News

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PM Topolánek: government on verge of collapse

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told the daily Mlada fronta Dnes on Saturday that his coalition government was on the verge of collapse. Mr Topolánek said that if the current coalition, consisting of the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens, does not undergo “a catharsis” over the summer, the government might fall.

Several MPs in each of the coalition parties have repeatedly voted against drafts prepared by the government. While rebels within the right-wing Civic Democrats object to way the restitution of church property was calculated, some Christian Democrats and Greens oppose the government’s health care reform as well as the planned Czech-American treaty on siting a U.S. tracking radar base on Czech territory.

Soldiers may not refuse going on foreign missions

Czech soldiers may not refuse serving in the army’s foreign missions, a spokesperson for the General Staff of the Army said on Saturday. Any such refusal would be considered a breach of their basic duties and might result in dismissals of the reluctant army officers. Several media outlets in the Czech Republic recently reported that Czech helicopter pilots were leaving the armed forces to avoid serving on missions in Afghanistan. An anonymous pilot told TV Nova on Thursday that he never thought he would be sent to what he described as “a regular war.” The Czech Army is currently taking part in international peace-keeping and reconstruction missions in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Czech Rep. beats Switzerland 1:0 in Euro 2008 opener

The Czech national football team beat the host Switzerland 1:0 in the opening match of Euro 2008 in Basel on Saturday. The Swiss were better throughout much of the game but were unable to convert any of several opportunities, mainly due to the Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech who showed some spectacular saves. The decisive moment came in the 70th minute when Václav Svěrkoš, who had replaced another striker Jan Koler shortly before, scored the only goal of the game. In their next appearance at Euro 2008, the Czech Republic will face Portugal on Wednesday.

Prague mayor wants to change controversial grant system

Prague Mayor Pavel Bém said he would like to change the controversial theatre subsidy system in the Czech capital. Earlier this year, Prague City Hall came up with a new system of financing Prague’s theatres and other art scenes which tied subsidies to ticket sales. The system has been criticized for not distinguishing between genuine art and commercial projects catering to tourists. Last month, many of Prague's theatres staged a week of protests against the programme and were also backed by playwright and former Czech President Václav Havel.

Hundreds protest uranium mining

Some 300 activists protested against uranium mining near Liberec, northern Bohemia, on Saturday, despite a recent denial by the Environment Ministry to conduct preliminary tests in the area. Local inhabitants, mayors of nearby communities as well as environmental activists oppose any possible plans to launch uranium mining in northern Bohemia, a region with an estimated 20,000 tons of uranium ore.

Czechs mark Tax Freedom Day

Saturday marks the Tax Freedom Day in the Czech Republic, three days earlier than last year, the Liberal Institute think-tank reported. Tax Freedom Day is the day on which Czech taxpayers stop working for the government and start earning money for themselves. This year, the government collects more than 43 percent of individual and corporate incomes.

Boy killed in bus crash

An 11-year-old boy was killed early Saturday morning in an accident of a Czech bus in Austria, while another three adults suffered serious injuries. The accident happened near Graz, southern Austria, when a bus of Czech schoolchildren travelling to Croatia got on the side of the road and flipped over. The driver said he was trying to avoid another vehicle in front of the bus which suddenly started braking.

Poll: nine of ten Czechs use cell phones

Nine out of ten Czechs over 15 years of age use cell phones, according to a poll carried out by the Factum Invenio agency. The most popular cell phone makes with Czechs are Nokia, with almost a 50 per cent share of the marker, followed by Sony Ericsson and Siemens. At the end of the first quarter of 2008, Czechs had 13.1 million cell phones, which is 126 phones per 100 people.

Černá Hora is the beer of the year

The Moravian brewery Černá Hora won the title Beer of the Year for two of their light lagers at a beer competition in České Budějovice on Saturday. Černá Hora, one of 44 Czech and foreign breweries taking part in the competition, is the largest of the Czech Republic’s small breweries with about one percent of the market share. Last year, the brewery produced 160,000 hectolitres of beer.

Argentinean Calleri wins tennis Czech Open

Argentinean tennis player Augustín Calleri, seeded fourth, won the 15th Unicredit Czech Open in Prostějov on Saturday after beating fellow Argentinean Martin Vassallo Arguello 6:0, 6:3. Czech players Tpomáš Berdych and Bohand Ulihrach were knocked out in the quarterfinals.

Weather

The sky over the Czech Republic should be overcast with occasional rain and storms. Highest day temperatures will range between 21 and 25 degrees centigrade.