The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed receiving a protest note from Russia about alleged ‘vandalism’ to a memorial to the Red Army in the Second World War. A plaque bearing the message ‘With gratitude to the Red Army’ and a five pronged star were taken from the memorial at the town of Malé Březno, near Most. The protest note described the action as vandalism and called for steps to be taken to ensure that it is not repeated. Repairs to the memorial, which were completed at the end of last year, are reported to have caused friction in the town. The mayor said they had hoped to find the missing elements from the memorial themselves but it now looks like the police will also be involved.
The Japanese brewery Asahi took over one of the Czech Republic’s biggest breweries, Plzeňský Prazdroj, On Friday. The brewery was bought, alongside with four other European brewers, from the multinational SABMiller. The Czech brewer, the biggest in the country, will now be part of Asahi Breweries Europe and will be answerable to the Tokyo company headquarters. The regional headquarters will be in Prague. The sale of some SABMiller assets was the price demanded by the European Commission for clearance of its purchase by AB InBev. Pilsner Urquell is the best known beer produced by the Plzeň brewery.
The winner of the Prague Febiofest Grand Prix award is Icelandic writer and director Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson for his film Heartstone. The 35-year-old director has said the Danish-Icelandic co-production is partly based on his own experience growing up in an isolated Icelandic fishing village. The film has already won prizes at Chicago, Solun, and Warsaw festivals. A special award is to be given to Serbian film director and musician Emir Kusturica for his lifetime contribution to cinema.
Pioneering Czech and international surgeon Vladimír Kočanderle has died at the age of 83. Kočanderle led the team I 1984 that carried out the first successful heart transplant in the then Czechoslovakia. Some of the preparation for that were made in the United States, including at the prestigious Stanford University. He also pioneered kidney and pancreas transplants. Kočanderle was for seven years the head of the Prague’s Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) until the early 1990s. A member of the ruling Communist party, Kočanderle said that his pioneering work would not have been possible without link to top party members.
Czech economic growth in 2016 came in at 2.3 percent, the Czech Statistical Office confirmed on Friday. Growth in the last quarter of the year was 1.9 percent. The office said that average household income rose by a real 3.1 percent in the year with spending by households up 2.7 percent. The amount of income taken by foreign companies as a result of the ownership of Czech firms came to 8.4 percent of GDP in 2016.
The Penta investment group has made a bid to buy out minority shareholders in the Fortuna betting company. Penta owns around 68 percent of the company but some of the outstanding shares are traded on Prague and Warsaw stock exchanges. Penta explains the move saying that it wants to be a long term investor in the betting company. Česká Spořitelna is managing the buy out and is offering 98.69 crowns per share although Fortuna shares were recently trading higher at 108 crowns a share.
Police have broken up an international gang that used Czechs to smuggle hashish between Denmark and Greenland. Two Czechs were caught red-handed in a police swoop in Greenland and found in possession of one kilogram of the drug. They have been deported back to the Czech Republic. Another five Czechs have been arrested in their homeland. Police carried out long term surveillance of the sophisticated smuggling operation that profited from the high price of the drug in Greenland. The ringleader was a US citizen living in Denmark but a Czech was highly placed in the logistics of the operation. Some drugs were also shipped to the Czech Republic for sale, mostly in the South Moravia region.
Friday is the last day people can exchange the 50-crown banknote, featuring Saint Agnes of Bohemia, for the copper and zinc coin of the same denomination. The banknote had been gradually withdrawn from circulation and ceased to be legal tender as of April 2011 on account of the coin’s greater durability. According to the Czech National Bank, people still have around 11.6 million banknotes with a value reaching 581 million crowns. People can exchange the notes for free by Friday evening at the branches of the Czech National bank across the country.
In tennis, Czech second seed Karolína Plíšková failed to reach the finals of the Miami Open tournament after she was defeated by former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 5-7, 6-1, 6-1. In men’s singles quarter-finals, Tomáš Berdych lost to Roger Federer 6-2 3-6 7-6. Berdych served for the match at 6-4 in the tiebreak, but Federer reeled off four points in a row, winning when Berdych double-faulted.