The Florida Panthers qualified for only the second time this century for hockey’s Stanley Cup playoffs, getting help from the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday who defeated closest contender in the Atlantic Division the Boston Bruins. The only other year Florida qualified this century was in 2011/12. Florida is home to legendary Czech player Jaromír Jágr, who won two back-to-back Stanley Cups at the start of his NHL career with the Pittsburgh Penguins and later came close with the Boston Bruins. Jágr, 44, has had an excellent regular season with 26 goals and 62 points; fellow player Brian Campbell expressed confidence that Florida would continue to improve with four games remaining in the regular season.
The spokesman for EPH, Daniel Častvaj, issued a statement on Monday in connection with the Panama Papers leak, which named billionaire Daniel Křetinský and 282 other Czechs among thousands of others. The papers are thought to make clear how the world elite take advantage of tax havens. In the statement, Mr Častvaj said that Mr Křetinský had never made use of Panamanian or other anonymous structures to hide the ownership structure of his businesses; nor, he said, had the businessman ever made use of illegal or unethical means in the area of tax planning. The press release called the ownership of EPH, EP Industries, Czech News Centre and other groups “fully transparent”. The PPF Group also reacted to the listing of billionaire Petr Kellner, saying that property owned on the Virgin Islands dated back to when Mr Kellner and his wife had lived and conducted business there. Mr Kellner is the majority owner of PPF.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has said he will want an explanation why Germany allowed 25 Iraqi nationals to apply for asylum there instead of returning them to the Czech Republic where the Iraqis were accepted as part of a relocation programme organised by the foundation Generace 21. The interior minister expressed the opinion that the asylum seekers should have been turned back, saying the decision had set a precedent.
The pilot of an ultralight plane was killed in a crash in the area of Ústí nad Labem, north Bohemia, on Monday. The accident took place near the Airport Sports Centre in Všebořice. According to reports, the one-seat plane crashed in a local waste dump. Investigators have not revealed the age of the pilot or additional details of the crash.
Czech Radio reports that 283 Czechs are among those named in the Panama Papers – an unprecedented leak of more than 11 million files (2.6 terabytes) from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm. According to the broadcaster, 250,000 files are Czech-related. The data leak, the Guardian reported, appeared to reveal how secretive offshore tax regimes can be exploited. Connections have been found to top world leaders as well as business figures. Pavla Holcová of the website Investigace.cz, currently analysing the data, told Czech Radio that Czechs with links included solar business figures and people in IT. Top businessmen Petr Kellner and Daniel Křetinský as well, eBanka, were among those listed, she confirmed. Analysts have said they do not expect an impact on the Czech political scene unless shady political connections are revealed.
A bus which had been expected to return to the Czech Republic with 25 Christian refugees from Iraq detained at the German border on Sunday, returned without them, the head of the coach firm confirmed. The Iraqis, who rejected the Czechs' resettlement programme and had asked for their passports back, applied for asylum in Germany instead. On Friday, in reaction to the developing situation, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec temporarily suspended the resettlement program of the Christian families at risk.
Choreographer and founder of the Prague Chamber Ballet Pavel Šmok has died at the age of 88. In 1964, Mr Šmok, Luboš Ogoun, and Vladimír Vašut founded Studio Ballet Prague, which Šmok continued in 1975 as the Prague Chamber Ballet. The largest Czech independent professional dance company, the ballet has presented Czech dance in many countries around the world. Pavel Šmok himself headed the company for two decades.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, the leader of the ANO movement, remains the most popular of Czech politicians according to a new poll released by the STEM agency. The minister racked up 56 percent approval among respondents, ahead of the defence minister, Martin Stropnický (also ANO) and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democratic party (50 percent). In a similar poll in December, Mr Babiš had 61 percent approval.
The Kurdish YPG militia has opened its representation office for Europe in Prague on Sunday, the organisation announced in its press release. The group says it wants to strive in the Czech Republic for political, civic and humanitarian aid in the fight with Islamic terrorism. Apart from the YPG, there will also be representatives of the Kurdish Women's Protection, the YPJ, in Prague. The Czech Republic, however, does not officially recognise the Syrian Kurdistan as an independent or autonomous state entity and therefore it doesn’t recognise any of its political representations, the Foreign Ministry said on its website.
Czech tennis player Lucie Šafářová teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States has won the doubles final at the Miami Masters tournament, clinching the first title of this season. The third seeded duo defeated the Czech-American pair Timea Babos of Hungary and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakshtan by a score of 6:3, 6:4.