The Czech police have completed testing of new uniforms and other equipment, the spokeswoman for the Police Presidium, Ivana Nguyenová, told the Czech News Agency on Saturday. The replacement of the equipment,including for instance new summer and winter jackets or sun-glasses, will start next year year and should be completed by the end of 2019. Czech police officers will also get a new insignia; the higher-ranked officers' silver eight-pointed stars will be replaced with five-pointed gold stars, while the lower ranked officers will have three-pointed silver stars. There are about 40,000 policemen serving in the Czech Republic and the whole project is expected to cost some 130 million crowns.
The leading Czech women’s competitor in the biathlon, Gabriela Soukalová, came fifth in the women's 7.5 kilometre sprint in Pokljuka, Slovenia, on Friday, and keeps the overall lead in the World Cup. Her compatriot, Veronika Vítková, has narrowly missed out on bronze, with no missings in the shooting range. Another Czech, Veronika Puskarčíková, finished twelfth, reaching the best result of her carreer.
Ĺess than a week before Christmas Eve, Czech girl and boy scouts on Saturday began distributing the Light of Bethlehem around the country. The symbolic Light of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, arrived in the Czech Republic from Vienna last Saturday. On Friday, it was taken to St Vitus Cathedral in Prague where it was blessed by Archbishop Dominik Duka. Scouts are now distributing it by train to all corners of the Czech Republic for people to light their own candles. The tradition of the Light of Bethlehem first appeared in the Czech Republic after the fall of communist regime in 1989.
The State Nuclear Safety Authority has extended the operating license for the first reactor of the Dukovany nuclear power plant until the end of March. The present license expires at the end of this year and the power utility CEZ, which operates the plant, asked the State Nuclear Safety Authority to suspend the administrative proceedings concerning a new license until February 28 because it needs more time to carry out extended checks at the unit. According to the State Nuclear Safety Authority’s head Dana Drábová, the postponement will have no impact on the power plant's operation.
The Social Democratic Party has forged ahead in popularity ratings, gaining an edge over its coalition partner, the ANO Party, for the first time since February 2014. According to a December poll conducted by CVVM, the Social Democrats would now win general elections with 26.5 percent of the vote. ANO is close behind with 26 percent. The Communist Party would place third with 11 percent followed by the Civic Democrats with 8.5 percent and TOP 09 with 8 percent. The only other party to cross the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house are the Christian Democrats who would get 7 percent.
Petr Dohnal has been re-instated head of the Prison Service. Justice Minister Robert Pelikan made the announcement shortly after the Prague Municipal Court ruled invalid Dohnal’s dismissal from office by his then-superior, former justice minister, Helena Válková. Dohnal who was dismissed on the grounds of incompetence, filed a complaint against Válková’s decision saying she had blamed him for mistakes made by the previous management and arguing that his dismissal was unsubstantiated and illegal. His complaint was upheld by the present justice minister, Robert Pelikán.
The lower house of Parliament has approved a government proposal which will enable the Czech Republic to contribute over 800 soldiers to the NATO rapid response forces next year, instead of the previously approved 452. Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky requested the amendment due to a general revision of the concept of NATO’s rapid reaction forces which involves bigger contributions by individual membership countries. The Senate has already consented to the change.
Czechs are marking the fourth anniversary of the death of Václav Havel, the country’s first post-communist president, with commemorative events taking place around the country. Throughout the day people have been lighing candles and laying flowers at spots associated with the late president.Cardinal Dominik Duka will celebrate a mass in Václav Havel's memory at the Prague Crossroads Culural Centre and the Václav Havel Library will host a staging of his play Audience. Fans of the ex-president will join a march from Wenceslas Square to the Prague Castle, carrying hand-made hearts created in memory of the late president.
The Czech state budget deficit will not exceed 70 billion crowns this year, i.e. 30 billion crowns less than projected, the Finance Ministry said in a state debt financing and management strategy for 2016 released on Friday. The government is committed to gradually reducing the gap in public spending, with the 2015 deficit having been projected at 100 billion crowns, and next year’s at 70 billion crowns. The long-term plan is for the deficit to reach 60 billion crowns in 2017 and 50 billion in 2018.
The ANO party of the governing coalition is proposing a procedural amendment which would restrict the amount of time for debate individual lawmakers and parties have in the lower house. According to party deputy chair Jaroslava Jermanová debating time should not only be restricted but divided fairly among the parties represented in Parliament. The move comes after several weeks of filibustering from opposition deputies who have thus successfully blocked the passage of a bill on electronic registers.
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