An enormous Christmas tree that will adorn Prague’s Old Town Square over the holiday season was cut down by the village of Rataje nad Sázavou in central Bohemia on Sunday. The 24-metre pine, believed to be about 80 years old, was felled by two-time Czech chainsaw champion Jiří Vorlíček, a native of Rataje nad Sázavou, in front of a crowd of around 200 people. After a complicated journey to the capital, the tree will be erected on Tuesday and ceremonially unveiled on Saturday.
The chairman of ANO, Andrej Babiš, says the party would like its choice – the director of the Czech branch of Transparency International, David Ondráček – to be named minister of the interior. However, the Social Democrats, who came first in elections a month ago, are also eyeing the interior portfolio. Mr. Ondráček has said he would consider accepting the post. In earlier talks on forming a coalition, possibly with the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and ANO agreed that the former would take the post of speaker of the Chamber of Deputies while the latter would get the job of finance minister. The Social Democrats received just over 22.08 percent of the vote in elections four weeks ago, with ANO coming second on 18.65 percent.
Sparta Prague remain five points clear in the Czech soccer league, after coming from behind to beat Mladá Boleslav 4:1 in the capital on Saturday evening. The game was part of celebrations marking the 120th anniversary of the club. Second placed Viktoria Plzeň, who are reigning champions, had earlier beaten Brno 3:1 away.
Karel Gott has won the Český slavík (Czech Nightingale) award once again. The 74-year-old pop singer has won the prize, which is decided by a public vote, 38 times since it was launched in 1963 but last year was beaten to it by Tomáš Klus. Mr. Gott did not attend Saturday night’s ceremony at Prague’s State Opera as he was touring in Germany, where he is also very popular. Awards in other categories went to Lucie Bílá and the group Kryštof.
Viktoria Plzeň have asked Zdeněk Zeman, who has mainly been working in Italian football since the early 1980s, to take over as coach following the news that Pavel Vrba will become manager of the Czech national team, the news website iDnes.cz reported. Zeman, who is 66, has managed a number of Serie A clubs, including Roma, Lazio and Napoli. A representative of Plzeň refused to confirm that the club has spoken to the coach, who moved to Italy in 1968.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, says the interpretation of a law preventing collaborators with the communist-era secret police holding high office should not be allowed to hold up talks on forming coalition. ANO chief Andrej Babiš has appeared on a list of secret police collaborators and is currently fighting allegations he cooperated with them in the courts in his native Slovakia. If he does not acquire a lustration (screening) certificate, he will not be able to enter government. Mr. Sobotka said on a TV debate show on Sunday that, 25 years after the revolution, it was time to ask whether the law should still be enforced.
With temperatures falling markedly, forecasters are warning of ice and snow drifts on Monday, particularly in parts of the eastern province of Moravia. Some 20 centimetres of snow is expected to fall in mountainous areas of the Czech Republic between now and Tuesday morning. Motorists are being warned to drive carefully in the Olomouc, Zlín and Moravia-Silesia regions.
Police in South Africa have arrested the Czech fugitive Radovan Krejčíř on suspicion of attempted murder and kidnapping. At a news conference on Saturday, the head of the country’s police force said they would not reveal where Mr. Krejčíř, who will be arraigned in court on Monday, was being held. Mr. Krejčíř has been found guilty of tax evasion and embezzlement in the Czech Republic and fled the country after escaping during a police search of his home. He has been linked to a number of serious crimes in South Africa in the last six years and has been arrested several times.
Despite the fact he will turn 42 during the Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi in February, the ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr says he does not rule out also representing the Czech Republic in the following Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. Jágr told the Star-Ledger newspaper that people had laughed when he said he would play at the World Championships in Prague in 2015, but that was now just a year away. The Kladno-born legend has just scored his 690th NHL goal, tying with the great Mario Lemieux on the league’s all-time scoring list.
The minister of labour of social affairs in the interim government in resignation, František Koníček, has filed four criminal complaints in connection with projects implemented by his predecessors, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. Three of the projects involved Jaromír Drábek, who was minister from July 2010 to October last year, and his then deputy Vladimír Šiška, the newspaper said. One of the complaints concerns a contract to supply IT systems for social welfare payments, which was allegedly agreed without a public tender. Mr. Šiška already faced different charges over a disputed CZK 1 billion deal for a system intended to increase the efficiency of social welfare payments.
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