Daily news summary


Zeman invites Putin and other heads of state to visit Czech Republic in January

President Miloš Zeman has invited representatives of the WWII victorious powers, including Vladimir Putin, to visit the Czech Republic in January, the spokesman for the Presidential Office Jiří Ovčáček told the Czech Radio on Tuesday. The heads of state of the United States, Russia, Great Britain and France were invited on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Auschwitz, on January 27. The politicians have not yet confirmed whether they will take part in the event.

Around 20,000 people attend concert marking events of November 17

Some 20,000 people attended a concert on Wenceslas Square on Monday, organized by Czech Radio, marking the 25th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution. Performers included notable personalities who figured in the 1989 revolution such as Michal Prokop and Jaroslav Hutka. During the evening, many lit candles at the memorial to Jan Palach and at the statue of St. Wenceslas, while some held signs echoing discontent from earlier in the day with the country’s president.

PM reacts to protests against president

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, on an official four-day visit to the US, has reacted to protests against Czech head-of-state Miloš Zeman on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which toppled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. In a text message to the Czech News Agency, the prime minister noted that while the throwing of eggs at the president was “unacceptable aggression”, Mr Zeman likewise, in his view, shouldn’t have used expletives in a recent radio broadcast, nor relativized the brutality of a crackdown by communist riot police against students on November 17th, 1989.

The prime minister has come out critically against Mr Zeman before, saying the president had cast the Czech Republic in a bad light through the use of vulgar expressions. The foreign press noted on Monday that many Czechs were opposed to a strong pro-Russian stance by the president or his behaviour on a recent trip to China. One German daily suggested that some Czechs longed for a “new” Václav Havel – in other words, a strong moral authority. The late Mr Havel was brought to power in the Velvet Revolution and oversaw the country’s return to democracy after more than 40 years of totalitarian rule.

President Zeman to appoint Dan Ťok transport minister in December

President Miloš Zeman will appoint Dan Ťok transport minister on December 4. Mr Ťok, who has served as CEO of Skanska, one the country’s biggest construction firms, confirmed the news after an hour-long meeting with the president on Tuesday. Dan Ťok was nominated by the ANO party to replace Antonín Prachař who resigned last week. His nomination has already been approved by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

PM Sobotka to meet with US vice president Joe Biden

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who is on a four-day visit to the United States, is set to meet with vice president Joe Biden in the White House on Tuesday. Mr Sobotka along with his delegation, including former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg and former First Lady Dagmar Havlová, on Monday attended a concert of the Czech Philharmonic at the National Cathedral in Washington to mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The Czech Prime Minister is also set to unveil a bust of Václav Havel in the Capitol Building, where Mr. Havel addressed a joint session of Congress in February 1990.

Post Bellum hand out Memory of the Nation awards

The non-profit organisation Post Bellum, which documents important historical phenomena of the 20th century through eyewitness accounts, handed out its annual Memory of the Nation awards on Monday night. This year’s recipients are German Manfred Matthies, who helped to smuggle people across the Iron Curtain, Czech teacher Dana Vargová, who was involved in anti-regime activities while looking after her disabled son, János Kenedi, a leading figure of the Hungarian underground, Slovak priest Anton Srholc and Polish dissident Kornel Mazowiecki.

Roman Janoušek starts to serve four-year term in prison

Businessman Roman Janoušek started to serve his four-year sentence in Prague’s Ruzyně prison on Tuesday for a hit and run incident which occurred in 2012. Mr Janoušek has previously filed a request with Prague Municipal Court to postpone his sentence on health grounds. According to his lawyer, Mr. Janoušek suffers from health problems following a brain operation and allegedly needs further surgery. The court is to deal with the case on Wednesday.

Nine people injured by explosion in Paskov

Nine people were injured in an explosion that occurred in the customs office building in Paskov in the region of Frýdek-Místek on Tuesday morning, a spokesperson for the local fire brigade told the Czech News Agency. Six people were hospitalised after being injured by the blast, one of them seriously. Thirty people were evacuated from the building. Police are now searching the site to find the cause of the explosion. There was no gas supply to the building.

Czech car production set to reach record growth of nearly 12 percent

Car production in the Czech Republic is likely to reach a record 1.2 million in 2014, according to the head of the country’s Automotive Industry Association Antonín Šípek. The production of cars over the past ten months has grown by nearly 12 percent compared to the same period last year, to 1.047 million. The country’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto increased its production by 5 percent to more than 600,000 cars. The current record for car production is 1.195 million, registered in 2011.

Dominik Hašek inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame

Dominik Hašek, former Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings star and one of the best goalies in the history of NHL, has been inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Toronto on Monday night. The 49-year-old Olympic champion and two-time Stanley Cup winner announced his retirement in 2012. Dominik Hašek is the first Czech hockey player to be introduced in the Hall of Fame. Fellow players in the class of 2014 are Peter Forsberg, Mike Modano, and defenseman Rob Blake.