Prime Minister Petr Nečas has refused an invitation from President Klaus to attend the traditional New Year’s lunch at Lány Chateau. No reason has been given for the refusal. Commentators note that relations between the president and prime minister have been increasingly strained in recent months. The president’s office has confirmed that the head of state will meet with the speakers of the lower and upper house of Parliament on Thursday. President Klaus’ second term in office is due to expire in March.
The Czech junior hockey team won its second straight game at the U20 Championships on Sunday defeating Latvia by a score of 4:2. The game was close throughout: the Czechs twice led by one goal, both times Latvia squared the game. The Czech squad was only able to jump ahead some six minutes from the end of the 3rd period. Three of the team’s goals came on the powerplay. In order to reach the knockout quarterfinals stage the Czechs need – at worst – a draw with Switzerland.
Skiers in the Šumava Mountains will symbolically see the New Year in with a torch ride down one of the mountain’s steepest slopes starting at 5,30 this evening. The night’s celebrations will culminate with an open-air party at the bottom of the slope with bonfires, food, drink, live music and a fireworks display at midnight. This popular tradition dates back to 1948.
Three people were injured in a collision involving two trams near Prague’s Hradčanská metro station in the early hours of Monday. One of the drivers allegedly failed to brake in time as he approached a tram stop ramming into a stationary vehicle in front of him. One of the injured suffered a broken leg, the other two had lighter injuries. The accident slowed down traffic in the vicinity since firemen were called to dislodge the trams.
New Year’s celebrations are due to take place on Prague’s Old Town Square where Prague City Hall has prepared a special programme starting at 2pm in the afternoon. People also traditionally gather on Wenceslas Square for midnight fireworks followed by a street party. Some 200 officers will out to maintain law and order in the city centre and traffic restrictions will be in place on Wenceslas Square after 4pm. In line with a special regulation relating to the recent spate of methanol poisonings, street vendors will not be allowed to sell spirits. The metro will run for an hour later than usual closing down at 1am on January 1st. Prague City Hall has scheduled a New Year’s fireworks display for 6pm on Tuesday.
Czech goalie Petr Čech, who plays for London football club Chelsea, will undergo a scan on Monday to determine the extent of an injury suffered in the club’s match against Everton on Sunday. The goalkeeper played only in the first half after suffering pain in his groin shortly before the break. Chelsea won the game 2-1 and remains in third spot in the Premier League, behind Manchester United and Manchester City.
Repeats of Czech comedies and live-action fairytales continue to dominate among broadcasters at the holidays the Czech news agency reports. Both public and commercial broadcasters bet on classic films, some of which have been repeated more than 20 times. According to ČTK, the all-time record holder is the 60-year-old fairytale Pyšná princezna (Proud Princess) broadcast 30 times in the Czech Republic and the former Czechoslovakia. Back when it was originally shown in the cinemas, it was seen by eight million people. On TV screens, the film is statistically followed by Princezna se zlatou hvězdou na čele (The Princess with the Gold Star on her Brow) which has been repeated 22 times, and classic comedies by Vlasta Burian as well as the 1970s popular retelling of Cinderella Tři oříšky pro Popelku starring Libuše Šafránková.
Russian investigators are examining evidence from the two black boxes recovered from a Tu-204 jet which crashed during landing in Moscow on Saturday after returning from Pardubice in the Czech Republic. Four people from the eight-person crew died in the crash or shortly afterwards; a fifth person succumbed to injuries on Sunday; three remain in hospital with serious injuries. There were no others on board the medium-sized jet which normally carries up to 210 people. The pilots made several attempts to land before the crash: a faulty braking system may have played a role. During the unsuccessful landing the plane departed the runway and crashed through a barricade separating the airfield from a nearby highway. The plane broke into three parts and burst into flames. A Russian tabloid cited a witness who said the plane had been billowing smoke even before the crash.
Snow and ice have complicated the situation on roads in parts of the country, namely in the regions of Olomouc, the Czech-Moravian highlands and eastern Bohemia. Central Bohemia by comparison on Sunday saw increased fog. Drivers are advised to exercise maximum caution along smaller routes but also on the country’s main highways, including the D1.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová began the new season with a win in the first round at the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament. The player, ranked 8th in the WTA rankings, downed Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets by a score of 6:3, 6:4. During the match Kvitová broke her opponent’s serve five times but her own service was less than steady, broken three times. The 22-year-old player’s coach David Kotyza described her performance “as solid” but made clear there was room for improvement.
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