The Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, General Petr Pavel, visited Czech soldiers at the Bagram military base in eastern Afghanistan at the weekend. General Pavel commemorated four Czech soldiers who died in July in a suicide bombing near the base. The Chief of the General Staff traditionally pays a morale boosting visit to Czech soldiers serving abroad ahead of the Christmas holidays handing out Christmas goodies and bringing the soldiers presents from their families. There are currently around 300 Czech soldiers serving in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s ISAF mission.
The Czech ski jumper Roman Koudelka has claimed his second World Cup victory at an event in Norway's Lillehammer. Koudelka won in the first round with a jump of 140 metres for 153.9 points metres, ahead of Slovenia's Peter Prevc. The second leg had to be cancelled due to bad weather conditions. The Czech ski jumper is currently leading the overall World Cup standings.
This November was the warmest in the past 50 years, according to the website meteo.cz. The average temperature exceeded 6 degrees Celsius, which is nearly 4 degrees higher than the mean for the period 1963 to 2014. Temperature records were repeatedly broken around the Czech Republic last month, with over 18 degrees Celsius recorded at some weather stations. According to meteorologists, the whole autumn was unusually warm.
A drowned man was found in the river Vltava in Prague's district of Smíchov on Sunday afternoon. Police say the body could have been in the water for three to five weeks. Investigation of the man's identity and the cause of his death is now underway. Police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulová did not rule out the possibility that it could be the British citizen Karl Leonard Law, who went missing in Prague last month.
Air-pollution in some parts of Moravia, particularly the Moravia-Silesia region, has worsened, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute said. A smog alert remains in effect for most of the region over dust emission values that in some places three times exceed the permitted norms and the authorities on Saturday asked local companies to scale down production. Children and elderly people as well as chronically ill patients have been advised to stay indoors. The Moravia-Silesia region is one of the most polluted in the country, with heavy industry, traffic and coal heating among the major factors.
Public trust in the centre-left government led by Bohuslav Sobotka has fallen considerably, according to a poll conducted by the TNS Aisa agency for the Czech Television. Some 36 percent of people who took part in the survey said they didn't trust the government, a drop by ten percent compared to the previous month. The authors of the survey attribute the fall in trust to a series of controverial moves by president Zeman, such as his use of vulgar language in a radio interview or his comments on the crisis in Ukraine. The poll also suggests that 76 percent of Czechs are dissatified with teh current political situation in the country.
People evacuated from the villages in close vicinity of the munitions storage site in eastern Moravia have been allowed to return home. Around 2000 inhabitants had to leave their homes after pyrotechnics experts found an unexploded artillery grenade on the roof of a damaged building situated at the compound, with munition inside. After searching teh site on Sunday, pyrotechnics said there was no further threat to the surrounding communities. The former military storage facility, run by a private firm, first exploded in October, killing two employees.
Art objects from the communist-era Hotel Praha, which was demolished last year, are set to go under the hammer in the Nová Síň Gallery in Prague on Sunday. The gallery is selling off more than 90 objects, mostly graphic art, which were part of the hotel's interior. Hotel Praha was built at the end of the 1970s and was used by members of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party and the government. Although considered a landmark by some preservationists, it was knocked down by its owner, the PPF group, to make way for a private park for its elite Open Gate school.
Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka of the Christian Democrats is criticising large supermarket chains for unethical practices and exaggerated food prices. The minister has sent out a letter to the supermarket representatives, listing the reservations of farmers and food producers. The Ministry of Agriculture has also pledged to provide small farmers with legal assistance in case they enter a legal dispute with a supermarket chain.
Pope Francis on Sunday approved the process of beatifying the Czech nun Vojtěcha Hasmandová, by recognising the decree of her heroic virtues, which is the first step in a long path to sainthood. Hasmandová, who was born in 1914 and died in 1988, was imprisoned by the Communist regime in the 1950s. In 1970, she was appointed Mother Superior of the Borromean Sisters order. Her beatification can only be completed if her miracles are approved.
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