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Chinese president to visit Prague on March 28 and 29

Details have been released of the visit to the Czech Republic by Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 28 and 29, the first by a Chinese head of state. The Chinese president will visit his Czech counterpart Miloš Zeman at both Prague Castle and the Lány residence outside Prague. A business forum will also be attended by Xi Jinping a large delegation of accompanying businessmen. Czech Television reported that the president will also have a working breakfast with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. President Zeman has suggested the Chinese are ready to invest around 45 billion crowns and sign around 20 agreements during the visit which is the only European stopover on a trip to the United States.

Record participation seen in Czech Tibetan flag protest against China

A record number of Czech local and city councils are due to take part in the annual Flag for Tibet day, a protest against the Chinese occupation of the country, according to organisers. Seven hundred and twenty three councils have said they will hang Tibetan flags out on March 10, up from the 697 who promised to take part in the action in 2015. Some councils are reportedly intending to leave the flags until the end of March, when a visit to Prague is expected by the Chinese president. Prague City Council says it will not take part in the move. It recently agreed a controversial twinning agreement with Beijing. March 10 commemorates the Tibetan uprising against the Chinese occupation on the same day in 1959.

Czech PM starts two-day Bavaria visit

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek will start a two-day working visit to the state of Bavaria on Thursday. They will meet with the president of the region Horst Seehofer. One of the main targets of the trip is to firm up cooperation on research and development between the Czech Republic and Germany’s most affluent region. The question of improved rail links will also be raised. The Czech prime minister is also scheduled to visit the site where the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938 by France, Germany, Italy, and Britain. The move agreed the takeover of the border Sudetenland by Nazi Germany and sparked the break-up of Czechoslovakia.

Environment ministry tasked with law to cut fossil fuel dependence

The Czech government has tasked the Ministry of Environment with preparing a new law to cut the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, including oil, coal, and natural gas. The move was agreed on condition that steps will not undermine economic competitiveness. Environment groups have long been pressing for the step saying that it is needed to meet European climate change goals by 2050 but arguments had continued within the government whether just a broad concept or law would be required. Use of fossil fuels is already set to decline under an already agreed energy framework with such fuels set to cover just over half of the country’s energy needs by 2040.

Prague deputy mayor suggests alternative site for Klinika centre

Prague deputy mayor Petr Dolínek has suggested that activists occupying an improvised social centre should be moved to a former nursery school building in the Prague 4 district. The Social Democrat politicians said the district was not against the move for the activists from Žižkov’s Klinika centre. They have been occupying the building, used as an alternative cultural centre and for offering help to immigrants, although the short term lease on it from a state authority ran out last week. Dolínek added that Prague City Council could try and buy the Klinika building but this would take a long time with an uncertain outcome. The Klinika centre was the target for a firebomb attack, probably by an anti-immigrant group. Police are still investigating.

US murder suspect cleared to face criminal charges

An expert psychiatric evaluation has come to the conclusion that suspected US murderer Kevin Dahlgren was sane when the killing of his Czech cousin and family took place. US citizen Dahlgren is the main suspect for the killing in 2013 of his cousin, her husband and their two sons at their home in Brno. He was extradited from the US to face charges in the Czech Republic last August. South Moravian police say their recommended charges should be sent to the state prosecutor by the end of this month. Criminal charges would have had to be dropped against Dahlgren if he had been found mentally unstable.

Czech MEP awarded highest Russian honour by President Vladimir Putin

Czech Member of the European Parliament Jiří Maštálka has been awarded Russia’s highest honour for a foreigner, the Order of Friendship. The honour was bestowed by President Vladimir Putin on March 10. Maštálka, an MEP for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, said the award was recognition of his efforts over around 20 years to build links between Czech and Russian schools and generally improve relations between the countries. At the European Parliament he has pushed for a softening of European sanctions against Russia over the annexation of Crimea and war in Eastern Ukraine.

Government clears home loans for young families

The Czech government on Wednesday night agreed to provide in future home loans to families seeking to buy a flat or house. The offer will be made to families with children aged under 36. Loans can range from 50,000 crowns to a maximum 600,000 crowns with the normal payback over 15 years. This year around 100 million crowns has been earmarked for such loans from the State Fund for Housing Development. The Christian Democrats, among the main backers of the move, welcomed the step but leaders said they hoped more substantial help might be offered in the future.

Czech police in Europol drug crackdown

Czech police take part in Europol crackdown on marihuana gang Six people were detained in the Czech Republic in a Europol organized police clampdown on a marihuana drugs ring organized out of Spain. Around 120 police took part in the action in the Czech Republic which included searches of six homes Around two dozen Serbians were detained in the same action in Spain. The Czech Republic was mostly used for growing marihuana with the final destination for drugs being Spain.

Sparta Prague face Lazio in Europa League last 16

In football, Sparta Prague face Lazio Rome at home in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday night. Coach Zděnek Šcasný says he will not be underestimating the Italian team although they are only eighth place in the Seria A league. He says he was impressed by Lazio’s last Europa League performance against Turkish side Galatasary. Šcasný refused to comment on whether Sparta top striker David Lafata will play from the start. The return leg will be played in Rome on March 17. Sparta have never made it to the last eight of the Europa League.