Daily news summary

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President will not apologize for vulgar language on radio

President Miloš Zeman sees no reason to apologize for the vulgar language he used in a live interview for Czech Radio on Sunday, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told journalists on Tuesday. The president’s use of three extremely vulgar expressions has come under fire from both the public and politicians across the board. The president’s spokesman said Mr. Zeman used the words intentionally to highlight the hypocrisy of his critics and opponents who saw no reason to complain about vulgar language commonly used by some leading Czech politicians.

Czech senator confirms having monitored separatist elections in Luhansk

Czech Senator Jaroslav Doubrava has confirmed that he monitored the Luhansk separatist elections as an international observer. He claims he did not know who exactly invited him to join the international observer team saying that the invitation had been mediated by a friend of his. The senator, who was formerly a member of the Communist Party, told journalists it had been a private visit but admitted to having used his diplomatic passport. Kiev has called the separatist elections “a farce” and put the 18 observers from around Europe who monitored them on a persona non grata list in Ukraine.

Czech scientists make progress in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease

Czech scientists say they have found a way to detect Alzheimer in its early stages. Researchers from Prague’s Psychiatric Care Centre and Vinohrady hospital in Prague based their research on the heightened presence of certain anti-bodies in a given part of the brain which they believe signals the development of Alzheimer’s disease before other symptoms become apparent. Early treatment can significantly slow down the progression of the disease for which there is no cure. Approximately 140,000 people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in the Czech Republic.

Demonstration in support of Czech mother whose sons are in foster care in Norway

Several dozen people on Tuesday demonstrated in support of a Czech mother who had her two young sons taken away by the Norwegian authorities in 2011 on suspicion of sexual abuse. Although this was later disproven in court, the two children remain in foster care in Norway. The mother appealed to the European Court of Human Rights but failed to win them back. The Czech minister of labour and social affairs, Michaela Marksová says she has requested an explanation from her Norwegian counterpart. The case has also received attention and support from the head of the Our Children Fund and newly elected senator Zuzana Baudysová.

EC releases growth forecast for Czech Republic

The European Commission has released its economic growth forecast for the Czech Republic which predicts a growth of 2.5 percent for 2014 and 2.7 percent for the next two years. The deficit in public financing is expected to stay well below the recommended 3 percent of GDP. In 2014 the Commission predicts a gap in spending of 1.4 percent of the GDP, 2.1 percent next year and 1.7 percent in 2016. The forecast is slightly more optimistic than the one released by the Czech Finance Ministry which recently reviewed its economic growth forecast for this year down from 2.7 to 2.4 percent of the GDP. Its growth forecast for the next two years is 2.5 percent.

Human rights minister Jiří Dienstbier to run for party deputy chair

The minister for human rights and minorities, Jiří Dienstbier, has announced his intention to run for the post of deputy chair of the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Dienstbier said he wanted to more actively contribute to the internal reform and revitalization of the party. The ruling Social Democrats are to elect a new party leadership in the spring. The party leader, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is expected to run for the top post unchallenged.

Forex interventions spur tourism, but damage travel agencies

The forex interventions launched by the Czech National Bank last year, in order to weaken the crown, have brought a higher number of tourists to the Czech Republic. In the first two quarters of 2014 the number of tourists from neighbouring countries rose on average from 6 to 10 percent, with the highest number of visitors from Austria and Slovakia. However the interventions negatively affected the profit margins of travel agencies.

Czech finance minister cited as richest Slovak by Forbes

The Czech finance minister, Andrej Babiš, is featured by Forbes Magazine as being the richest Slovak. His property is estimated at two billion euros. Billionaire Petr Kellner remains the richest Czech with assets estimated at 9.6 billion US dollars.

Prague Hilton for sale

The Prague Hilton, the largest Czech hotel with 791 rooms, has been put up for sale, and its managerial contract with the Hilton chain will soon expire, property consultant JLL told the Czech News Agency on Tuesday. Avid Asset Management, the current owner of the hotel, empowered JLL to mediate the deal; the price was not disclosed. The new owner will be able to change the name. With over 7,000 square metres of meeting space, the Prague Hilton ranks among the largest conference hotels in Central and Eastern Europe. Avid Asset Management has put over 50 million euros in the modernisation of the hotel since 2004. The hotel has hosted many important figures and was the choice for US presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Vandals set on fire 13 cars in Brno

Police in Brno are looking for vandals who set on fire thirteen cars in the course of the night. According to a police spokesman no one was injured and it appears that the cars were chosen at random. Four of them burnt to the ground, nine were severely damaged.