Strong winds and icy roads have been causing traffic problems in parts of the Czech Republic. In some places, roads were blocked by fallen branches on Tuesday, while snow covered some roads, mainly in the west, east and north-east of the country. Police warned drivers to exercise extra caution while meteorologists said weather conditions were not likely to improve much during the day.
Staff at Prague Zoo have been forced to put down a rare Sumatran tiger born there in July. Vets had discovered that the animal, which had first been presented to the public at Christmas, had a form of hereditary kidney disease. The male tiger cub was put down two weeks ago but the zoo did not announce the news on its website until Tuesday. Sumatran tigers are seriously endangered; there are around 400 at a reservation in Indonesia and about 100 in European zoos.
Prime Minister Sobotka says he has reached agreement with ANO chief and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš over the placing of a Social Democrat deputy minister at the Finance Ministry, in keeping with a tradition of coalition parties having officials at that level at ministries they do not control. However, Mr. Sobotka did not reveal the name of his party’s candidate after talks with Mr. Babiš on Tuesday. The latter had previously refused to accept the Social Democrats’ Jiří Peřina as deputy minister for taxation.
The leading Czech downhill skier Šárka Strachová (née Záhrobská) says she is hoping to take a medal at what will be her last Winter Olympics in Sochi. Before flying to Russia on Tuesday, the 28-year-old, who will carry the Czech flag at Friday’s opening ceremony, said she would train in Austria for a week between her two events, the super combined competition and the slalom, as no slopes would be available in Sochi for practicing. Strachová took bronze in the slalom in Vancouver four years ago.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has expressed backing for the construction of a distribution centre by the internet retail giant Amazon in the Moravian capital Brno. After a meeting on Monday with Brno’s mayor, Roman Onderka, Mr. Sobotka promised state support for the building of a new exit off the D1 motorway leading to the site of the proposed distribution centre. The prime minister also backs the building of a second Amazon centre at Dobrovíz near Prague, which has come in for local opposition. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said recently that if the online retailer did not invest in the Czech Republic it would do so in Poland or Slovakia.
The recently appointed three-party coalition government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will seek a confidence vote on February 18, deputies decided on Tuesday. Under Czech law, a new government has 30 days to win approval in the lower house. The government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats has 111 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
A new documentary about the late Czech documentary maker Pavel Koutecký is set to receive its premiere in Prague on Tuesday night. Jana Počtová’s film, entitled Fragmenty P.K. (Fragments of P.K.), maps the life and work of Koutecký, who was killed in 2006 before completing one of the most successful Czech documentaries of recent years, Občan Havel (Citizen Havel), a portrait of the former president. Koutecký died after falling from an uncompleted Prague skyscraper at the age of 49.
The Czech Foreign Ministry and NGOs have distributed over 160 million crowns in aid to Syria since the crisis began, the ČTK news agency reported on Monday citing the country’s leading humanitarian organization People in Need. According to People in Need close to 40 percent of the NGO’s aid budget is now going to Syria where the organization operates two offices with the help of 50 local volunteers. The NGO supports 25 schools in the country and distributed daily bread portions to 20,000 people. It also brings aid to refugee camps in surrounding countries such as Turkey.
The Czech economy is showing signs of substantial recovery, the news website ihned.cz reported on Monday. The country’s purchasing managers’ index, based on the volume of new industrial orders, rose by 1.8 points to 55.9 points in January, the highest it has been since May 2011, according to the consultancy Markit Economics. The Czech employment rate, meanwhile, exceeded 68 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, which is the highest level since 1998 says the Czech Statistics Office; the unemployment rate, calculated according to methods by the International Labour Organization, dropped annually by 0.4 percent to 6.8 percent in the same period. Analysts believe the latest figures show a positive outlook for the Czech economy in 2014.
In related news, Prague City Hall fined Matragi Fashion, a firm co-owned by fashion designer Blanka Matragi, over the destruction of a villa in Prague 6 listed as a protected monument, the news agency the head of the city hall’s monument protection department said. ČTK reported. The amount of the fine was not disclosed but could reach two million crowns. The fashion company received permission to renovate the villa, located in the Ořechovka district; however, the building collapsed in the process and was completely removed. The company has filed an appeal against the fine to the Culture Ministry.
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