later.
The parking lot on Malostranské náměstí, one of the city’s historic squares, is to be abolished as of July 1st 2016. The decision was announced by the Prague City Hall which is planning a major overhaul of the square situated in the Lesser Town. The city hall says it wants to make the square more people-friendly with seating arrangements, greenery and the possibility to hold farmers markets there. The plans have raised the ire of a number of MPs who used the parking lot on a daily basis.
The police have charged four people with the contract killing of a Slovak national in 2012. According to the head of the organized crime unit Pavel Hanták the Slovak was killed because he witnessed a major drugs deal. The body was later found buried in a forest in the former military training ground in Ralsko. If convicted the men face 20 years to a life sentence.
The Czech National Gallery has failed to return the valuable gothic painting, the Madonna of Veveří, to the Catholic Church. According to a previous ruling of a Prague court, the painting was recognised as the property of the church and the gallery was supposed to hand it over by Thursday, February 18. The church’s lawyer František Severin said it would call in the bailiffs if the deadline was not met. The National Gallery’s spokeswoman, Tereza Ježková, said they were ready to release the painting as soon as they have all the necessary documents. The Madonna of Veveří, from the first half of the 14th century, is ascribed to an artist close to the Master of Vyšší Brod. Until 1938 it decorated the interior of a church at the Veveří Castle.