Justice Minister Helena Válková has told Czech Radio she decided to step down because she did not feel she had support from within the ANO movement. According to the minister, colleagues did not back her work at the ministry and as minister she felt they would favour someone more forceful or direct. Válková tendered her resignation on Tuesday; President Miloš Zeman made clear later in the week he wasn't ready to accept; he aims to meet with the candidate for the post, Robert Pelikán, as well as ANO leader Andrej Babiš, first.
Czech hockey legend Jaromír Jágr turned 43 on Sunday, joining the ranks of only sixteen other players, according to sources, who still played professionally at the same age. The veteran forward told reporters in a recent interview he had no plans to hang up his skates, saying he loved the NHL and wanted to return next season, even without a contract if need be (for a trial period). Jágr currently plays for the New Jersey Devils but still draws interest from other clubs. Devils boss Lou Lamoriello described Jágr as being in "phenomenal condition". The Czech forward has retired from international play but fans are hoping he may reconsider and play at the World Championships in Prague and Ostrava this year. Jágr has two Stanley Cup rings, an Olympic gold medal and two World Championship gold medals.
Petra Paroubková, the wife of former prime minister and former Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek, was taken to hospital mid-week after feeling unwell, according tn.cz and ČTK. After an examination, doctors learned the 41-year-old had suffered a brain hemorrhage. Her husband revealed to iDnes that she was being treated in intensive care and would, in all likelihood, be released within two to three weeks. No surgery was needed but plenty of rest was required, Mr Paroubek said.
Decorated WWII veteran Vasil Korol, who fought in the battle of Kiev and the Carpatho-Dukla Operation, died on Saturday at the age of 92. His son confirmed that he passed away in hospital in Prague following a brief illness. Major Korol fled to the Soviet Union after the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939 but was imprisoned and sent to Siberia. After his release in 1943, he joined the Czechoslovak Army as an artilleryman. He later received Czech, Ukrainian and Russian military honours - which were stolen from his room in a home for war veterans in 2013. The thieves who took them had posed as repairmen. The war veteran received new medals from the Defence Ministry and the Association of Czechoslovak Legionnaires in the autumn of the same year.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnický has told Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes he will not run for the post of deputy leader in ANO unless he receives the necessary support at an upcoming party congress. The convention takes place at the end of February. So far, the head of ANO's deputies club, Jaroslav Faltýnek, has received the most nominations. for first deputy leader, while the head of ANO, Andrej Babiš, enjoys overwhelming, almost 100 percent support, and is expected to be re-elected chairman without any hurdles. Defence Minister Stropnický said the post of first deputy was a demanding one, which would be impossible to combine with his ministerial portfolio.
Czech men's tennis No. 1 Tomáš Berdych has advanced against
Frenchman Gael Monfils to reach the semifinal in Rotterdam. The Czech held
serve throughout and won by a score of 6:1, 6:4. Berdych won in Rotterdam
In women's tennis, Kateřina Plíšková defeated fellow Czech Lucie Šafařová 7:6, 6:3 in Antwerp to reach the semis; another Czech, Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová, has also reached the semifinal stage.
Police are investigating an act of vandalism targeting an Arab grocery store in Teplice, located near a spa and park frequented by visitors from Persian Gulf countries in the spring and summer months. The storefront was splashed in places with an as yet unknown red liquid, which the owner maintains was blood. He told the website iDnes the police had secured a bucket left at the scene. The police themselves have not revealed additional details but tests of the liquid are pending. Last month, the embattled head of the upstart Dawn party, Tomio Okamura, called on Czechs to provoke local Muslims, agreeing with a colleague's Facebook tract that they should boycott kebab shops and walk pigs and dogs outside Arab establishments and mosques. Mr Okamura saw a backlash in the social media as a result.
Prague's Municipal Court on Friday ordered the company eMoneyServices to continue to provide technical support for the Opencard system, used by more than one million commuters in the Czech capital. City Hall had appealed to the court for a preliminary ruling to extend EMS technical support after the end of January. The City of Prague and the company have been at odds ever since City Hall declined the financial terms for renewing the original agreement. EMS, meanwhile, is asking for a payment of than 170 million crowns it says it is currently owed. City Hall has said it wants to pay off the outstanding debt but it is unclear whether it will accept the figure tabulated by the firm.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has asked German state institutions for help in securing the return of 5.5 million litres of oil from the Czech Republic's strategic reserve stored with Viktoriagruppe. After meeting with the German ambassador to Prague on Friday, the prime minister asked the authorities to honour a joint agreement from 2004 allowing the Czech Republic to withdraw its reserves at any moment. In January, the insolvency administrator for Viktoriagruppe denied that any oil held at their German facility belonged to the Czech Republic. Mr Sobotka called the claim "absurd"; he and the ambassador agreed that formal talks to resolve the matter will be launched.
Prices of most food products in Czech supermarkets and grocery stores are lower than a year ago, with potatoes recording the biggest year-on-year price fall of almost 40 percent, according to data released by the Czech Statistical Office. The average price of apples fell by almost 20 percent lower compared with February 2014 while the average price of a kilo of potatoes dropped from 17.55 crowns in February last year to the current to 10.41 crowns. The spokeswoman for the Czech Chamber of Agriculture, Dana Večeřová, told the Czech News Agency that commodity prices had been heavily affected by imports, themselves influenced by the situation on the European market where strong agricultural producing countries were trying to sell their produce and food products - which they could no longer sell on the Russian market and elsewhere - at any cost. This has resulted into massive imports of Italian apples and imports of cheap but also "poor quality" potatoes from France, Večěrová said. By contrast, tomato prices increased by 10 percent and the prices of white wine have risen by 25 percent.
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