Daily news summary

Czech prime minister congratulates Slovak president-elect

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has congratulated businessman Andrej Kiska – a candidate in neighboring Slovakia who defeated Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico in the presidential election runoff on Saturday. Mr Kiska, a political newcomer, received almost 60 percent of the vote. According to Czech-Slovak tradition, the new Slovak president's first official foreign visit will be to the Czech capital.

President says he respects election result

In related news, Czech President Miloš Zeman has issued a statement saying he respected the results of Slovakia’s presidential election, stressing he would be sending Mr Kiska congratulations, the president’s spokesman confirmed. Mr Zeman openly supported Kiska’s rival, Prime Minister Robert Fico in the Slovak election. Earlier he praised the Slovak prime minister for “uniting the political left” in his country and for “keeping promises”. Mr Fico was solidly defeated in Saturday’s election runoff, receiving 40.61 percent to Mr Kiska’s 59.38.

President backs Citizens’ Rights

Czech President Miloš Zeman gave full backing to the extra-parliamentary Citizens’ Rights on Saturday, saying the party was a due a restart after last year’s poor result in the general election. He made clear he favored the party dropping the word ‘Zemanites’ from its name, to focus on a new programme, new leaders and new ideas ahead of communal, and later parliamentary, elections. He also said he would be happy to stay on as honorary chairman. Citizens’ Rights elected former head of the Agrarian Chamber, Jan Veleba, party leader, on Saturday. Mr Veleba has taken a page politically from Mr Zeman, drawing inspiration from the so-called Scandinavian model ie. social state.

Prague takes part in Earth Hour

The Czech capital Prague joined other major capitals and cities around the world in Earth Hour on Saturday night, turning off lights at major sites. Paris, for example, switched off lighting for one hour at the landmark Eiffel Tower, New York at the Empire State Building, and Rio de Janeiro at the world-famous statue Christ the Redeemer. In Prague, lights were turned off at the Castle and the Žižkov TV Tower. Earth Hour was launched in 2007 as a symbol of renewed commitment to the planet.

Moravia-Silesia affected by poor air quality

Poor air quality is continuing to affect the region of Moravia-Silesia, the Hydro-meteorological Institute has warned, with the concentration of dust particles exceeding twice the legal limit. The region often suffers poor air quality due to heavy industry, transport and home heating, with smog affecting locals most in the winter months.

Josef Somr awarded lifetime achievement Thalia

Legendary Czech actor Josef Somr, 79, received a lifetime achievement award for his work in the theatre at the 2014 Thalia Awards held in Prague on Saturday night. Others awarded on the evening included director and playwright Ladislav Smoček and Dagmar Rosikova (for her lifelong contribution to the musical and opera). Tereza Vilisová received a Thalia for her performance in My Romantic Story, while Petr Mikeska was awarded for his role in Total Eclipse.

Twenty-year-old blonde is new Česká Miss

Twenty-year-old Gabriela Franková from Brno won the Czech beauty competition Česká Miss on Saturday – the result decided by voters online or by text message. The winner defeated eight other finalists and received the crown at Karlin’s Hudební divadlo from legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren, who headed the jury. Franková will represent the Czech Republic in the international competition Miss Universe.