Daily news summary

Ministry rejects proposal to downgrade Šumava National Park

The Czech Environment Ministry has rejected a proposal by the management of the Šumava National Park to downgrade it from category II of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to category IV, the news agency ČTK reported on Monday. The management pushed for the downgrade to be able to extend logging areas within the park. However, the ministry also plans to limit the park’s non-intervention zones from the current 30 percent of its area to 23 percent. While environmentalists welcome the ministry’s rejection of the downgrading proposal, they said the plan to decrease the park’s non-intervention zone was shocking.

Prague police report major drop in number of offences last year

Prague’s municipal police dealt with over 836,000 offences last year, which was more than 22 percent less than in 2012, according to the force’s annual report released by Prague City Hall. A spokeswoman for the municipal police said the drop was due to changes in traffic legislation that came into force last year; officers also provided assistance during floods which hit the capital last august, and also focused primarily on combatting more serious offences and crimes. Traffic offences were by far the most frequent offences processed by Prague municipal police last year.

Five people die in Easter road crashes

Five people have died in car accidents on Czech roads since Friday, the second lowest number of casualties in 15 years. Four victims died on Friday, two of them in a single crash near Teplice. On Monday, several serious accidents occurred; five people were injured after a car crashed into a bus near Hodonín, in south Moravia. The lowest number of road casualties in the last 15 years was recorded in 2003 when three people died over the Easter weekend.

Traditional customs observed on Easter Monday, Czech public holiday

Traditional folk customs are observed on Easter Monday, a public holiday in the Czech Republic. In a popular custom known as pomlázka, male carollers whip women and girls get with braided willow sticks decorated with ribbons. In return, they give men painted eggs. The custom has pre-Christian roots in pagan fertility rites. Legend has it that women that go whipped on Easter Monday will remain healthy and fertile for the entire year.

Prague’s biggest funfair Matějská pouť draws bigger crowds

Some 157,000 people have visited Matějská pouť, the biggest funfair in the capital, since it opened on March 1, organizers told the news agency ČTK. Another 3,000 people are expected before the funfair closes on Monday night. Last year, a total of 117,000 visitors arrived at the fair, mainly due to poor weather. Matějská pout was originally a pilgrimage to St Mathew’s church in Dejvice, first recorded in late 16th century. It is now however a secular event held each years at Prague’s exhibition grounds in Holešovice.

Hockey: Czech U-18 team book spot at world championships’ quarter-finals

The Czech Under-18 national hockey team defeated hosts Finland 4:3 on penalty shootings at the World Championships in Finland on Sunday to book a spot in the event’s quarter-finals. The Czech goals came from Vrána, Smejkal and Karabáček; Vrána also scored the decisive penalty. The Czech team is ranked third in Group B at the championships, trailing Finland and the US.

Football: Sparta closes in on league title

Sparta Prague defeated city rival Dukla 3:1 in the Gambrinus liga’s round 25 on Sunday, and increased their lead at the top of the table to 13 points ahead of defending champions Viktoria Plzeň. Sparta’s Hušbauer scored twice in the game, another goal came from Kadeřábek. Plzeň play their match later on Monday but Sparta could celebrate the first title in four years as soon as next weekend.