The final settlement between church and state over the return of confiscated property at Prague Castle, which was officially to be signed by the end of January, should be sealed by February 26th, President Miloš Zeman and Archbishop Dominik Duka agreed on Thursday. According to the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, the two parties needed more time to settle the requirements of the church regarding the buildings at the castle. According to a memorandum signed in the summer of last year, the Church was to receive the Saint George’s Convent and the Mocker Houses on condition that it will renovate them within five years and drop its claims to other buildings at Prague Castle.
The Czech film Furiant or Peacock took a Short Film Special Jury Award for Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. The film, directed by Ondřej Hudeček, describes the early days of the legend of the 19th century Czech theatre, Ladislav Stroupežnický. The festival screened 72 shorts that were selected from over 8,700 entries. The film Furiant was made in 2015 and has already been screened at the festivals Karlovy Vary and Toronto.
Czech president Miloš Zeman plans to visit Russia this or next year, he announced at a meeting of Czech export leaders in Prague on Thursday. He also said he expected Czech businessmen to have a good position in Russia once the economic sanctions against the country are lifted. The Czech president’s last visit to Russia in May 2015 sparked a great deal of controversy, since most EU heads of state had declined the invitation over Russia’s policy in Ukraine. The Czech head of state also plans to visit Vietnam and India next year. He said he considered both countries as potential markets for Czech goods.
The Czech Republic has been voted the best camping destination of 2016 by the Dutch holiday site zoover.nl, finishing ahead of Portugal and Luxembourg, the Czech Tourism Agency reported on Thursday. Dutch tourists rank among the most frequent visitors to the Czech Republic. According to the data of the Czech Statistical Office, more than 200,000 visitors from the Netherlands visited the Czech Republic last year.
Iranian businessman with Czech citizenship Shahram Abdullah Zadeh, who is in custody on suspicion of massive tax fraud, has paid a 150 million crown bail to the Regional Court in Brno, one of his defence lawyers told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. It is the largest bail ever paid in the Czech Republic. Mr Zadeh is suspected of being the chief organizer of a 2.5 billion crown scam linked to the import of fuels. It is not yet clear when he will be released from custody, where he spent the last 22 months.
Police are looking into the death of the Communist MEP Miloslav Ransdorf, Prague police spokesperson Tomáš Hulan said on Thursday. The investigation was sought by Mr Ransdorf’s family, who claims it might be connected with his alleged involvement in financial fraud. In December, Mr Ransdorf and several associates were arrested by the Swiss authorities after producing allegedly false documents in a Swiss bank. Mr Ransdorf died unexpectedly last week, at the age of 62 last, after reportedly suffering a stroke. A forensic autopsy will take place on Friday, the late MEP’s assistant Helena Suchá confirmed.
Prague police last year investigated a little over 64,000 crimes, the lowest figures since 1991, the deputy head of Prague police, Ivan Smékal, announced on Thursday. Last year, the police succeeded in solving around a quarter of the crimes that took place in the capital. Pickpocketing and car theft were the most common among them. Police investigated 24 murders, four less than in 2014. Two of them remain unsolved to date.
The Czech Republic’s dependence on exports to EU member countries increased last year, despite the government’s efforts to diversify, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Jan Mládek, said on Thursday at a meeting of Czech export leaders. Currently, some 84.4 percent of Czech exports go to other EU countries, compared to 82 percent in 2014. According to Mr Mládek, the Czech Republic has lost some traditional export destinations such as Syria, Iraq and Libya and has not succeeded so far in replacing them with new Arabic markets. Another problem he mentioned was the diminishing export to Russia.
In tennis, Czech Radek Štěpanek is through to the final of the Men’s Doubles at the Australian Open together with Canadian partner Daniel Nestor. They beat the Uruguayan-Spanish pairing of Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers in the semi-final 7:6, 6:4. They will face Brit Jamie Murray and Brazilian Bruno Soares in the final.
In football, leading top league Czech football club Viktoria Plzeň has prolonged the contract of current manager Karel Krejčí until the end of June 2018. The current deal was due to expire at the end of this season. Krejčí took over in August last year when the West Bohemian club exited the qualifying round for the Champions League. At the mid-point in the season, Viktoria are currently top of the local league with a three point lead over nearest rivals, Sparta Prague.