Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek has said that the European Union should prolong current sanctions against Russia in a month’s time. The comments were made in an interview with the Russian internet news server Gazeta.ru. Zaorálek said that there is evidence that Moscow continues to give heavy weapons to the separatists around Donbas and in the rest of Eastern Ukraine. It is also clear that thousands of Russian troops are planted not just on the Russian side of the border but also across it in Ukraine, he added. Russia denies direct involvement in the fighting between separatists and the government in Kiev. Minister Zaorálek’s comments contrast with the suggestion by president Miloš Zeman a week ago that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine appeared sporadic and that sanctions against Russia might be dropped by the end of the year if Moscow was shown to be abiding by the Minsk ceasefire conditions.
A Czech could wake up Saturday to find him/herself 2.466 billion crowns richer. The winner of a record Eurojackpot lottery prize has been identified as coming from the country. The prize is the biggest jackpot so far, outstripping the 1.7 billion crowns won earlier by a Finn. The prize winner has 35 days to claim the jackpot. None of the sum is subject to Czech tax.
In ice hockey, the Czech team lost in the semi-final against Canada 0:2 on Saturday. Canada opened the scoring with Taylor Hall in the eighth minute and Jason Spezza in the 30th adding a second with no reply from the Czechs. Michál Jordan found the net for the Czech in the second period but the goal was disallowed because of an infringement by Petr Koukal. The Canadians looked dominant throughout the match with Jaromír Jágr failing to reproduce the magic from Thursday night. The Czechs will now face the US or Russia for a bronze medal.
Czech industry minister Jan Mládek has raised hopes the US producer of electric cars and high performance batteries, Tesla, could choose the Czech Republic for its first European factory. Mládek said the Czech Republic would be an ideal site for the manufacturer during a current trip to the US. The Czech Republic already produced more than a million cars a year and has an excess of electricity, the minister pointed out. Tesla is looking to site a factory in Europe but has said that depends on sales of electric cars reaching around 160,000 a year compared with the current figure of around 10,000.
Czech arms exports rose by more than 50 percent last year compared with 2013 to total around 12 billion crowns in value, according to the Defence and Security Industry Association. The results are the best for the sector since 1994. Exports are crucial for the Czech arms industry, accounting for around 90 percent of turnover. Most of the sales are outside Europe and NATO countries. In spite of the success, Minister of Defence Martin Stropnický has said that the industry still has room to increase sales.
A strong turnout for the 50th anniversary march between Prague and the central Bohemian town of Prčice was expected Saturday. Organisers said that early evidence suggested many walkers would take part in the various walks, the longest of which is 70 kilometres long. The tradition walk on the third weekend in May enjoyed its heyday in the 1980s when around 30,000 took part. In recent years, attendance has been more like 20,000.
A Czech government plane with 10 rescuers and four medics on board as well as tonnes of humanitarian aid took off from Prague on Friday night bound for Nepal. The humanitarian flight from the Czech Republic will in part allow some of the current aid workers on site since the end of April to be replaced. Space on the return flight has been earmarked for others seeking to evacuate the earthquake hit country. So far 22 places have been filled, mostly by citizens not from the Czech Republic.
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