In his Christmas message to the nation President Miloš Zeman thanked
Czechs for their trust in electing him to a second term in office and
promised to continue working for the country’s national interests, both
through intensive economic diplomacy and a staunch anti-migrant stance.
He expressed support for the country’s participation in foreign missions and praised the government for defending Czech interests through cooperation within the Visegrad group.
Mr. Zeman praised the leaders of the ANO party, the Social Democrats and the Communists for having had the political courage to form a viable government and slammed protesters who recently demonstrated against it in the big cities, saying they had no reason to protest against a democratically elected leadership.
The head of state also reiterated his criticism of the country’s intelligence service, BIS, for its warning regarding heightened activities of Russian and Chinese agents on Czech territory, describing it as unjustified "spy mania“.
Hundreds of people took part in a performance of Jakub Jan Ryba’s Czech
Christmas Mass at Prague’s Main Train Station on Sunday afternoon. It was
the eighth time the event, in which professional musicians and singers are
joined by amateur enthusiasts, took place inside the country’s busiest
A similar public rendition of the well-known music, which is popularly known as “Rybovka”, was planned for the capital’s Kampa district later in the afternoon.
Poland has been holding a national day of mourning for the 12 Polish miners
who died in a methane explosion at a mine in the Czech town of Karviná in
the Moravian Silesian Region on Thursday. One other person, a Czech, died
in the blast and subsequent fire.
The operators say that values recorded on Sunday suggested that the fire in the ČSM mine had burned itself out.
Four of the bodies of the 13 victims have been recovered so far. The location of another one is known but the other eight have yet to be located.
Ninety percent of Czechs regard the Christmas tree as the most important
symbol of the festive season, suggests a survey conducted for Czech Radio
by the Median agency. Other symbols of Christmas for Czechs – named by 70
percent or more of respondents – are Ježíšek (Baby Jesus, the
traditional bearer of gifts), carols, gifts and fried carp (the main
element is the traditional Christmas dinner), the poll indicates.
Some 60 percent of Czechs perceive a link between Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ, the survey suggests, while 40 percent connect it with church services.
Analyst Martin Kratochvíl said male respondents were more likely to refer to negative aspects of Christmas, such as stress and overcrowded shops.
Public transport in the Czech Republic will be greatly reduced during the
Christmas holiday. The vast majority of trains will not be running on
Monday’s Christmas Eve, when Czechs celebrate Christmas, or on Tuesday
Urban transport services will for the most part follow limited “night” schedules from Monday afternoon until Tuesday late morning.
A similar regime will be in place on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. However, regular services will be in place on the working days between the two holidays.
A reenactment of the return of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk from exile to
Prague in 1918 culminated with the arrival of a historical train at the
city’s Main Train Station. The train set off from Horní Dvořiště near
the German border in South Bohemia and arrived in the capital on Saturday.
Participants dressed in period legionnaires uniforms welcomed the actor, Otakar Brousek, playing the founder and first president of Czechoslovakia at the event, which was attended by hundreds of people.
It was followed by a reenactment in front of the station of the speech Masaryk delivered on his arrival a century earlier and a theatre performance by the statue of St. Wenceslas on Wenceslas Square.
The Czech Republic may follow Austria’s lead in pushing for an end to
daylight saving time in Europe being delayed until April 2021. Czech
senators have been discussing a European Union directive under which the
change would come in at the start of April next year.
Jan Kněžínek, a member of the ANO senators group, told the Czech News Agency that the Czech Republic was likely to follow the lead of Austria, which currently holds the presidency of the EU.
Czech senators say ending daylight saving time in 2019 is unrealistic in view of the impact it will have on national regulations and argue for coordinating Prague’s approach with those of neighbouring states.
However, the Czech government has said it wants to maintain winter time all year round but Germany is in favour of summer time.
Biathlon star Gabriela Koukalová has returned to training after an
extended period on the sidelines. The 2017 biathlon sprint world champion
missed the Winter Olympics in February due to problems with her calves and
said at the time she could not imagine returning to competition.
However, Koukalová told reporters at the Sportsperson of the Year awards on Friday that she had begun intensive training and would see in a few months what shape she was in. She said coming back was so difficult that she had fainted while training.
A Czech woman detained in Pakistan last January after being caught with
nine kilogrammes of heroin has testified that she visited the country to
study Islam, the Pakistani news site Mera Mirpur reported. The trial of
Tereza H., who is 21, began in March and is expected to conclude soon.
The woman is accused of trying to smuggle the drug to the United Arab Emirates. Mera Mirpur said she had originally confessed but has since amended her testimony.
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