News

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Proposal for abolishment of law on totalitarian regimes institute put forward

The Czech Constitutional Court has received a proposal to abrogate a law which allowed the recent establishment of the Czech Republic’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. The proposal put forward on Thursday was signed by 57 opposition deputies from the Social Democratic as well as Communist Parties. The recently-founded institute is to study the periods of Nazism and communism in Czech history. From the start its establishment has strongly been opposed by left-of-centre politicians, who have argued it will be a waste of funds and say it could make it possible to politically influence the interpretation of history. It is unclear how soon the Constitutional Court might rule on the proposal.

Last week historian Pavel Zacek was elected the institute's first head; he will formally assume his new post on January 1.

Counter-intelligence: Russian-speaking criminals chose boss for Czech Republic

According to Czech-counter intelligence, the BIS, criminal groups from countries from the former Soviet Union went so far as to “elect” a high-standing organised crime leader for the Czech Republic. The BIS revealed the information in its annual report for 2006. According to the service, the criminal boss allegedly oversees activities of all Russian-speaking criminal groups across the Czech Republic. BIS spokesman Jan Subert has declined to reveal whether the authorities know the figure’s identity. The boss is said to have been elected at a secret meeting in Moscow at which Russian, Ukrainian and Caucasian groups divided territories of operation.

The recent murder of a chauffeur of the head of the Czech Republic’s largest lottery company – a case of mistaken identity - has drawn increased attention to the activity of criminal gangs on Czech territory.

Presidential hopeful Svejnar, with family, arrives in capital

Czech-American economist and presidential hopeful Jan Svejnar arrived in Prague on Friday after spending the Christmas holiday in the United States. He arrived in the capital with his wife and daughter roughly a month before the election, to begin on February 8. The candidate has gotten backing from the Green Party and the opposition Social Democrats, and is thought to have the support of some Christian Democrats and Communists; he is the only other candidate in the race against incumbent Vaclav Klaus. A recent poll conducted by the STEM agency suggested some 34 percent of Czechs feel that Mr Svejnar would do a better job as president, while an equal number says the same for Mr Klaus. A remaining 32 percent of respondents made clear they had no preference.

Transport Ministry signs amendment on toll system contract

Representatives from the Transport Ministry and the Austrian company Kapsch have signed an amendment to an existing contract, along which Kapsch will build toll systems on planned Czech motorways, whose construction is to begin at the latest by 2017. The news was revealed by a ministry spokesman on Thursday. Currently, tolls are collected on nearly 1,000 kilometres of motorway in the Czech Republic, affecting transport trucks weighing 12 tonnes or more.

Cross country skiing: Bauer wins opening race at Nove Mesto na Morave

Czech cross country skier Lukas Bauer has won the opening race of the Tour de Ski in Nove Meste na Morave, in its second edition after it’s inauguration year. The tour includes eight races, and the overall time winner gets 400 World Cup points. Bauer won the opening 4.5-kilometre classical style race in a time of 11 minutes 15.6 seconds, beating Germany's Axel Teichmann by a second. Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeset finished third place with 11:18.9.

Loprais’ nephew to compete in Dakar Rally

Ales Loprais, the nephew of famous Czech truck racer Karel Loprais, will compete for the second time as a driver in the truck category at the Dakar Rally. The younger driver, who is in his late 20s, came in third in his first appearance last year. His uncle won the famous race twice: in its tenth and twentieth editions. The thirtieth edition kicks off on January 5.

Football: Fenin Frankfurt-bound

Football striker Martin Fenin, who plays for Teplice and has also performed for the Czech national squad, has agreed on a transfer to the German Bundesliga, where he will play for Frankfurt. Teplice will earn about 4 million euros, the equivalent of almost 6 million US dollars, in the deal. Fenin is a silver medallist from the Under-20 Football World Cup, where the Czechs lost in the final in Toronto against Argentina.

World U-20 Ice Hockey Championship: Czechs beat Danes 5:2

A day after falling to Canada 3:0 in their opener at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship in Pardubice, the Czechs rebounded with a win over Denmark. The Czech team’s captain, Micahel Frolik, put the Czechs ahead early in the first period by scoring a natural hat trick. The Czechs added two more in the second, before the Danes pulled back with two goals. On Saturday the Czechs will face Slovakia.

Weather

The weekend is expected to be mostly overcast with daytime temperatures hovering between 0 and -4 degrees Celsius.