Petr Gazdík was re-elected the chairman of the STAN party of mayors and independents at the party congress held in Prague on Saturday. He won backing from 93 percent of those voting. The party was due later Saturday to decide whether to give its final approval for an electoral alliance with the Christian Democrats going into the lower house elections in October this year. The head of the Christian Democrats, Pavel Bělobrádek addressed the STAN party congress. He said later that it was 99 percent certain that the alliance would go ahead.
Eva Samková has for the first time won the world cup title for snowboardcross. The Olympic champion assured her first place in the series after being placed second in the final competition in Veysonnaz, Switzerland, on Saturday. With 480 points going into the final competition, Samková knew that a place on the winner’s podium would be enough to secure the crystal globe ahead of Italian rival Michela Moioli. The win will help compensate for the fact that the Czech came only 12th in the world championships.
The body of deceased Cardinal Miloslav Vlk was placed in a tomb at St Vitus’ Cathedral, Prague, following a funeral service on Saturday. Around 2,000 people attended the funeral ceremony. Archbishop Vlk died a week ago at the age of 84. Saturday’s mass was conducted by Prague archbishop and Cardinal Dominik Duka. He recalled Miloslav Vlk’s efforts to restore the significance of the Catholic Church after the 1989 revolution which overthrew communism. Vlk became Prague archbishop in 1991. Vlk had been frequently a victim of the communist regime, having his license to preach revoked and being forced to undertake manual jobs such as a factory worker and window cleaner.
Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka has invited Pope Francis to visit the Czech Republic. The invitation was made during an audience with the pope as EU leaders gathered in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the founding treaty of what was to become the European Community. The papal visit could take place in June when the 75th anniversary of the destruction of the Czech village of Lidice by the Nazis will be marked. An earlier invitation had already been made by Czech head of state Miloš Zeman.
A convoy of British and US troops will on Saturday cross the Czech Republic on their way from Germany to Poland to take part in NATO exercises. Around 550 soldiers with around 125 pieces of heavy equipment will form the convoy. They are expected to cross the western Czech border at Rozvadov at around 9 am and will stay overnight at Stará Boleslav. They should enter Poland on Sunday. Three similar convoys have crossed the country in the past two years with the first welcomed by thousands of people at various stops along the way.
In ice hockey, champions Liberec booked the last place in the Extraliga semi-finals with a 5:4 victory against Plzeň on Friday night. The win gave them a 4:2 victory in the series and they will now face Chomutov in the semi-final. The other semi-final will be played between Hradec Králové and Kometa Brno.
Liberec Zoo has reported the birth of a rare Philippine spotted deer, an endangered species of deer which can only be found on two islands in the Philippines. Its numbers have severely decreased in recent years due to the fact that it has been pushed out of its natural habitat. Despite being a protected breed it is still hunted for meat and its horns by the locals. There are only about 2,500 specimens left in the wild today.
The ANO party of Finance Minister Andrej Babis is holding a strong lead over its political rivals in public trust ratings. If elections were held today the party would win 32.5 percent of the vote, according to a March survey conducted by the CVVM agency. The Social Democrats of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka would come second with 22 percent and the Communist Party would place third with 12 percent of the vote. The opposition centre-right Civic Democrats would get 8.5 percent, the Christian Democrats of the ruling coalition 6.5 and the centre-right TOP 09 party would just cross the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house.