President Miloš Zeman is “trusted” by 59 percent of Czechs, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency published on Tuesday. The head of state enjoyed the exact same level of support in a similar survey carried out in January. The country’s majors are the only politicians to enjoy a higher approval rating than Mr. Zeman, the poll suggests; 64 percent of respondents expressed trust in them.
The deputy prime minister and finance minister, Andrej Babiš of ANO, has raised questions about the future of the government if the other coalition partners vote to rein in powerful businesspeople in cabinet positions. Mr. Babiš, owner of the huge Agrofert group, said a bill on conflict of interest solved nothing. An opposition amendment which would bar firms more than 10-percent owned by ministers from taking part in tenders would directly hit the finance minister’s business. Coalition partners the Christian Democrats say they will back the move in a vote this week, while leaders the Social Democrats are considering it. Mr. Babiš said neither party objected to his activities when they entered government together.
Eighteen Northern bald ibises escaped from Prague Zoo on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the zoo said. The rare birds got out through holes in the net surrounding their aviary, which had come under strain from a large amount of fresh snow. Zookeepers have managed to recapture one ibis and have asked for help from the public in retrieving the others. People have reported seeing them in the Holešovice and Vinohrady districts of the city. Prague Zoo has been breeding Northern bald ibises since the mid-1980s.
A new tariff structure for electricity due to come into effect in 2017 will not now be introduced, the head of the Energy Regulatory Authority, Alena Vitásková, said on Tuesday. Ms. Vitásková said her officials were going to revise the tariff structure, adding that it might be less closely linked to circuit breaker size than previously envisaged. Reacting to the news, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the decision was a reasonable response to justified criticism of the existing plans. They would have led to marked price rises for some electricity consumers.
The rate of employment in the Czech Republic climbed to 71 percent in January this year, according to official data released on Tuesday. That was the highest percentage of the population in employment since 1993. Meanwhile, unemployment remained at 4.6 percent for the third month in a row, according to the Czech Statistics Office; it uses a different method of calculating jobless figures from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Over 200 people committed suicide in the Czech Republic in 2015 by throwing themselves under trains, according to information issued by the Railway Infrastructure Administration on Tuesday. A total of 234 people died on Czech railways last year, which was 44 percent fewer than in 2014. Material damage linked to the railways more than doubled in 2015, largely due to a single crash involving a train and the body of a truck in the Moravian town of Studenká that left three dead.
The film Obecná škola (The Elementary School) is to be screened to Czech communities around the world on March 28 in tribute to the great screenwriter and actor Zdeněk Svěrák, who will be celebrating his 80th birthday on that day. A digitally restored version of the highly popular 1991 movie will be shown in around 30 places on virtually all continents, the director Jan Svěrák – Zdeněk Svěrák’s son – told reporters. The pair enjoyed their greatest success with Kolya, which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1996.
The Prague authorities have begun issuing the new Lítačka electronic card, which can be used as a pass on the city’s public transport system and for other services. The first recipients picked up the cards on Tuesday as part of a pilot project due to run to until June. The Lítačka is set to replace the controversial Opencard introduced in 2006; the system cost far more than originally announced and there have been numerous legal clashes between its operator and Prague City Hall.
March 1st marks the 3rd anniversary of the launch of public broadcaster Czech Radio’s Rádio Junior, aimed at young listeners as well as, for example, elementary schools. Through digital broadcasting the platform is available to listeners across the Czech Republic. Along with programmes for children, Rádio Junior operates a free line where listeners can leave messages or request songs. Schools are also able to contact the station with specific requests.
Heavy snowfall complicated conditions on Czech roads on Monday night, continuing into Tuesday. Downed power lines left thousands of households without electricity; energy giant ČEZ confirmed that power was down in parts of central Bohemia, including Benešov, Příbram and parts of Prague. Earlier, meteorologists said parts of the country could expect up to 20 centimetres of new snow; snowfall is expected to continue in parts of Moravia, where up to 30 centimetres are expected. The heavy and wet snow also led to fallen trees, causing delays on the country’s railway routes.
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