War pilot Miroslav Štandera, who flew with the RAF piloting aircraft in France and Britain during World War Two, died on Wednesday aged 95, a spokeswoman for Plzen city hall, told the ctk news agency. After the communists seized power in then Czechoslovakia in 1948, Štandera fled to Britain where he stayed in the services of the RAF for another seven years. He returned to Plzen in 1994, five years after the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. His funeral will be held in St Bartholomew Cathedral in Plzen on February 26.
An inspection into institutions for patients suffering from dementia has revealed serious lapses, according to the Ombudsman’s Office. An inspection into 14 such facilities revealed serious problems in more than half of them, newly-elected Ombudsman Anna Šabatová told journalists on Thursday. There is a lack of qualified personnel and a marked lack of respect for the dignity of these patients, Mrs. Šabatová noted, adding that there was a tendency to overuse tranquilizers and not enough attention was being paid to proper food intake, with many patients being undernourished. The Ombudsman’s Office has called for the matter to be addressed without delay.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who was in Brussels on a working visit has met with EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Mr. Sobotka declared the Czech government’s intention to bring the country back to the European mainstream and take a more constructive stand to European integration. He said the Czech Republic would join the fiscal pact and would no longer insist on an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights which was the former president Vaclav Klaus’ condition for signing the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The talks also focussed on the situation in Ukraine with the Czech prime minister stressing the need for a united EU stand, possibly the introduction of sanctions if the violence does not cease.
The Czech men's hockey team was soundly defeated on Wednesday by a US squad that has continued to shine at the Winter Olympics. A day after the Czechs knocked Slovakia from the tournament, they appeared lackluster and were out-skated and outplayed by their American opponents. Goalie Ondřej Pavelec was chased from the net in the second period when the US scored their fourth goal to make it 4-1. The Czech starting goalie was replaced by Salak. The game finished 5-2. The US team faces Canada in the semi-final.
Centre-right opposition party TOP 09 has announced Luděk Niedermayer will head its candidates’ list in elections to the European Parliament scheduled for May. The former vice governor of the country’s central bank (ČNB), the party is hoping, will boost its chances at the polls. TOP 09, led by former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, is aiming for a strong result and to try and recover voters lost in the domestic election last year. On Wednesday, Mr Schwarzenberg had only praise for Mr Niedermayer, suggesting his talent as an economist bested those of many in Czech politics. Mr Niedermayer was vice governor of the Czech National Bank from 2000 to 2008.
Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec said that civil war had started in
Ukraine with the government likely to use the army to win back control of
the country. Chovanec said before the regular weekly Cabinet meeting that
the Czech Republic intends for now to maintain the visa obligation for
Ukrainians visiting the country. If the situation in Ukraine worsened, the
need for visas would be examined again on humanitarian grounds so that
refugees could be taken in, the minister said.
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said that those responsible for the violence in Ukraine should not be allowed entry into the European Union. A list of barred individuals should be drawn up in Brussels with their accounts frozen in European banks as well, he said. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the sanctions could hit the Ukrainian president.
Speed skater Martina Sáblíková won a gold medal in her favourite 5000 meters on Wednesday to repeat her victory in the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Sáblíková beat Dutch woman Ireen Wüst with a time of 6 minutes 51, almost three seconds faster than her main rival. The 26 year old Czech had already won a silver medal in the 3000 meters events at Sochi. The latest medal brings her all time Olympics gold tally to three, with one silver and one bronze.
The Czech Republic will no longer seek to use the opt out from EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights that was won by former president Václav Klaus in 2009, the government decided on Wednesday. The opt out was no longer relevant and its withdrawal would help improve Prague’s position with regard to other EU international agreements, prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said. Klaus won the exemption as a condition for his signing the EU reforming Lisbon Treaty.
The first Bitcoin ATM in the Czech Republic has been launched in Prague’s Holešovice district, allowing users with accounts access to the virtual currency, financial website iHned reports. Other Bitcoin ATMs already exist, for example, in the Slovak capital Bratislava, and in Vancouver, Canada. In the Czech Republic the virtual currency is accepted by around 40 companies. While it is possible to conduct transactions at the Prague facility, there is no option, for example, to withdraw a Bitcoin equivalent in hard currency ie. Czech crowns, nor is such a possibility in the works, iHned writes.
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