News

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Švejnar still in dark over conditions under which he could give up US citizenship

Presidential candidate Jan Švejnar says he is still waiting to hear from the American State Department regarding the conditions under which he could give up his US citizenship. The professor of economics, who has spent much of his life in United States, has joint Czech-American citizenship. The Communist Party have said they will not back him unless he relinquishes the latter. Speaking at a media briefing in Prague, Mr Švejnar said that he would live in the Czech Republic long-term if elected, as would his American wife Kathy.

A meeting on Tuesday between Mr Švejnar and senators from the Civic Democrats lasted less than 10 minutes. The Civic Democrat senators will back their own party’s candidate – the incumbent Václav Klaus – in the February 8 presidential election.

Kasal: two-thirds of Christian Democrats likely to back Klaus for president

Senior Christian Democrat Jan Kasal says he expects that two-thirds of his party’s deputies and senators will vote for Mr Klaus. On Monday the national committee of the Christian Democrats recommended that the party’s legislators give their backing to Mr Klaus rather than Mr Švejnar. The votes of the Christian Democrats and the Communists look like determining who will become the next president of the Czech Republic.

Jewish group says Plzeň authorities made mistake in allowing neo-Nazi march

The League against Anti-Semitism say the authorities in Plzeň were wrong to grant permission for a neo-Nazi demonstration due to take place next Saturday, the anniversary of the first transport of Jews from the west Bohemian city in 1942. League against Anti-Semitism spokeswoman Věra Tydlitátová said a bureaucratic oversight allowed permission for the procession to be given, despite the rejection of another application to march a week later. Jewish leaders have organised a service in front of the city’s Great Synagogue as a counter to the far-right march.

World sales of Škoda cars up 14.5 percent in 2007

The Czech car maker Škoda Auto increased its sales around the world by 14.5 percent last year, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday. Total sales of Škoda cars reached over 630,000 in 2007. The firm’s biggest single market is Germany, while over half of its vehicles are sold in western European states. Škoda, which is owned by Germany’s Volkswagen, sold almost 65,000 cars here in the Czech Republic. Car making has been one of the main motors of the Czech economy in recent years.

Press: Bursík wants plastic bottles to be refundable

The minister of the environment, Martin Bursík, is preparing a new law under which plastic bottles would have to become refundable, in the same way half-litre glass beer bottles are at present, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. If approved, the new legislation would take effect from 2010. However, drinks producers and sellers are strongly opposed to the idea, the newspaper said.

Road deaths up last year, though number of accidents down

There was a rise in the number of road deaths in the Czech Republic last year, according to figures just released by the Czech police. A total of 1,123 people were killed in road accidents, 167 more than in 2006. However, the number of accidents fell last year, the police said. A new points system aimed at curbing accidents was introduced in July 2006; it was initially judged a success, though after some months the fatality rate returned to more or less its previous level.

Social Democrats lead in polls

The opposition Social Democrats have the support of 31 percent of the electorate, suggests a poll conducted at the start of this month by the STEM agency. The second strongest party in the survey were the governing Civic Democrats, with 24.3 percent, followed by the Communists with 13.1 percent.

Teacher charged for allegedly having sex with pupil in school

Police in Kladno have charged a 38-year-old school teacher with endangering the morals of the young after she allegedly had sex with one of her pupils in a staffroom. The school informed the boy’s parents of the matter when it arose last year, but they declined to press charges. The teacher, whose subjects were physical education and aerobics, has since quit the school.

Prague churches opening door for night of ecumenical activities

Churches in Prague are planning a Night of Open Churches on January 21, as part of a week of ecumenical meetings and services. Organisers said they had been inspired by similar events in Austria, where such open nights are held annually in big cities. The whole thing is set to begin with a service at St Kliment’s Greek Catholic Church on Karlova Street near Charles Bridge.

Mixed fortunes for Czech tennis stars in Australian Open

The Czech Republic’s tennis players have been having something of a mixed time of it in the first round of the Australian Open. With Nicole Vaidišová already through on day one, Tomáš Berdych advanced to round two with a win over Austria’s Werner Eschauer on Tuesday. However, his girlfriend Lucie Šafářová went out to Catalina Castano of Columbia, while the former Czech men’s number one Radek Štěpánek has also packed his bags early in Melbourne – he lost to Vincent Spadea of the United States.

Weather

It should be cloudy and wet over the next few days, with a maximum temperature of 7 degrees Celsius.