Daily news summary


Czech population slips in 2013 as more people quit country

The population of the Czech Republic fell in 2013 for the first time in 10 years. The Czech Statistics Office Friday said the population slipped to just over 10.512 million by the end of the year. The biggest factors in the fall of around 3,700 in the total population were more deaths than births and more people quitting the country than coming in. It is the first time since 2001 that more people have left the Czech Republic than arrived. There were also fewer weddings and abortions last year but more divorces.

Funeral ceremony for Věra Chytilová takes place in Prague

Personalities from the Czech filmmaking world paid a last tribute to director Věra Chytilová on Friday. The funeral of the famous Czech new wave filmmaker was held at Prague’s Strašnice crematorium. Those present included long time Karlovy Vary Film Festival organizer Eva Zaoralová and documentary film maker Olga Sommerová. Chytilová died at the age of 85 on March 12. A native of Ostrava, Chytilová became a leading figure of the new wave of Czech cinema of the 1960s with films such as Daises and Fruit of Paradise; her best-known later movies include Prefab Story, Calamity, The Jester and the Queen, and others.

Czech PM calls for consideration of Ukraine minorities

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka warned Ukraine authorities to prepare the foundations for the country’s continued integrity by reacting sensitively to the demands of ethnic minorities. Sobotka was speaking at the conclusion of a two-day summit of heads of government in Brussels. The Czech prime minister indicated recent attempts in Kiev to revoke the status of Russian as an official language in some provinces as an example of the problem. Separately, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said that an official delegation from Prague is preparing to leave for talks with the long term Czech population resident in Ukraine. Around 40 families in the Volyn region have asked for help to be repatriated to the Czech Republic.

Czech Basketball Federation offers Ukraine help for European championships

The Czech Basketball Federation has offered Ukraine help in staging the men’s European championships in 2015, which are threatened by the current instability in the country. The Czech federation has dispatched a letter offering to host one of the opening group games if need be. Federation chairman Miroslav Jansta said on Friday that he was still convinced that Ukraine could overcome its problems and host the event. Europe’s basketball federation, FIBA, will decide over the weekend whether to confirm Ukraine as hosts for next year’s championships.

ČEZ bosses face charges over settlement with minority shareholders

The Ministry of Finance’s special financial analytical team has prepared criminal charges against the two top figures in state controlled electricity producer ČEZ. Cases have been prepared against general manager Daniel Beneš and his deputy, Martin Novák, the ministry confirmed. The cases relate to the buyout of minority shareholders in the North Moravian regional electricity distribution company. The suspicion is that around 350 million crowns of ČEZ funds was misused in the out of court settlement with the small shareholders, some of whom were represented by the company Associated Energy. ČEZ says the settlement was approved by the board and the deal probably saved it around 700 million crowns.

Police arrest Czech-Iranian businessman with colourful past

Czech police have arrested an influential Iranian born businessman on suspicion of massive tax evasion, the news server of paper Lidové Noviny reported on Friday. Shahram Abdullah Zadeh was arrested in the presidential suite of the Hilton Hotel, Prague, where he had a long term rental agreement. They found documents relating to massive business details and substantial amounts of ready cash, the web server said. According, to some Gulf newspaper reports Zadeh fled Dubai when his links in major oil deals with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were uncovered. Zadeh, who reportedly has Iranian and Czech citizenship after marrying a Czech woman, had been contesting the appropriation of a Dubai-based real estate company, in which his partner was a relative of Dubai’s emir, before his flight.

Police detain lobbyist Ivo Rittig

Police on Friday detained notorious political wheeler and dealer Ivo Rittig. The move followed proceedings initiated by Supreme State Attorney Lenka Bradáčová that lobbyist Rittig and four others be detained in custody because of the risk that they would leave the country. A Prague court decided on Thursday to give passports back to the five accused. Rittig faces charges of money laundering in a case centred on dubious payments by Prague city’s transport company for printing tickets to a firm registered in the Virgin Islands, a notorious and secretive tax haven. A court later refused the application for the five to be detained in custody.

Czech armed forces to take part in Polish exercises: radio

Czech armed forces are expected to take part in manoeuvers in Poland with other NATO armed forces from Central Europe, the Baltic States, and the United States, Polish radio said Friday citing a spokesman from the US embassy in Warsaw. Czech general staff said they were not aware of such an exercise being prepared. NATO aircraft have previously been dispatched to Poland and areas bordering Ukraine as a result of the Russian intervention in Crimea. Russian armed forced took part in exercises near the Polish and Ukraine frontier prior to the use of armed forced to take a grip on the previously autonomous region of |Ukraine.

Viktoria Plzeň bows out of Europa league in spite of fight back

In football, Viktoria Plzeň’s Europa League adventure has ended in spite of a 2:1 home win against Olympic Lyon on Thursday night. On aggregate, the Czech team lost 3:5 and failed again to get through for the first time to the last eight of the competition. Plzeň conceded a goal in the last seconds of the first half but came out fighting in the second with two goals scored and missed penalty by Stanislav Tecl.

Tomáš Rosický doubtful for Arsenal clash with Chelsea

Czech captain and Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický is doubtful for Saturday’s premier league derby confrontation with Chelsea. Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger warned in a pre-match press conference that Rosický is injured and could be out for the game. Rosický last week scored the only goal in the Gunners 1:0 victory over north London rival Tottenham. Chelsea’s Petr Čech is expected to be in goal for |Chelsea.