An estimated 3,000 coal miners held a demonstration in the eastern city of Ostrava on Tuesday against job cuts, plans to cut their salaries and the mooted closure of the city’s Paskov mine. A small number of protesters broke into a building that formerly housed the OKD mining company after the main demonstration ended. The firm says poor financial results and the state of the coal market are forcing it to make marked savings and hundreds of layoffs. Talks between OKD and union leaders have failed to reach agreement on a way forward.
Meanwhile, Plzeň have been knocked off top spot in the Czech first division by Sparta Prague. After the reigning champions drew with Slovan Liberec at the weekend, Sparta went two points ahead with a 2:0 away win over Znojmo on Monday evening thanks to goals from captain David Lafata and Jakub Brabec.
The authorities in Prague have decided to take action against people urinating in public, Novinky.cz reported on Tuesday. Officials have asked members of the city police to draw up a list of spots, such as tram stops, which are particularly badly affected, the news website said. A police spokesperson said that officers, who can fine those over the age of 15 who urinate in public up to CZK 1,000, have to deal with the problem frequently. Special cleaning agents containing chlorine are used in some parts of the downtown area.
The Dalai Lama says he does not mind the fact that the current and most recent Czech presidents, Miloš Zeman and Václav Klaus, have refused to meet him. Speaking on the last day of the Forum 2000 conference in Prague, the Tibetan spiritual leader said that as he did not have an agenda linked to the Czech government, meetings with such important leaders were not so important. Some Czech politicians have in the past expressed the opinion that supporting the Dalai Lama, who was a good friend of the late president Václav Havel, could damage the country’s economic ties with China.
The Czech Republic’s biggest power company CEZ says it will cut electricity prices for its most commonly used tariff by 15 percent from the start of next year. Customers who sign long-term contracts can receive a reduction of 20 percent. Tuesday’s announcement follows reports that other large power suppliers are also planning to lower their prices. The head of CEZ, Daniel Beneš, told reporters that households that use electricity for heating would save around CZK 5,000 a year.
Viktoria Plzeň are preparing to host England’s Manchester City on Tuesday night in their opening group game in the Champions League, soccer’s most prestigious club tournament. In view of the visitors’ immense wealth the West Bohemian side go into the match as outsiders. However, they will be hoping to capitalise on the European experience they have acquired in the last two seasons and City’s unconvincing form in the Premier League. The other two teams in Plzeň’s group are title-holders Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow.
A man released under an amnesty at the start of the year has been given a 12-year jail term for the murder of a homeless Slovak man in Prague. The court heard how Miloš Svozil stabbed his victim to death after getting in a dispute with him and a group of other homeless people in the city’s Podolí district in February. Some 6,500 prisoners were released under a controversial amnesty announced on New Year’s Day by Václav Klaus, shortly before he stood down as president.
The police are investigating the financing of the controversial Blanka tunnel project in Prague, the Czech News Agency reported on Tuesday. Detectives from the force’s organised crime unit suspect breach of competition rules and breach of trust in connection with the enormous construction project, which to date has cost the city CZK 27 billion. The investigation is centred on a City Hall decree from last year approving a mechanism aimed at settling large debts owed to construction firms. The tunnel, which some environmentalists have criticised, is due to open next year.
Prague’s traditional municipal New Year’s fireworks show will this year be launched from the city’s Letná Park rather than from the previous location on the River Vltava, under a plan approved by councilors on Tuesday. Following a discussion on when exactly the New Year’s Day event should be held, the time of 18:01 won in a public vote. Letting off the fireworks from a pontoon between Střelecký Ostrov island and Charles Bridge have led in the past to traffic disruptions.
An Italian soldier has died after being injured in an accident at Chynov, south Bohemia, a Czech military spokesperson said. The soldier, who was 36, was a passenger in a car that crashed into a railway viaduct during the Ramstein Rover 2013 international military exercise. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
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