Russia was behind a false report of a rape by German soldiers in Lithuania that was intended to undermine support for NATO's new eastern force, the head of NATO’s military committee, Czech General Petr Pavel told the Reuters news agency. General Pavel warned Europe to expect more such "fake news”. He said he also hoped to hold the first telephone call in more than two years with Russia's military chiefs in coming weeks. There he will outline why NATO believes its biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War is not a threat to the Kremlin.
The renowned Czech-born US film director Milos Forman turns 85 on Saturday. Although he will not be visiting his homeland for health reasons, his 85th birthday is being marked around the country by a series of cultural events. Czech public Czech Television and cinemas are featuring his films as well as documentaries on his life and career. The Film Archive's Ponrepo cinemas in Prague have been running a month-long retrospective of his films that culminates this weekend. Czech centres abroad are also holding screenings, lectures and debates to mark the occasion. Forman was a leading personality of the Czech New Film Wave of the 1960s. Among his best known US films are One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair and Valmont. He has won two Oscars and three Golden Globe awards.
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, 84, has been hospitalized after his health condition deteriorated sharply, the news site novinky.cz reported citing a Karlin priest in whose parish the cardinal was getting home care. The cardinal was diagnosed with lung cancer late last year and had been undergoing chemotherapy. His condition was diagnosed as very serious since the cancer had metastasized to his bones. Cardinal Vlk recently thanked the public for the messages of support they were sending him and said he was at peace with his conscience and prepared for the end.
The legendary Czech traveler, author and filmmaker Miroslav Zikmund turned 98 this week, the news site novinky.cz reported. Zikmund formed a legendary duo with the late Jiří Hanzelka who died in 2003. They visited 83 countries with their famous Tatra 87, made over 150 documentary films and wrote over 20 books about their adventures. The famous duo were ambassadors not only for Czechoslovakia but for its Tatra cars. While last year Zikmund celebrated his birthday in Rio de Janeiro in grand style, this year he opted for a modest family party in his home town Zlin.
At the request of Czech Radio under the Freedom of Information Act, the country’s Foreign Ministry has released bonus figures received by employees at the ministry last year. According to the public broadcaster, the ministry released the information anonymously, declining to reveal concrete names. The ministry cited privacy legislation as the reason for the modification. The highest bonus paid out to a ministry last year, according to the broadcaster, was 440,000 crowns, the equivalent of around 16 thousand euros. That went to an employee designated simply as Náměstek 12 (Deputy 12).
The Association of Regions in the Czech Republic wants the Czech state to guarantee the legitimacy of addenda signed between bus drivers and transport companies. The addenda, approved by the government last year, was to see minimal bus drivers’ wages raised by around one-third, to 98.10 crowns per hour (the equivalent of around 3.6 euros). Call for a state guarantee on Friday was led by the chairwoman of the association, governor of the region of Karlovy Vary, Jana Vildumetzová.
The leader of the Christian Democrats, Pavel Bělobradek, has said that the emerging coalition with the STAN party of mayors and independents could present a viable alternative in this year’s parliamentary elections to parties on the political right and left as well as the ANO movement. He added that the two parties would also work well in the Senate and on the European level but also stressed that the agreement had not been finalized and that details remained to be worked out. The Christian Democrats are the junior coalition government party, winning 14 seats in the last election, a comeback after being eliminated in the 2010 elections. STAN previously paired with right-wing party TOP 09. Polls routinely put ANO, led by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, as the favourite to win later this year.
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