Daily news summary

Pompeo may attend 75th anniversary of liberation of Plzeň

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, may attend events in Plzeň in May marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Czech city at the end of World War II, the Czech News Agency said. The American foreign policy chief has received an invitation from the Czech side and confirmation is now being awaited, it reported.

The Czech News Agency said Mr. Pompeo had discussed a possible visit to the Czech Republic with the country’s ministry of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, at the ongoing Munich Security Conference.

Events marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Plzeň will culminate on May 6, when US forces led by General George S. Patton entered the city in 1945.

Minister says vignette sales system will cost third of original price

The minister of transport, Karel Havlíček, says a planned online sales system for motorway vignettes should now cost around CZK 128 million, far lower than the CZK 401 million price agreed in a previous tender process. Mr. Havlíček told the Deník N news site that the savings would mainly come in the sphere of security. His predecessor in the post, Vladimír Kremlík, was dismissed following the initial tender process.

Mr. Havlíček, who is also minister of industry and trade, said the new system may also draw on the results of a hackathon last month in which volunteer programmers created an alternative system.

Work to start Monday on new Marian column on Prague’s Old Town Sq.

Work looks set to begin next week on a replacement for a Marian column removed from Prague’s Old Town Square over a century ago, the Czech News Agency reported. The sculptor who has designed the new column, Petr Váňa, said archaeological research would start on Monday and installation should take place between late April and mid September.

The original 17th century Marian column was regarded by some as a symbol of Austrian rule and was torn down by protestors in 1918, shortly after Czechoslovakia was founded. There has been heated debate over whether to replace it.

Civic group hold anti-Airbnb protest in Prague Airbnb flat

A protest against Airbnb is being held this weekend in a Prague apartment rented via the accommodation services provider. A group called Stop Airbnb have invited members of the general public to take part in a weekend-long series of events aimed at highlighting the damage being caused to communities in central Prague as it is extremely given over to tourism.

Among those attending the launch of the “happening” was the mayor of Prague, Zdeněk Hřib. He said the city was working on legislation to make it easier to force renters to adhere to regulations regarding the provision of such services. Over 13,000 apartments in the Czech capital are being offered via Airbnb-style services.

Doctors save patient's life with artificial extracorporeal lung

Doctors in the Czech Republic have for the first time fitted a patient with an artificial extracorporeal lung, Novinky.cz reported. The procedure has only been carried out 20 times in the world, the news site said. It saved the life of a 35-year-old patient with severe pulmonary hypertension, who will subsequently undergo a lung transplant.

Medics at Prague’s General Teaching Hospital said that when the patient arrived in December she had been dying due to massive loss of blood from her lungs and heart failure.

Press: Regions to get power to impose hose-pipe bans

Czech regional authorities are to receive powers to regulate the use of water, including through hose-pipe bans, Právo reported on Saturday. Under a government bill, regional commissions will be able in crisis situations to declare water shortages and impose usage restrictions independently, the daily said. The legislation is set to go before the lower house in a second reading.

The minister of the environment, Richard Brabec, said experience of recent droughts had shown that the uncontrolled use of water by industry, agriculture and households would have to change in future. The country has been hit by drought over successive summers.

Sensational sprint bronze for Charvátová at biathlon worlds

Czech Lucie Charvátová caused a sensation when she took bronze in the sprint at the Biathlon World Championships in Italy’s Anterselva. The 27-year-old only had the 19th best time on the 7.5 kilometre cross country skiing track but did very well in the shooting part of the event.

Following the best result of her career to date Charvátová said she had frequently faced criticism and considered quitting the biathlon. Among those she thanked was Egil Gjelland, the Norwegian coach of the Czech team.

Weather forecast

Sunday should be overcast in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 11 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs are not expected to fall below 4 degrees Celsius next week, when it will be mainly cloudy.