Daily news summary


Interior Ministry registers increase in asylum seekers from Ukraine

Around 250 Ukrainian citizens have applied for asylum in the Czech Republic since the start of the year, an official of the country’s Interior Ministry told a Senate committee on Thursday. The number of applications has risen by several dozen due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, according to the ministry. The Senate committee also heard that the Ministry was is closely monitoring the situation in cooperation with Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and other countries to increase the country’s preparedness for a potential influx of refugees.

Cyber security bill signed into law

President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday signed into law a bill on cyber security, a spokesman for the president said. The legislation, put forward by the National Security Authority, introduces rules for cooperation between the public and private sectors in preventing IT attacks. The act establishes a coordination centre to allow fast response to attacks by communications providers; it requires providers to report security incidents to the National Security Authority, and gives the agency the authority to declare nation-wide state of cyber emergency. The legislation will enter into force in January 2015.

Uber car service app launched in Prague

The Uber car service app has been launched in Prague, representatives of the US startup firm told reporters on Wednesday. The application, which allows its users to order private-hire cars as an alternative to taxi services, comes to Prague as the first city in central and eastern Europe, the company said. The number of participating drivers has not been released. Uber’s arrival in several European cities sparked protests by local taxi drivers who complained of unfair competition.

Czech tourists stranded in Greece after travel agency fails

Some 120 Czech tourists have been stranded in Greece after their tour operator HELLAS declared bankruptcy on Wednesday. Nine of their clients are set to return to the Czech Republic on Wednesday while the others are being contacted by an assistance service, according to the Generali insurance firm which provided insolvency insurance to the tour operator. HELLAS quoted issues with their Greek partners, the weak Czech crown and low package tours prices as the reason behind their collapse. It has become the third Czech tour operator to declare bankruptcy this season.

US software firm Red Hat expands Brno branch

The US software company Red Hat has expanded its branch in Brno, and will hire another 350 workers, the head of the branch, Radovan Musil, told the ČTK news agency on Wednesday. Red Hat, which specializes in open-source software, set up their operation in Brno in 2004, and now employs around 600 people in the Czech Republic. It has acquired another 3,800 square metres of office space in the city, making it the firm’s largest development hub outside the US.

Prague pipe burst leaves 100,000 without water

Up to 100,000 people in Prague have been left without running water after an underground pipe burst in the Dejvice district in the capital. The accident occurred at around 7 AM on Wednesday morning, cutting water supplies in the districts of Dejvice, Vokovice, Liboc and Bubeneč, a spokeswoman for the city’s water management firm said. The company has supplied tanks of drinking water to the affected areas, and said regular water supplies should resume later on Wednesday.

Poll: Most Czechs want broader role for GPs

Around three quarters of Czechs would welcome general practitioners being given broader powers, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the INRES agency. The OECD has recommended that the Czech Republic increased the role of GPs, particularly in treating chronic diseases. Some 77.5 percent of almost 1,800 people polled said they would like to see GPs being allowed to prescribe medicines that are currently only available from specialists.

Ex-teacher sentenced to 24 years for murdering student and her grandfather

A court in Ostrava sentenced a 31-year-old former secondary school teacher to 24 years in prison for the murders of one of his students and her grandfather. The court also ordered the man to pay 2.6 million crowns in compensation to the victims’ relatives and to health insurance firms. The court said that the man was engaged in a relationship with a one of his students. When the 17-year-old girl left him after one month, he arrived at her house, shooting her and her grandfather dead and seriously wounding the student’s grandmother. He was arrested shortly after the rampage.

Prague zoo gets new Indian elephant

Prague Zoo has acquired an Indian elephant with a view to increasing breeding. The Burma-born 31-year-old male, which is named Ankhor and weighs around four tonnes, was transported from Berlin on Tuesday night by means of a special truck. The animal could be presented to the public in Prague next week, the zoo's director said.

Five Czechs advance at European athletics championships

Czech high jumper Jaroslav Bába has advanced to the finals of the European Athletics Championships in Zürich after finishing on shared first place in Wednesday's qualification. Hammer thrower Kateřina Šafránková finished 11th in the qualification, and has also advanced to the event's finals. Denisa Rosolová, meanwhile, has booked semi-final berth after winning her 400 metre hurdles heat. Another two Czechs on Wednesday qualified for their events’ semi-finals: Petr Svobova in men’s 110 metres hurdles and Lenka Masná in ladies’ 800 metres.