Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has defended the president’s decision to travel to Moscow on May 9 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WW II and to honour those who died fighting against the Nazi threat. On Tuesday, Mr Sobotka said he would not try and intervene – reacting to an appeal by the former speaker of the lower house, opposition MP Miroslava Němcová of the Civic Democrats, who has criticized the visit and the president as the only EU head-of-state so far due to attend on the anniversary in Moscow, given Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. The Czech prime minister indicated that the visit by Mr Zeman would not change the Czech Republic’s stance on Ukraine and sanctions against Russia and Vladimir Putin’s regime. In the past, the Washington Post slammed the Czech president’s approach to Russia, calling him a “virtual mouthpiece” for Mr Putin.
The project Plzeň – European Capital of Culture has been awarded the Czech Tourism Award in the category of the Best Project at the ITB Berlin tourism trade fair, Radovan Auer, marketing and communication director of Plzeň 2015 told the Czech News Agency. He said it was the best project for 2014 promoting the Czech Republic abroad. According to the latest figures, the number of overnight stays in Plzeň rose by 20 percent last year and it is slightly higher in the first months of this year.
The Czech subsidiary of the Swedish construction and development firm Skanska is suspected of being involved in a corruption scandal, Czech Radio reported on Tuesday. The radio quoted two high-ranking Skanska officials, who said that Skanska sent 100 million crowns to a company that was involved in completing the R7 motorway, adding that the money was subsequently used for bribing. The head of the Czech Skanska at the time was the current transport minister Dan Ťok, nominated by the ANO party.
The case of an attack on the popular rock musician Michal Hrůza started in an Ostrava court on Tuesday. The singer-songwriter was hospitalised with a brain haemorrhage and concussion after attempting to stop a fight between two young men during the Colours of Ostrava music festival last year. According to the prosecutor, the men threatened to beat up the singer if he called the police. The students, aged 18 and 19, are charged with blackmail and disorderly conduct. If found guilty, they could face between five and 12 years behind bars. The popular musician recently announced his first concert plans following the injury, with a tour getting underway in Prague on Thursday before moving on to seven other Czech cities.
American actress of Czech descent, Kim Novak, known for starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Vertigo and many other films, arrived in Prague on Monday. The 81-year-old actress will attend the Febiofest international film festival which gets underway on Thursday. She will be handed the Kristian award for her lifelong contribution to world cinematography at the festival’s opening. The actress will also have an exhibition of her paintings on display at the Strahov Monastery in Prague.
Construction firm Metrostav has offered Prague City Hall it will take full responsibility for completing work on the controversial Blanka tunnel complex. The opening of the tunnel was recently postponed indefinitely by Prague authorities after it emerged that hundreds of kilometres of electric cables had been damaged by water and needed replacing. In a letter addressed to Prague mayor Adriana Krnáčová, the head of Metrostav, Jiří Bělohlav, said the firm was ready to take over the technological part of the construction from ČKD Praha DIZ, a firm that supplied the damaged cables. Originally meant to open in 2011, the 37-billion crown project was most recently scheduled to open in April.
In four matches in the NHL on Monday only a single Czech player got points: Tomáš Plekanec with a goal and an assist for the Montreal Canadiens against close rivals in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Habs have played well this season and are on track to clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs but have had a miserable March so far – winning only two of their last eight games. On Monday, Tampa won by a score of 4:2.
The former speaker of the lower house and prominent Civic Democrat MP Miroslava Němcová called on Bohuslav Sobotka’s centre-left government on Monday not to foot the bill for President Miloš Zeman’s trip to Moscow on May 9th. Mr Zeman is reportedly the only EU head-of-state so far who has accepted an invitation by the Kremlin to attend celebrations in Russia marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WW II. Other heads-of-state will stay away in response to Russian intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. On Monday, Ms Němcová drew fire from the president’s spokesman, who suggested her approach to ceremonies marking the defeat of Nazism “spoke for itself”. Defenders of the president say he is going to Moscow to honour those who died fighting to defeat the Third Reich.
Claims by the Czech Republic against the German firm Viktoriagruppe storing Czech strategic diesel oil reserves amount to 1.8 billion crowns, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday, the final day creditors can file claims against the company in insolvency. The Czech Republic's State Material Reserves Administration confirmed it has lodged claims worth 1.5 billion but a ČTK source said an additional 300 million could be filed by Czech customs and tax authorities. Neither body confirmed as much. The amount of Czech diesel oil stored in Germany would cover two days’ consumption across the country. The Czech Republic's total diesel oil reserves would suffice to cover consumption for 95 days, the news agency said.
The regional court in Ostrava will hear opening statements on Tuesday in the trial of two youths who put singer Michal Hrůza in hospital last year. The singer, allegedly slapped and punched after trying to break up a fracas between the two suspects, reportedly fell backwards, suffering serious injury. He underwent emergency brain surgery and was left in an induced coma before being slowly awakened and beginning recovery. The duo is charged with rowdy or disorderly conduct and with having threatened the victim. Both of the charged have expressed regret over the incident but said they remember nothing. The singer returns to the stage this week, beginning with a concert in the Czech capital on Thursday.
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