News

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Derailed Pendolino moved to depot for repairs, investigation underway

A train which derailed on the outskirts of Prague on Saturday has been moved to a depot for repairs, even as officials continue their investigation. Damages to the vehicle have been estimated at around 25 million crowns. The spokesman for Czech Railways confirmed on Saturday that track at the site of the accident had been pre-cut, indicating an act of sabotage. But the Railways Inspection has so far confirmed only that the track was damaged. Nobody was hurt when the train, a Pendolino, derailed shortly before 12 pm on Saturday; the train driver noticed something wrong and pulled the emergency brake, slowing the vehicle before it went off the rails. Police have so far filed charges against an unknown assailant for endangering the public.

Former govt party to be dissolved

The extra-parliamentary party the Civic Democratic Alliance, influential in government in the years 1992-1998, will be dissolved as of December 31st - a move decided at the party’s national conference. The news was announced by party leader Jirina Novakova on Sunday. The Civic Democratic Alliance, a right-of-centre party established after the fall of communism, was part of coalition governments led by former-prime minister Vaclav Klaus, as well as part of a caretaker government led by Josef Tosovsky. Since elections in 1998, the party’s fortunes have been in decline.

A number of significant political figures left the party in the past years, among them current Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova and Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil.

Union leader Dobsik and Liska, Bursik, meet ahead of planned strike

Union leader Frantisek Dobsik has indicated that the teachers’ unions will wait and see how the candidate for the post of education minister, Ondrej Liska of the Green Party, will react to a planned teachers’ strike on Tuesday before weighing additional options. The union leader said as much during a televised debate programme on Sunday. Mr Dobsik admitted that he saw matters differently after meeting with Mr Liska and the head of the Green Party - and acting Education Minister - Martin Bursik on Saturday. In their meeting Mr Bursik said that reserve funds in the education sector would be sought and expressed the view that the new minister would be able to secure additional EU finances. Tuesday’s protest by the teachers’ unions is aiming to draw attention to continuing problems in the education sector.

Study suggests shoplifting remains high in Czech Republic

A study by the British Centre for Retail Research has suggested that the Czech Republic ranks poorly among European countries when it comes to shoplifting. According to the organisation’s report, 8.7 billion crowns (or 490 million US dollars) worth of goods were lost or stolen from Czech stores in 2007. That represents a 0.7 percent drop from the previous year. Out of 22 or so countries examined in the survey, the Czech Republic ranks 18th, just below Great Britain, ahead only of Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the Baltic states. Similarly a study by KPMG has suggested that 43 percent of lost inventory in the Czech Republic is stolen by shoplifters, while employee theft accounts for losses of 15 percent. Another 15 percent loss is sustained in the poor handling of goods.

Painting by Styrsky fetches 10.25 million crowns

A painting by Czech surrealist painter Jindrich Styrsky, Krajina v Oblacich (Landscape in the Clouds) dating from 1925, has been sold in auction for 10.25 million crowns. The price is the highest fetched by a Styrsky work in the Czech Republic. The auction took place at Prague’s Zofin on Sunday, with bidding starting at 7 million crowns. Specialists consider the painting to be among Styrsky’s finest work. Krajina v Oblacich has been exhibited many times in the past, including a show in 1926 in Paris with the artist Toyen.

Czech Republic in Group A for Euro 2008

The Czech Republic will face Switzerland in the opening game of next year’s European football championship, Euro 2008. A final draw for the final four groups in the tournament was held at Lucerne on Sunday. Along with Switzerland, the Czech Republic will face Turkey and Portugal in Group A. The opening match of Euro 2008 will take place on June 7th at St Jakob Park stadium in Basel.

Bauer wins World Cup classic style 15K race in Finland

Cross-country skier Lukas Bauer has won the World Cup classic style 15-kilometres at Kussamo, Finland. In the race he beat Eldar Ronning of Norway by 20.4 seconds, with an overall time of 37 minutes, 15.8 seconds. Axel Teichmann of Germany was third. Bauer, who took silver in the Turin Olympics in 2006 in the 15K classic, now has four career World Cup titles.

NHL ice hockey: Bonk, Erat score in shootout to see Preds edge Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens squandered a 3-goal lead in NHL ice hockey action on Saturday, ultimately losing their game against the Nashville Predators 5:4 in a penalty shootout. The Predator’s comeback was clinched by Czech forward and former Hab Radek Bonk in the 3rd period: he scored with just 46.8 seconds remaining to take the game to extra time. Bonk scored again in penalties, as did Martin Erat, winning the match for Nashville.

Weather

The start of the week should see cloudy periods with a chance of rain in places. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach highs between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.