Finance minister and leader of the ANO party, Andrej Babiš, demands an apology for libel from the US magazine Foreign Policy. Mr Babiš, who is currently on a visit to the United States, told the daily Hospodářské noviny that he is ready to sue the magazine in case it doesn’t apologize. In its article ‘Now the Czechs Have an Oligarch Problem, Too’, Foreign Policy calls Babiš one of the politically most powerful billionaires in the world and says his ambitions are “far grander” than finance minister. It also says his rise “threatens to undermine democratic institutions in the Czech Republic”. Andrej Babiš claims the article was commissioned from the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic and Egypt will support each other’s candidature for international institutions within the United Nations. The countries’ foreign ministers, Lubomír Zaorálek and Sami Shukri, made the announcement after meeting in Prague on Friday. The Czechs are ready to support Cairo’s effort to become an elected UN Security Council member for the years 2016-17, while Egypt will vote in favour of Prague in applying for the UN’s human, economic and social councils. Minister Zaorálek also praised the countries’ good mutual relations and expressed his support for the current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The minister for human rights and minorities, Jiří Dienstbier, has dismissed the head of the government agency for social inclusion Martin Šimáček, without specifying details. In an interview for the news site Aktualne.cz Mr Šimáček said he found the reasons for his dismissal unsubstantiated and said the move was risky at a time when the agency was launching several new projects.
The government agency for social inclusion was established in 2008 to assist local authorities to resolve housing problems and creating a liaison between people living in social exclusion and labour offices, schools and the police and currently works in 36 localities. Mr Šimáček was appointed to the post of the agency’s head in February 2009 by the then-minister for human rights and minorities, Michael Kocáb.
Friday is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of a railway marshalling yard in Plzeň by British aircraft. Some 624 people were killed in the attack on 17 April 1945, though some estimates suggest that the real figure was 850. Alongside the rail yard, factories and around 120 houses were hit in the bombing raid. It was the heaviest and most deadly attack on the West Bohemian city in the course of WWII.
Czech Roma Petr Torák, who serves as officer for the British Police in Cambridgeshire, will receive the Order of the British Empire in May. Queen Elizabeth II has decided to award the officer for his service for the Roma community. Petr Torák has lived in Britain since 1999, when he left the Czech Republic following several racist attacks on him and his family members. He is involved in a number of projects supporting the Roma community and is one of the founders of the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association.
The Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek said on Friday that the Czech consulates in Russia have not received any visa applications connected to the planned ride of the pro-Kremlin biker club through the Czech Republic. The Night Wolves want to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory by riding their Harley-Davidsons through Russia, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. Minister Zaorálek said on Thursday that he regarded the ride a provocation. The plan has already triggered protests in neighbouring Poland.
Thousands of cyclists took part in a Big Spring Bike Ride through central Prague on Thursday evening. The estimated 4,500 riders also went through the Blanka tunnel, a huge construction project that has been had its opening date put back repeatedly. Police reported injuries to two cyclists and altercations between participants in the annual event and motorists.
Aneta Langerová was named the best female singer of the year at the Czech music industry's annual Anděl awards ceremony on Thursday night, also winning the award for the best album, best song and best music video. Michal Hrůza took the best male singer of the year title and the band Chinaski was named band of the year. Singer Hana Zagorová, who was popular mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, was inducted into the Czech music hall of fame.
Police have charged three teenage girls with the murder of a pensioner in Prague. The man’s body was discovered on Monday in his flat in the Letňany district. The girls, who have known each other from a youth facility, have killed the 72-year-old man after getting into an argument with him. Afterwards they tried to set the flat on fire to cover their tracks. They are charged with murder and public safety threat.
A newborn boy was placed in a baby box in Opava on Thursday at around 10 PM. According to the founders of the monitoring system, Ludvík Hess, the boy is in a good condition. One hundred and twenty newborns have been given up at babyboxes since the network was established: 71 girls and 49 boys. There are a total of 64 babyboxes in different locations around the Czech Republic.
Czech ice hockey legend Jaroslav Holík, who helped Czechoslovakia win a hockey world title and an Olympic bronze medal, has died at the age of 72. The forward scored 57 goals for Czechoslovakia in his 142 international games. He also led his country's under-20 team to world titles in 2000 and 2001 as a coach. The Czech ice hockey federation made the announcement on Friday, saying that he died after battling an unspecified, long-term illness.
Czech tennis player Lucie Šafářová will be the first from the national women’s squad to take the court at the weekend in the Fed Cup semi-finals against France. The Czech world number thirteen will face Caroline Garcia in their singles match at Ostrava’s ČEZ Arena. The second match of the day will see double Wimbledon champion and world number four Petra Kvitová against Kristina Mladenovic. The Czech women’s tennis team have advanced to the semi-finals of the Fed Cup for the seventh time in a row.
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