ANO have officially approved Pavel Telička as the leader of their candidates for elections to the European Parliament in May. Mr. Telička, a former diplomat and lobbyist, led the Czech negotiating team ahead of the country’s accession to the EU and was a European Commissioner for six months in 2004. In the elections on May 23 and 24, TOP 09’s campaign will be headed by former central bank vice-governor Luděk Niedermayer, sociologist Jan Keller will lead the Social Democrats, Kateřina Konečná will be the face of the Communist Party and Pavel Svoboda will head the Christian Democrats’ ticket.
The Czech cross-country skier Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová finished fifth in the 30km free at the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Saturday. It was the best result of her career. Earlier, snowboarder Ester Ledecká finished sixth in the slalom The Czech Republic has a total of eight medals from Sochi, two more than the country’s previous Winter Olympics tally.
Around 200 people gathered on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of the shooting down of an American B-24 Liberator plane at Nepomuk near Plzeň. Nine crew members died in the wreckage of the heavy bomber on 22 February 1944. One member, gunner Raymond Noury, miraculously survived and was held as a POW by the Germans until the end of the war; he later twice visited the village and had planned to attend Saturday’s ceremony but died in December.
The Czech Republic’s main film prizes, the Czech Lions, are due to be presented at a ceremony at Prague’s Rudolfinum on Saturday night. It is the first time the awards, now solely organised by the Czech Film and Television Academy, are being handed out at that venue. The films with the most nominations are Burning Bush, Agnieszka Holland’s depiction of the aftermath of the self-immolation of Jan Palach, with 14, and Zdeněk Tyc’s drama Like Never Before, with 12.
There has been a relatively low incidence of influenza in the Czech Republic this winter, the country’s chief hygiene officer, Vladimír Valenta, told the Czech News Agency. While 100 people had died of the flu by this time last year, there has been only one such death to date this winter. The country was hit by a major flu epidemic last year and if it experiences one this year it is unlikely to be so serious, Mr. Valenta said. The official pointed out that epidemics came in cycles and did not necessarily occur annually.
There will be 11 kiosks selling fast food, flowers and newspapers on Prague’s Wenceslas Square from next year, a city councilor told the Czech News Agency. There are currently seven on the city’s main thoroughfare, down from 23 in 2012, when Prague abrogated contracts with several stall holders; many are now standing empty. The issue of kiosks on Wenceslas Square has been the subject of some controversy, with objections from preservations leading to the rejection of new designs that were due to go up last year.
The Czech government welcomes the deal reached on Friday between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the country’s opposition leaders, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said. After days of violent clashes which left more than 70 people dead, the deal paves the ways for forming a new government and an early general election. Mr Sobotka told reporters on Friday that in case of need, the Czech Republic was ready to accept hundreds of refugees from Ukraine and help provide medical care for those injured during the conflict. However, Czech authorities have not registered any increase in the number of people seeking asylum in the country.
Developers expect the growth of Prague’s residential market to continue this year, according to an analysis by the CEEC Research agency. The offer of new residential real estate in the capital is expected to increase by 7.4 percent in 2014 while demand should grow by 3.6 percent, the head of the research agency said. However, the consultancy KPMG said the survey reflects the developers’ optimistic expectations; while not unrealistic, the analysis reflects a situation when a combination of low interest rates and an expected general economic recovery create favourable conditions for residential development.
Czech Railways’ new board of directors on Friday elected Daniel Kurucz new CEO of the state-owned firm. Mr Kurucz, who has served as Czech Railways’ deputy director for economics, was elected at the board’s first meeting. The new CEO told reporters he was planning to reduce the number of employees and cut the firm’s expenditures by 200 million crowns. In 2012, Czech Railways posted a loss of 1.6 billion crowns. Daniel Kurucz joined Czech Railways last year after heading a chemical firm, part of Agrofert Group owned by ANO leader and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš. The party also holds the Transport Ministry.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek will discuss the situation in Ukraine with ministers from Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia at a Visegrad Four meeting in Budapest on Monday. The meeting will also be attended by representatives of Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece. One issue likely to be raised is whether visa restrictions on Ukrainians can be relaxed if the situation in their country deteriorates even further. The Czech minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said on Wednesday that such a step could be taken.
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