News

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Svejnar to make announcement on candidature next week

Jan Svejnar is set to announce next week whether he will stand for president in elections in February. Speaking after a meeting with senators from the Christian Democrats on Tuesday, he said he would make a decision on the basis of the outcome of talks conducted by the leaderships of various parties. The Social Democrats and the Greens have already expressed support for Mr Svejnar, while the Communists have not ruled out backing him.

Jan Svejnar was born in Czechoslovakia but has spent most of his life in the USA, where he is a professor of economics.

The two houses of the Czech Parliament will take part in the presidential vote on February 8; the only candidate so far is the incumbent, Vaclav Klaus of the Civic Democrats.

Afghan children transported to Prague for heart operations

Three children from Afghanistan have arrived in the Czech Republic, where they will undergo essential heart surgery. The youngest of the children is one and a half; the others are aged six and eight. The three arrived in Prague on a Czech Army plane carrying field hospital staff and chemical weapons specialists home from Kabul. The children, who are accompanied by family members, are expected to remain in the Czech Republic for one to three months. Over 110 children from crisis zones have received treatment in the Czech Republic since 1993.

Fast food stalls to be removed from Wenceslas Square

Fast food stalls selling grilled sausages and other foods are set to disappear from Prague’s Wenceslas Square in the next few years, Lidove noviny reported. The city’s authorities have decided to remove the stalls because they attract homeless people who root in nearby bins for discarded food. Two stands at the very bottom of the square will be first to disappear, in the middle of next year; they should all be gone by 2010, by which time the whole of Wenceslas Square should have been remodelled.

Prague police facing 10-percent shortfall in officer numbers

The Prague police will be 770 members short by the end of this year, the director of the city’s force Petr Zelasko said on Tuesday. That figure represents a short-fall of around ten percent. Mr Zelasko said police management would endeavour to ensure that citizens would not be affected by the fact so many places are unfilled, but he admitted it would be apparent. At the national level 5,000 police jobs will be empty. Many officers left the force following the introduction of a new law on police service.

Government annuls contract for armoured personnel carriers

The Czech government has decided to annul a contract with the Austrian company Steyr for the supply of armoured personnel carriers to the Czech Army, the Czech defence minister, Vlasta Parkanova, announced on Tuesday. She said the company had failed to honour its commitments. Czech Defence Ministry officials have said they do not expect Steyr to take an arbitration case against the Czech state. It had been due to supply the Czech military with almost 200 personnel carriers under a contract worth over CZK 20 billion.

Cedok bought by US company

The biggest Czech travel agent Cedok has been bought by the US company Odien. It has acquired a 98-percent stake in the firm from the Czech-owned Uminex Group, which has controlled Cedok since 1995. A spokesperson for Odien said the company expected tourism to see dynamic growth in central and eastern Europe, and that it would use Cedok as a base for its further expansion in the region.

Havel exhibition opens in Prague

An exhibition entitled Vaclav Havel – Czech Myth has opened at Hilgertova Cihelna on Prague’s Kampa. The temporary exhibition catalogues the life and work of the playwright, former dissident and president. Among the items on display are a model of the interior of Mr Havel’s cottage and replicas of his desk and library from the president’s office at Prague Castle. The exhibition has been organised by the Vaclav Havel Library, which is currently looking for a permanent home in the centre of the city.

Five women on ten-name short-list for Sportsperson of Year

The ten-name short-list for the Czech Sportsperson of the Year award, announced on Tuesday, includes five women: pole vaulter Katerina Badurova, cross country skier Katerina Neumannova, speed skater Martina Sablikova, javelin thrower Barbora Spotakova and down-hill skier Sarka Zahrobska. They will be up against five men: football goalkeeper Petr Cech, decathlete Roman Sebrle, footballer Marek Jankulovski, biathlon star Michal Slesingr and ice hockey great Jaromir Jagr. The winner will be selected in a vote by the club of Czech sports journalists and announced at a ceremony in Prague in the middle of January.

Nedved to return to national team, claims Juve team-mate

Football star Pavel Nedved will return to the Czech national team for next year’s European Championship, says one of his team-mates at the Italian club Juventus; defender Nicole Legrottaglie made the claim in an interview for the website goal.com. However, a spokesperson for the Czech football association said they had no knowledge of any planned comeback by Nedved. The midfielder, who is 35, retired from international football after last year’s World Cup.

Punk’s not dead

The Czech punk band Visaci zamek are celebrating 25 years of existence with a concert in the main hall at Prague’s Lucerna on Tuesday night. The group played their first concert at the student dormitories in Strahov in December 1982; since then they have played over 1,000 shows and released eight albums.

Weather

It should be grey and wet over the next couple of days, with temperatures of up to 5 degrees Celsius.