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The Czech Republic is planning to change its name to “Czechia” to make it easier for companies and sports teams to use it on products and clothing.
The European country will retain its full name but Czechia will become the official short geographic name, as “France” is to “The French Republic”.
If approved by parliament, the country’s new name will be lodged with the United Nations.
Along with Slovakia, the Czech Republic was established when Czechoslovakia broke in two in 1993.
Some of the Czech Republic’s best-known exports, including its Pilsner Urquell beer and ice hockey team, currently use the word “Czech”.
However, “Czech” is an adjective and cannot properly be used as a name for the country.
Some have criticized “Czechia” as ugly, or too similar to “Chechnya”, the semi-autonomous Russian republic.
The Czech Republic is accused of “systematic” rights violations in their treatment of refugees and migrants.
According to the UN’s human rights chief, Czech authorities were holding refugees in “degrading” conditions for up to 90 days.
Zeid Raad Al Hussein said refugees had been strip-searched to find money to pay for their detention, and protested about “Islamophobic” statements by Czech President Milos Zeman.
Milos Zeman’s spokesman said the president “stood by his opinions”.
While other European countries had implemented policies to restrict the movement of refugees, the Czech Republic was “unique” in its routine detention of migrants for long periods, Zeid Raad Al Hussein said in a statement.
He said the measures taken appeared to be “designed to deter migrants and refugees from entering the country or staying there”.
Zeid Raad Al Hussein said one detention facility in Beza-Jezova has been described as “worse than a prison” by the Czech justice minister.
The UN rights chief added that he was alarmed by the “xenophobic public discourse” accompanying Czech government policy.
Milos Zeman frequently courts controversy with Islamophobic remarks.
While visiting a butcher shop on a recent visit to southeast Moravia, Milos Zeman told reporters that Muslim refugees would not respect Czech laws and customs.
Milos Zeman said that on the contrary, they would stone women to death for adultery and cut thieves’ hands off.
The president’s spokesman said the UN’s criticism of Milos Zeman was part of an intensifying campaign against the Czech Republic over its stand on the refugee crisis.
The US ambassador to Czech Republic, Andrew Schapiro, has been barred from Prague Castle, President Milos Zeman says.
Prague Castle is the president’s official residence and office.
The apparent snub follows remarks by Andrew Schapiro seen as critical of Milos Zeman’s decision to attend forthcoming World War Two commemorations in Moscow.
Several world leaders are boycotting the ceremony over Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict.
Milos Zeman is considered more sympathetic to Russia on the issue.
Andrew Schapiro had “overstepped the mark” by criticizing the decision to attend celebrations in May marking the anniversary of the end of WW2, news portal Parlamentni Listy quotes President Milos Zeman as saying.
Because of this “the doors of the castle were closed” to Andrew Schapiro, Milos Zeman continues.
“I cannot imagine that the Czech ambassador in Washington would advise the US president where he should travel. And I will not allow any ambassador to have a say in my foreign travel plans.”
Milos Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek later sought to downplay the president’s comments, saying that Andrew Schapiro could still take part in social events at the Castle.
Andrew Schapiro is quoted by Czech media as having said in March that it would “be awkward” if Milos Zeman was the only statesman from an EU country on the platform on Red Square.
The US embassy has declined to address Milos Zeman’s comments.
Milos Zeman is known for his outspoken views on a range of issues, often at variance with those of the Social Democrat-led government, correspondents say.
The presidency is largely ceremonial in Czech Republic, but Milos Zeman became the first man directly elected to the post when he took office in 2013.
Deadly flood waters continue to rise across central Europe and thousands of people have alredy fled their homes in the region.
Emergency operations are under way in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic to cope with river levels which have reached record heights in some places.
Landslides and flooding have led to the deaths of at least seven people. More than eight others are missing.
The German army has been drafted in to help reinforce flood defenses in the south and east of the country.
In the Czech Republic, a nationwide state of emergency is in force. Around 3,000 people have been forced to leave their homes across the west of the country.
The authorities in the capital, Prague, are on high alert amid fears that the River Vltava could swamp its historic centre. On Monday morning, the river was flowing at 2,800 cubic metres per second – 10 times its normal volume.
Thousands of people flee their homes as central Europe flood waters rise
As a precaution the city’s metro system has been closed, metal flood defenses are being erected and sandbags built up along the banks of the Vltava.
No major evacuations are planned in Prague, but tigers at the city’s zoo have been tranquilized and moved out of an enclosure thought to be at risk of flooding.
“The story is not yet over here,” warned Environment Minister Tomas Chalupa.
Although the Vltava was expected to rise again on Tuesday morning, officials said it was unlikely to reach the levels seen in 2002, the last time Europe saw similar floods.
Seventeen people were killed in the Czech Republic and the cost of the damage across the continent was estimated at 20 billion euros ($26 billion).
The destruction so far seen in the capital has been relatively minor compared to elsewhere. In southern and western areas of the country, several towns and villages are under water.
Main roads in many areas of central Europe have been closed and rail services cut. Thousands of homes are without power.
Czech police said on Monday that at least five people were now known to have died due to the flooding. Two people died after their cottage collapsed on Sunday, and three people had died in separate incidents across Bohemia. Several people are missing.
Alexandra Kinova has given birth to quintuplets in the Czech Republic, officials say, a first for the country.
Alexandra Kinova, 23, had four boys and a girl by caesarean section on Sunday, they say.
The births took place “without any complications”, according to doctors at Prague’s Institute for the Care of Mother and Child.
The mother and babies were placed in an intensive care unit but are believed to be in a good condition.
Alexandra Kinova has given birth to quintuplets in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic’s first quintuplets, who were conceived naturally without IVF, have a 95% chance of growing up healthy, the Associated Press quoted Zbynek Stranak, chief doctor at the neonatal section of the institute, as saying.
The boys’ names are reportedly Deniel, Michael, Alex and Martin, while the girl is called Terezka.
Alexandra Kinova, who is from the town of Milovice, about 12 miles north-east of the capital, Prague, already had one son.
She originally believed she was pregnant with twins, but in March doctors upped it to four – and then five in April.
The father of the quintuplets was present at the delivery despite his train being delayed, according to the newspaper Ceske Noviny.
“I was crying all the way since I feared I would not manage it,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Milos Zeman is set to face Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in a run-off in the Czech Republic’s presidential election.
With almost all the votes counted in the first round of voting, Milos Zeman has emerged as the front runner, with Karel Schwarzenberg in second place.
The two candidates will now contest a run-off in two-weeks time, as no candidate won 50% of the votes.
Another former Prime Minister, Jan Fisher, was beaten into third place.
He had previously led the polls but failed to shine in a pre-election televised debate among candidates.
Vladimir Franz, a drama professor, painter and composer who is covered in blue tattoos, came fifth.
Former Prime Minister Milos Zeman is set to face Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in a run-off in the Czech Republic’s presidential election
The result means the election to succeed President Vaclav Klaus, who led the country for ten years, now centres around two very different men.
Milos Zeman is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking politician, known for his witty put-downs of his political opponents.
Karel Schwarzenberg is a titled prince, 75 years of age but wildly popularly amongst young, urban voters – and closely linked to the country’s first president, the late Vaclav Havel.
Playwright and dissident Vaclav Havel was the leader of the Velvet Revolution that brought down Communist rule in 1989.
Vaclav Klaus, a charismatic but divisive figure, is barred by the constitution from seeking a third term in office.
Correspondents say his departure is likely to be welcomed in many European capitals, which were often exasperated by his blunt suspicion of European integration.
However, many in the Czech Republic gave him credit for his economic policies when in government in the 1990s, and for his decision to keep out of the euro.
The vote is the first time the president is being directly elected by the public.
The new president will represent the Czech Republic abroad and appoint candidates to the constitutional court and the central bank, but does not carry much day-to-day power.
Randy Blythe, singer with metal band Lamb of God has been arrested in Prague over the death of a fan at a gig in the Czech Republic two years ago.
It is understood that Randy Blythe, 44, was detained at Prague airport on Wednesday, forcing the band to cancel a live appearance the following night.
The 19-year-old fan died 14 days after allegedly being pushed from the stage by Randy Blythe at a gig in 2010.
It has been reported that the singer has now been released from custody.
Writing on the band’s Twitter account, Randy Blythe’s bandmate, guitarist Mark Morton said: “Finally HOME! 4/5 of us anyway… Thanx for all the support yall!”
Randy Blythe has been arrested in Prague over the death of a fan at a gig in the Czech Republic two years ago
Lamb of God’s record label are understood to be releasing a statement on Monday.
Randy Blythe’s arrest stems back to the death of a fan who attempted to climb on stage during a concert at Prague’s club Abaton on 24 May 2010.
According to reports, the fan had repeatedly tried to climb onto the stage before allegedly being pushed by Randy Blythe and hitting the concrete floor.
He died 14 days later of his injuries, said Czech TV station TV Nova.
A post-mortem examination reportedly found that he had not been drunk or under the influence of drugs.
Lamb of God formed in Virginia in 1990 and, in 2007, received a Grammy nomination for their album Sacrament.
UEFA gives a suspended six-point deduction to Russia because of the behaviour of their fans during their 4-1 win against Czech Republic at Euro 2012.
Action was taken due to the use of fireworks and far-right banners.
The incident, in which Russian fans attacked stewards, leaving four needing hospital treatment, is being investigated by UEFA and police.
The penalty will apply to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, and also includes a fine of 120,000 Euros ($147,000).
Russia, who will host the 2018 World Cup, could face further sanctions after their supporters were involved in violence before their game against Poland, which was drawn 1-1, on Tuesday.
UEFA gives a suspended six-point deduction to Russia because of the behaviour of their fans during their 4-1 win against Czech Republic at Euro 2012
A march by thousands of Russian fans to mark their national day had to be halted and some missiles were thrown as supporters clashed with their Polish rivals.
Police say they arrested at least 120 people and that 10 people were injured.
Inside the ground, Russian fans also displayed a provocative banner.