News

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Czech PM ends visit to Vietnam, calls regime ‘harsh’

The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek was in Vietnam on Sunday, where he met the general secretary of the country’s Communist party, Nong Duc Manh. This brought the Czech prime minister’s three-day visit to Ho Chi Minh City to an end. After his meeting with the head of the Communist party, Mr Topolánek said that it was visible that the regime in Vietnam was a ‘harsh’ one, and that at times he felt ill at ease in the country. Mr Topolánek was in Vietnam to discuss trade links with and future investment in the country, as well as the increasing number of Vietnamese nationals applying for residency permits in the Czech Republic. After Slovaks and Ukrainians, Vietnamese nationals constitute the third largest minority in the Czech Republic, there are more than 45,000 registered Vietnamese living on Czech soil.

Outlawed Union of Communist Youth files complaint against Interior Ministry

The Union of Communist Youth has filed a lawsuit against the Interior Ministry, it was announced on Sunday. The Communist youth organization was banned in October 2006 because of calls in its manifesto for the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system and the nationalization of all property. The Interior Ministry argued that such demands contravened the Czech Republic’s charter of fundamental rights and freedoms, and successfully had the organization outlawed. On Wednesday, this ruling was upheld by a Prague court. But on Sunday, the head of the outlawed organization, Milan Krajča, said that this ruling set a dangerous precedent which put other ‘legitimate’ left-wing organizations at risk, and told journalists that the Union of Communist Youth had filed a formal legal complaint against the ban.

Opposition calls for pensioners to receive lump sum, government dismisses idea as populist

The opposition Social Democrats are calling for pensioners to be given each a one-off lump sum of 6,000 CZK (around 360 USD), to offset the impact of this year’s public finance reforms upon their pensions. The idea has been dismissed by the Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Nečas, however, as pure populism. The government is considering raising pensions by 465 crowns (28 USD) a month from August onwards.

As a knock-on effect of the government’s public reform package, prices rose by 7.5 percent on average in the Czech Republic at the beginning of 2008, this rise is the highest recorded at any time over the last ten years. The current average pension in the Czech Republic is 9111 CZK (550 USD) a month.

Czech mountain rescue teams find missing snowboarder dead after avalanche

Czech mountain rescue teams were in action on Sunday helping their Polish counterparts search for a missing snowboarder, who was later found dead. The snowboarder had vanished after an avalanche struck the Czech-Polish border on Saturday afternoon. The avalanche happened on the Polish side of the Krkonoše mountains at around two o’clock on Saturday. Search parties sent out to look for the missing snowboarder had to be recalled due to bad weather on Saturday evening, but resumed early on Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon the snowboarder’s body was found. Around 50 Czechs were involved in the rescue effort, a spokesperson for the Czech mountain rescue said.

Cejle rejects nuclear waste dump in local vote

Inhabitants of the town of Cejle have voted overwhelming against the situation of a nuclear waste dump near their municipality. On Sunday, town mayor Dana Polačková told journalists that 200 of the town’s 347 eligible voters had voted against the plans to house such a facility nearby, while 38 had voted in favour. Two other South Moravian towns have also recently voted against housing the waste facility. The nuclear waste has up until now been stored in the nuclear power plants in which it was created, but a waste repository has to be selected by 2025, says the government.

Brno seeks to double sheltered accommodation for victims of domestic abuse

The Czech Republic’ second city, Brno, plans to double the amount of sheltered accommodation it currently offers victims of domestic abuse. At the moment, the municipality owns one property, which it uses to house victims of such abuse. On Sunday, however, deputy mayor Oliver Pospíšil told press that this lodging was now full to capacity, and that the town council was looking into acquiring a second such property. Mr Pospíšil did not reveal any further details about the accommodation that the council hopes to acquire, he told journalists that the address of the dwelling would remain secret for its occupants’ protection. Last year, 1,100 cases of domestic violence were recorded in Brno.

Two dead following ambulance crash

Two people died on Sunday when an ambulance collided with a car in Opava, Northern Moravia. One of the casualties was a passer-by, who was struck by the ambulance as it ricocheted away from the car. The second casualty was the woman being transported to hospital in the back of the ambulance in question. The drivers of the ambulance were both seriously injured, though their condition was not thought to be life-threatening, while those traveling in the car involved sustained minor injuries.

Meteorologists warn of snowdrifts, bad driving conditions, in Moravia

Meteorologists have warned of the risk of snowdrifts in some parts of the country on Sunday evening. The areas set to be most affected by the snow are Central and Northern Moravia. As much as 30 centimeters of snow are forecast for Sunday evening, with more to follow on Monday. Meteorologists have warned motorists to drive with extreme caution in the affected areas, and to not even consider traveling without winter tyres fitted to their vehicles.

Swimmers celebrate Easter Sunday with dip in Vltava River

A handful of the country’s hardiest individuals celebrated Easter Sunday with a dip in the Vltava River. Members of the Czech Polar Bear Club took the plunge at Prague’s artificial beach in the Smichov district of the city, several swimmers crossed over to the other bank of the Vltava before getting out. One of those taking part in the event was Richard Blatný, the famous Czech long-distance swimmer, who swam across the English Channel in 1998. The Vltava was colder than usual for this time of year on Sunday, the water temperature recorded was between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius.

Record-breaking Easter egg painted in Červený Hrádek chateau

Children in Northern Bohemia have set a new world record this Easter Sunday for painting the largest Easter egg ever. The egg was made out of papier mache and came in at over two meters in height. A representative of the Guinness book of records was on site at Červený Hrádek chateau to confirm that the egg painted by the castle’s younger visitors had made it into the Czech version of the book. It took a group of children the whole afternoon to paint the massive decorative egg.

Weather

The weather is set to be pretty grey over the next couple of days, with sporadic snow showers. Temperatures are set to dip further into the beginning of next week, with Prague expecting temperatures of in between 0 and 5 degrees Celsius.