Cross-country skier Neumannova takes first gold in final Olympics race of career...

Cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova has taken the Czech Republic's first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Turin. She won the women's 30 km freestyle on Friday with an incredible surge just before the finish line, finally taking the Olympic gold medal that had eluded her so many times in the past. As Neumannova crossed the line she raised her arms aloft and screamed with joy before hugging her two-year-old daughter, who had been allowed onto the snow to greet her mother. Neumannova, taking part in her final Olympics also has a silver medal from Turin, in the 15 km pursuit.

...though Czech ice hockey team are knocked out in semi-finals

But it wasn't all good news for the Czech Republic on Friday: the country's ice hockey team were beaten 7:3 by Sweden in the semi-finals; that result ended dreams of a repeat of the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, when a gold medal for the Czechs led to euphoria around the country.

Doctors hold large protest against Health Minister Rath

Around 5,000 doctors and other health professionals protested against the policies of Health Minister David Rath on Prague's Old Town Square on Friday. They called for the sacking of Mr Rath, saying changes he wants to introduce would harm patients and return the Czech health care system to pre-1989 standards. The doctors say they fear the privatisation of their practices; they chose this date for their protest because it is the eve of the anniversary of the 1948 Communist takeover known as "victorious February".

Number of women in parliament likely to decrease, says pressure group

A pressure group called Forum 50% says it expects there will be fewer women in the next Czech parliament. Women currently hold 17 percent of seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies: based on candidate lists Forum 50% says that figure could drop to 14 percent after elections in June. They point out that countries such as Afghanistan and Vietnam have a higher percentage of women in parliament.

PM ordered issuing of arrest warrant, says daily

A senior figure in the Czech secret services allegedly urged a Prague court to issue a warrant for the arrest of a controversial businessman at the request of the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Friday. The paper says it has a copy of a letter from Vladislav Novak to the court in which he says the prime minister requested that a warrant be issued for Tomas Pitr, who is facing a jail term for tax fraud. Both Mr Paroubek and the Interior Ministry have denied the allegation.

Prague embassies of Arab countries protest about Czech TV documentary

The Prague embassies of a number of Arab countries have protested about a documentary on the life of Muslims in the Czech Republic shown on state broadcaster Czech Television, Hospodarske noviny reported. The film features material shot on a hidden camera and accompanies testimony by Muslims with footage of terrorist attacks. The Czech Broadcasting Council is assessing whether the documentary was in breach of broadcasting regulations.

Fire fighters tell public bird flu alerts are not their responsibility...

Fire fighters in south Moravia say they have received many calls from people worried dead birds in the region may be infected with bird flu. They say the matter is not their responsibility and have called on concerned citizens to get in touch with the State Veterinary Authority. No cases of bird flu have been detected in the Czech Republic, though the disease has been found in several neighbouring countries.

...and uncover blocked escape routes while inspecting roofs of public buildings

Meanwhile, fire fighters say they uncovered serious problems concerning blocked escape routes while carrying out inspections of snow on the roofs of public buildings. Over 1,700 buildings were checked and a full one third of those did not have adequate fire escape routes, said a spokesperson for the Czech fire officers association.

Brewery to shut after over 100 years in Prague

The Prague brewery Branik is to close its doors next year, after over 100 years in the capital. But owner Staropramen is planning to continue making Branik beer at its own brewery in Smichov.


It should gradually get colder over the next few days, with temperatures down to around -2 degrees Celsius. It will be cloudy with some sunny spells.