Daily news summary

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People in Číhošť recall village church “miracle” and death of priest Toufar

At a mass on Sunday people in the Bohemian village of Číhošť recalled the events of 70 years ago when a cross reputedly moved during a mass conducted by priest Josef Toufar. The Communist authorities used the purported miracle, which took place on the third Sunday of advent in 1949, as a pretext for an attack on the church.

Father Toufar was later tortured by the StB and signed a confession saying he had personally faked the miracle. He was later forced to take part in a filmed “reconstruction” but had been so badly beaten by his interrogators that he died in February 1950.

Other events were also held in Číhošť on Sunday, including a talk given by journalist Miloš Doležal, who wrote a well-received book exploring the events surrounding the miracle and the priest’s death.

Bookies make Babiš favourite for next Czech president

Bookmakers in the Czech Republic make the country’s current prime minister, Andrej Babiš, favourite to succeed incumbent Miloš Zeman as president. The current odds on the ANO leader becoming head of state are 6.5:1, which places Mr. Babiš ahead of the independent Pavel Fischer on 7:1, a spokesperson for the Fortuna betting company told the Czech News Agency.

Almost a quarter of bets received to date are for the prime minister to win, while 16 percent of punters are backing ex-army general Petr Pavel.

New timetable signals changes on Czech railways

A new timetable came into effect on the Czech Republic’s railways on Sunday. The biggest changes have been felt in regional transport while private companies have begun offering services on some district lines. Intervals have also been shortened on some highly used routes while the ticket system has been changed in some regions.

Traditional carrier Czech Railways has lost some lines ordered by the state or regions to private rail companies but still maintains a 90-percent share of the market and runs an average of almost 7,000 trains a day.

Also on Sunday services resumed at Brno’s Main Station after a break of a year for repair work.

WWII vet Boček presents first Moral Authority prize

The last surviving pilot from the RAF’s WWII Czechoslovak squadrons, Emil Boček, presented the Moral Authority prize to nine people from the Czech Republic and Slovakia on Saturday evening, Czech Television reported. The awards were handed out for the first time during a Christmas concert organised by World War II veterans.

Among the recipients were the head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka, the director of Prague’s Central Military Hospital, Miroslav Zavoral, and the supreme state attorney, Lenka Bradáčová.

Emil Boček, who is 96, also handed out another honour, the Emil Boček Memorial Medal. It was received by active soldiers and police officers and the ministers of interior and defence, Jan Hamáček and Lubomír Metnar.

CEZ: Brexit will weaken EU states producing nuclear power

The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union will weaken the group of EU states that use nuclear power to generate electricity, according to the Czech energy provider CEZ. CEZ trades on the UK wholesale energy markets and it is not clear how the post-Brexit situation will look, company spokesperson Ladislav Kříž told the Czech News Agency.

Mr. Kříž said half of the EU’s 28 states used nuclear energy and the departure of the UK would tip the balance toward countries that do not. In addition, Germany is planning to cease using nuclear power. The UK, which is preparing to build more nuclear power stations, was a strong ally of the Czech Republic in the EU, the CEZ representative said.

State Opera handed over before reopening in January

The construction company Hochtief will officially hand over the renovated State Opera Prague to its management of the National Theatre on Sunday. The building, a stone’s throw from the top of Wenceslas Square, must then undergo a final inspection. The renovation job was initially budgeted at CZK 900 million but the final cost rose to CZK 1.3 billion.

The State Opera is set to reopen on January 5 with a special show. The building last underwent thorough renovations around the turn of the 1970s.

Warm weather for period due before Christmas

Unusually warm weather for the time of year is expected in the Czech Republic in the week before the Christmas holidays, the Czech Hydro Meteorological Institute said in a regular four-week forecast. Next week temperatures will reach up to 13 degrees Celsius, while it will not freeze even at night.

Though a white Christmas is unlikely in most of the country, snow is expected in the days following the holiday as temperatures fall. Regardless of that, temperatures for the December 16 to January 12 period will be above long-term averages.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast in the Czech Republic on Monday, with temperatures of around 8 degrees Celsius. The remainder of the week is expected to see mainly cloudy weather with daytime highs ranging from 8 to 10 degrees Celsius.