News

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Czechs not ready for euro adoption

The Czech Republic, unlike its Eastern neighbour Slovakia, is not ready to adopt the single European currency in the near future, according to a report issued by the European Commission on Wednesday. The country doesn’t meet the Maastricht criteria on exchange rate and currency stability. The European Commission on Wednesday gave Slovakia the green light for euro adoption, clearing the way for it to become the zones 16th member and the second country from Eastern Europe’s former communist bloc to join.

Lower house passes a bill against money laundering

The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill against money laundering, intended to prevent legalization of revenues from criminal activities and help fight organized crime. The bill, which incorporates the EU directives against money laundering, is yet to be discussed by the Senate and signed by the president. Under the bill, parties involved in a trade deal should be identified in all transactions over 1,000 euros. Current directives require identification documents only for sums about four times higher. The bill also extends the duty of banks and other financial institutions to monitor and check their clients’ deals.

Czech Republic sending more aid to Burma

The foreign ministry has decided to earmark another 2.5 million crowns for the victims of the devastating cyclone in Burma. The Czech government is sending altogether 5 million crowns to the devastated region. People in Need and Charity of the Czech Republic have already set up special accounts for public contributions. The cyclone Nargis has so far claimed more than 22.500 people, while another 41,000 are missing.

Czech deputies ease conditions for marrying foreigners

Foreigners staying in the Czech Republic will face fewer restrictions when marrying a Czech national, under an amendment passed by the lower chamber of Czech parliament on Wednesday. Foreigners facing expulsion or registered as persona non grata will be able to enter into marriage or registered partnership in case they submit a police certificate justifying their stay in the country. The legislation is yet to be discussed by the Senate.

Hooligans to be prosecuted at football stadiums

Czech football hooligans who violate law during a match will be prosecuted directly at stadiums under a new system designed by the interior and justice ministries. Under the plan, judges will be present during matches to issue verdicts right on the spot. The system will be tested on Saturday at a match between Slavia Praha and Baník Ostrava, with a provisional courtroom established at Prague’s Letná stadium.

Communist Party gradually shrinking

The Communist Party which has the largest number of rank and file members among Czech parties is gradually shrinking. Last year 16 people on average left the party each day. At the end of 2007 the Communist Party had some 77, 000 members, in contrast to 1990s, when its rank and file amounted to around 300,000. The party is also gradually ageing; the average age of its members is currently 70 years.

Havel’s wife not to star in Odcházení

The wife of the former Czech president Václav Havel Dagmar Havlová will not star in the premiere of his new play “Leaving” (Odcházení) which is to premiere in Prague’s Archa Theatre on May 22. Mr. Havel originally wrote the leading female role for his wife Dagmar and insisted on her getting the part, but a spokeswoman for the theatre said the former first lady was severely overworked and was forced to cut back on her activities.

“Leaving” has been dogged by problems ever since it was published. It was originally to be staged by the National Theatre but negotiations failed after the theatre refused to cast Dagmar Havlová in the lead role. The project was also turned down by Divadlo Na Vinohradech due to a lack of money. The first foreign premiere of Leaving will take place in London’s Orange Theatre on September 19.

Anifest gets underway in Třeboň

Festival of animated films Anifest gets underway on Wednesday in the south Bohemian town of Třeboň. The 7th Anifest will screen more than 600 films from 59 countries. Among the 499 films in competition will be feature-length and short films, advertisements, music videos as well as student films. The festival will continue until May 13.

New Slavia stadium opens

Slavia’s new football stadium in Prague’s district of Vršovice opens on Wednesday with an exhibition match between Slavia Praha and Oxford University AFC. The construction of the stadium cost 1 billion crowns (approximately 60 million US dollars); it has 21,000 seats and also includes a hotel and a bank.

New water-park opens near Prague

A new water-park, hailed by its operators as the largest one in Central Europe, was opened in Čestlice near Prague on Wednesday. Aquapalace Park includes three water palaces with a total water surface of 2500 square metres. The total cost of the facility, which also includes a four-star hotel, amounts to some 4.6 billion crowns.

Weather

The next few days are expected to be mostly sunny with daytime temperatures reaching highs of around 20 degrees Celsius.