An air pollution alert has been declared in parts of the Moravia-Silesia region in the northeast of the Czech Republic. Pollution exceeded permitted levels in the Ostrava, Karviná and Frýdek-Místek districts. People with chronic breathing disorders, elderly people and small children are recommended to refrain from outdoor physical exertion, while drivers have been asked to leave their cars at home if possible. The Ostrava region, with heavy industry and intense traffic, is one of the most polluted areas in central Europe.
Service on a section of the A line of Prague metro is suspended at the weekend and on Monday due to maintenance and repair work, the city’s public transport company said. People travelling between the Náměstí Míru and Depo Hostivař will have to use tram to reach their destination. This is the fourth weekend in a row when sections of the Prague metro are closed for repairs.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, will meet U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during a four-day visit to the United States, the Czech Office of the Government confirmed on Friday. The meeting is set to take place at the White House on November 18, the day before the Czech government leader attends the unveiling of a bust of Václav Havel at the House of Representatives in Washington. Czech diplomats had been seeking to organize a meeting with Mr. Biden for some months.
The Communist Party says that the Velvet Revolution was a “wasted opportunity”. In a statement released on Friday the Communists said it was not possible to regard the changes after 1989 as a success, adding that today the Czech Republic is run by a propertied oligarchy that pays no heed to the interests of citizens. The party said Czechs had greater social certainty under the previous system. It criticized the division of Czechoslovakia without a referendum and the fact the Czech Republic had joined NATO, which it described as aggressive. The Communist Party of Bohemian and Moravia is one of the few parliamentary parties in the region to retain the word communist in its title.
Influential businessman Roman Janoušek, who is due to serve four and a half years in jail over a hit and run incident, has filed a request with Prague Municipal Court to postpone his sentence on health grounds. His lawyer had previously stated that Mr. Janoušek had health problems following a brain operation and would need further surgery. One newspaper reported that he had been ordered to begin serving his sentence on November 18. The businessman’s hit and run incident came in 2012, days after a newspaper published wiretaps indicating that he had held considerable influence over politicians and officials in Prague, including former mayor Pavel Bém.
The Olympic women’s javelin champion Barbora Špotáková has split from trainer Jan Železný, who during his own career was the most successful male athlete ever to compete in the discipline. The two said they had reached agreement to dissolve their four-year association due to differing views about training, with Špotáková reportedly insisting she needed to tailor her schedule to take in caring for her first child. The 33-year-old, who this season became European champion for the first time, does not plan to engage a new coach.
A relay reading of Michael Žantovksý’s new biography of Václav Havel gets underway on Friday afternoon at the Lucerna Passage in central Prague. The reading from Havel is part of a Festival of Freedom, which has been put together to mark the 25th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution. Most of those taking part are friends of the late Mr. Havel, who spearheaded the political changes at the end of 1989 and was president for 13 years. Mr. Žantovksý, who is now Czech ambassador to the UK, was his spokesman and advisor.
The Russian band Pussy Riot have responded to Czech President Miloš Zeman’s criticism of them in a recent radio interview. Speaking in the UK-based newspaper The Guardian the group’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said Mr. Zeman had behaved “like a usual patriarchal stupid guy” and would be better off not discussing Pussy Riot when he doesn’t know who they are. Mr. Zeman used a particularly strong Czech curse word to translate their name in a Czech Radio interview that was widely condemned for his use of bad language. The Czech president said he had been quoting other people’s swearing and refused to apologise.
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