Prague’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display is to take place at 6pm on January 1st. It should last for ten minutes and will be divided into five thematic parts, one of them symbolizing the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism twenty-five years ago. Thousands of people are expected to turn up for the display, congregating on Prague’s bridges and the banks of the Vltava River. The fireworks display was rescheduled from midnight to 6pm so that it could be enjoyed by children.
Shops around the country will close early on the last day of December. Smaller shops are due to close at around two pm while the big supermarket chains should remain open until 5pm. Globus, Kaufland and Tesco alone will remain open until 6pm. Although the Czech Republic has one of the most liberal policies are regards opening hours practically all the shops will be closed on January 1st.
The lower house of Parliament will meet more frequently for shorter periods in the coming year, according to a procedural amendment which is expected to facilitate the process of debating and approving new legislation, the ctk news agency reports. At present regular sessions take place once in six weeks, as of next year they will be held once in every three to four weeks. The first session of the lower house in 2015 has been scheduled for January 20th.
President Miloš Zeman and the First Lady will meet with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and his wife Olga for a traditional New Years’ lunch at Lány Chateau on January 1st, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told the ctk news agency. The head of state has invited the Speaker of the Lower House Jan Hamáček and the Speaker of the Senate Milan Štěch to attend a New Years’ lunch in a weeks’ time.
Work on clearing the Vrbětice munitions depot continues unabated through the New Year holidays in view of preparing the ground for the transport of undamaged munitions to a new site in mid-January. Some 150 soldiers are guarding the area and experts have asked locals in the vicinity to refrain from using fireworks on New Years’ Eve. No uncontrolled explosions have taken place at the site for several days now.
Heavy snow and ice continues to complicate traffic around the country. Meteorologists have issued an ice warning for the afternoon and night hours with low visibility in places. Although maintenance crews have been working around the clock there may be snow drifts and ice on less frequented roads. Police have warned drivers heading for the mountain regions to exercise extreme caution and not to head out without winter tires and chains. Thousands of people have been heading for the country’s ski resorts for the winter holidays.
Air pollution in the Moravia-Silesia region has worsened, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute reported. The amount of dust particles in the air now twice exceeds permitted levels at all monitoring stations in the region. Moravia and Silesia are one of Europe’s most polluted regions due to heavy industry located on both sides of the Czech-Polish border. Air pollution is a problem especially in the winter months, when the situation is aggravated by coal heating.
Car accidents in the Czech Republic claimed 629 lives in the course of last year, according to police statistics released on Tuesday. The number of victims of car accidents went up by 45 compared to the previous year, but it is still the second lowest annual death toll on Czech roads since police began keeping record in 1961. The number had been steadily decreasing since 2007, when there were 1,123 victims.
President Zeman has responded to a critical letter written by a group of 17 senators for the Christian Democratic and Stan parties earlier this month, in which they criticized his views on Russia and China, and said he jeopardized the Czech Republic’s ties to the EU and the US. In his answer published on his Facebook profile on Tuesday, Mr Zeman defends his stand towards China and the Ukrainian crisis. He says it is necessary to look for a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian problem and to avoid armed conflict. He also says that all his domestic and foreign negotiations are aimed at creating new job opportunities for Czechs.
Greek football club Olympiakos is interested in Czech striker Petr Jiráček, who is currently playing for Hamburg, according to the website gazzetta.gr. The 28-year old midfielder has been playing for the German club since 2011. The Greek club is also interested in Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický and according to The Sun newspaper is ready to pay three million euros for the Arsenal player.
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