Czech morning news in brief: top headlines for May 17, 2021

EU criticizes Czech inclusion on Russia's "unfriendly" list, Slovakia now 'high-risk' red on Czech travel map, more cold and rain on the way this week. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 17.05.2021 09:51:00 (updated on 17.05.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

EU slams Russia's inclusion of Czech Republic on 'unfriendly' states list

The European Union's policy chief Josep Borrell criticized Russia's decision to deem the United States and the Czech Republic as "unfriendly" states, calling it unjustified in remarks made in Brussels over the weekend. "We call on Russia to review its decision, to avoid a further deterioration of our relationship that is already under strain. The EU will continue to coordinate its position with its partners," he said. Borrell went on to say that the EU expressed full solidarity with the Czech Republic as an EU member state as well as the U.S. He called on Russia to fully respect the Vienna Convention. The new list of unfriendly nations, mandated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and published on Friday, doesn't include any other countries. The move restricts the Czech Republic to employ a maximum of 19 Russian citizens at its Moscow embassy, while the U.S. may not employ any Russians.

Slovakia, France change color in latest Czech Covid-19 travel map

A new travel map is in force from Monday, May 17. Slovakia has returned to the ranks of red high-risk countries after being rated moderate-risk orange for one week, according to the Czech Health Ministry's latest Covid-19 travel map. France and Andorra, meanwhile, will move from dark red very high risk to high-risk red on the latest Czech travel map, valid from Monday. San Marino will move from red to orange, and Iceland from orange to low-risk green. Read more here.

Zeman insists there are more versions of Vrbětice investigation

Czech President Miloš Zeman is still not convinced that there is only one version of the inquiry into the Vrbětice blasts from 2014, he said in an interview Sunday, adding that besides the version about Russian secret agents' involvement, there is also a version about unskilled handling of explosives. In an interview with Frekvence 1 radio, Zeman cited his talks with Justice Minister Marie Benešová who has said the explosions in the Vrbetice ammunition store may have served to cover up financial deficiencies in the depot. In late April, PM Andrej Babiš said he had explained to Zeman that there is only a single version of the investigation. Babiš did so after Zeman mentioned two versions on television. In recent days, Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček repeatedly asserted that there is only a single version of the investigation, which implicates Russian military intelligence GRU agents as those behind the Vrbětice explosions. ČTK 

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Cold and rain predicted for Czech Republic again this week

The weather in the coming week will again be marked by below-average temperatures and frequent precipitation, with a temporary period of heavy winds added to the mix. Temperatures will reach a maximum of 17 degrees this week and climb to 19 degrees Celsius through the weekend. The early part of the week will see clouds and possible rainfall and thunderstorms. Mid-week will continue to be overcast with light precipitation forecast for most of the Czech Republic. Following heavy rainfall heading into the weekend and more rain in the forecast over the upcoming days, the city of Prague took preventative measures to plan for potential flooding in areas of the city that may be at risk. Prague's Náplavka embankments were closed to all traffic until further notice and some ferry services were suspended. Officials say that the riverside areas could reopen again today.

Reconstruction of Prague's Wenceslas Square costlier than anticipated

Reconstruction of the lower part of Wenceslas Square will become more expensive by up to CZK 109 million. Most of the extra money, specifically CZK 85 million, is to go toward tram tracks, which the municipality's management wants to build for future use. Construction work began last year and originally was to cost about CZK 330 million. The construction company claims it needs an additional CZK 23 million due to extra work caused by unforeseen circumstances including the demolition of concrete structures, changes in surface finishes, and other modifications. The municipality is now negotiating with Prague 1 about trams in the lower part of the square. Reconstruction of part of the square from Můstek to the mouth of Vodičkova began last April and, according to the original schedule, is to be completed this year. It is based on a project from the architectural firm Cigler Marani Architects, which was created in 2005. ČTK 

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