Daily news summary

Median: two-thirds of Czechs say the president is dividing society

A new poll commissioned by Czech Radio, conducted by the Median agency, suggests that two-thirds of the population thinks the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has divided society and the same number is unsatisfied with how the head-of-state has represented the Czech Republic abroad. The survey comes on the heels of an earlier poll which found that public trust in Mr Zeman had dropped by a record number over the course of a single month. Public dissatisfaction with Mr Zeman's handling of the office has increased in relation to a marked pro-Russian stance and pro-Russian interpretation of events in Ukraine, the use of vulgar language in a recent traditional radio interview where he attacked the activist band Pussy Riot, and a questionable approach to China on a recent official visit. The president's office has maintained that foreign policy steps taken by Mr Zeman were in line with the government's foreign policy plans but critics have suggested otherwise. The prime minister is to discuss the matter with the president in mid-December.

Washington Post slams President Zeman in editorial

The editorial board of the US daily the Washington Post published a scathing editorial on Friday slamming leaders in the former eastern bloc, specifically Czech President Miloš Zeman and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The daily, reflecting on notable pro-Russian statements in the face of EU sanctions and the crisis in Ukraine, described the Czech president as a "virtual mouthpiece for Russian President Vladimir Putin" and maintained as worrying that the current Czech government had distanced itself from a human rights agenda laid out in the 1990's by the former president Václav Havel. The late Mr Havel was honored in Washington this week with a ceremonial bust unveiling. But his legacy has been questioned by some Czech ministry officials as well as long criticised by former president and rival Václav Klaus and associates.

In its piece, the Washington Post noted as positive that the behavior of both Mr Orban and Mr Zeman had led to protests in their respective countries. On November 17th, the Czech head-of-state was jeered by students during a plaque unveiling and his security detail had to open umbrellas to prevent the president from being pelted with eggs. Mr Zeman told the people in the crowd he was unafraid of them as he was unafraid to protest 25 years ago.

PM against 14 percent wage increase for politicians

The Social Democrat leadership has come out against a proposed monthly wage increase for members of the legislature and the executive branch proposed by the budget committee of the lower house. If passed, MPs would see their monthly salary jump by more than 8000 crowns to 64 thousand. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wants to meet with party MPs to discuss the matter. He is reportedly in favour of an increase of 3.5 percent, the same as for state employees.

Transport train cars derail near Ostrava

Two cars of a Polish transport trained derailed on track near Ostrava late Friday and were dragged 1.5 kilometres along the side of the route before the vehicle stopped, broken into three pieces. No one was hurt on the incident. Damage to the railways, including utility poles which were struck down, has been tabulated at 5.6 million crowns. Use of the route will be limited for the next few weeks as repairs are conducted.

Police track down priceless 16th and 17th century statues

Czech police have revealed and returned to the original owners two priceless wooden statues dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The statues, of two saints, Jan Nepomuk and Vojtěch, were stolen around 20 years ago, from a church and a historic monuments depository. The discovery was made in April in neighboring Austria.

Cooler temperatures expected only shortly before Christmas

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and a long-term forecast released on Saturday,temperatures in the run-up to this year's Christmas holidays are expected to be milder than usual. In December, daily temperatures should on average around six degrees Celsius in the days before the holidays, only dropping to zero around Christmas Eve.

Elite units cooperate on car theft case

Elite police units from the regions of Karlovy Vary, Ústí, and Central Bohemia, as well as in neighboring Germany, succeeded after a several-month-long operation in uncovering a gang of car thieves who caused at least five million crowns in damages. Three men in their 40s have been arrested. Searches of the suspects' premises uncovered parts from at least 40 vehicles.