Putin, in talks with Rice, Gates, again comes out against missile defense

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the US "not to force" deployment of its missile defense system to Poland and the Czech Republic. The Russian president, in talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, indicated he would not support the United States' plan for missile defense in Europe, and threatened to abandon a key nuclear missile treaty which he called "outdated". The Czech Republic is currently in negotiations with the US on the possibility of hosting its radar system, a system to be complemented by interceptor rockets in Poland as a means of preventing attacks by so-called "rogue states". The plan to host the US base has so far received tentative backing from the Czech government.

Billions to be invested in Czech radar base area

In related news some 1.2 billion crowns (62 million US dollars) may be invested in the infrastructure of the Czech Brdy area, the site planned for the US radar base. Ivan Fuksa, deputy finance minister and chairman of the government commission for the development of Brdy made the statement on Thursday. According to Mr Fuksa, the Finance Ministry has allotted 200-250 million crowns towards the project and the rest may be financed from European funds and subsidies of individual ministries. The government commission widened its list of towns and villages that are to be covered by the projects to more than twenty. All are situated within a 10-kilometre radius of the planned site. The project involves the development of infrastructure and transport accessibility of the region around the military zone.

Trebic hospital admits responsibility for baby swap

A hospital in Trebic has admitted responsibility for a baby mix-up that saw two new-born little girls accidentally switched after birth. The babies spent ten months with couples who were not their biological parents; the mistake was only uncovered after one of the couples sought DNA testing. The hospital's director Petr Mayer on Friday revealed that seven hospital employees had made mistakes in the case. He said two nurses would be fired. Two others will be moved to different jobs. Three personnel will receive written reprimands. According to the hospital management the new-borns were correctly labelled after delivery but their mix-up took place within three hours. The parents of the children have agreed to switch their children back before the little girls' birthdays on December 9th.

Hospital ordered to compensate Romany woman for sterilisation

A regional court has ordered Ostrava City Hospital to pay 500,000 crowns (almost 26,000 USD) in compensation to Iveta Cervenakova, a 30-year-old Romany woman, who was involuntarily sterilised by the hospital ten years ago. Her lawyer has pointed out this is the first time a Czech court has ruled in favour of financial compensation for involuntary sterilisation. In the case, the hospital defended its actions by saying it had Mrs Cervenakova's written consent, given after the birth of her second child by caesarean section. But the court found that medical staff did not proceed correctly in her case and there was no documentation in her medical file to prove that she had agreed with the sterilisation procedure.

Former PM sells shares for reported 100 million crowns

According to the Tyden internet server and other news sources, former Czech prime minister Stanislav Gross has sold shares in a Moravian energy company for an undisclosed sum, estimated by the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes at 100 million crowns (more than five million US dollars). The shares in the Moravia Energo company were bought by Slovak financier Pavol Krupa who has estimated their value at seven or eight times that price. Mr Gross reportedly acquired the shares - a 31 percent stake in the company - half a year ago. Earlier, an anti-corruption activist filed a criminal complaint against the former prime minister on the grounds Mr Gross could have abused information while a state representative. The Social Democrats, who Mr Gross headed, have also called for an explanation.

President Klaus "surprised" by choice of Gore for Nobel Prize

President Vaclav Klaus, who has publicly questioned the impact humans have on global warming, has released a statement admitting "surprise" at the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to former US vice-president and environmental activist Al Gore (awarded along with the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). This year's winners were officially announced on Friday. In his statement released by his office the Czech president indicated that the connections between Mr Gore's activities and world peace were "vague" and "not very clear". Mr Klaus, an economist known for sceptical views on global warming, recently published a book called "A Blue, not Green, Planet", which he has described as a counterweight to Al Gore's film on climate change "An Inconvenient Truth".

By contrast, on Friday, Czech environmental groups as well as Environment Minister Martin Bursik - the head of the Green Party -welcomed this year's Nobel Peace Prize decision.

Supreme Court to reopen 57-year-old case of sabotage

The Supreme Court will reopen a 57-year-old case involving 74-year-old Cyril Mihalica, found guilty under the communist regime. He was sentenced to three years in prison for setting fire to an agricultural stack during the period of forced collectivisation in the early 1950s. Mr Mihalica has defended his actions - and sought full exoneration - ever since the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. He has said his was a political act aimed at morally boosting the public against the communist regime. He says his trial which ensued in the 1950s was also politically motivated. At the time of the incident Mr Mihalica was just 17 and was part of a group of fifteen who wanted to use small acts of sabotage against the communist regime. Mr Mihalica was the only one uncovered in the ensuing investigation by the communist police.

Princess Anne to arrive in Czech Republic on Sunday

Preparations are underway for a visit by Princess Anne, due to arrive in the Czech Republic on Sunday. The princess will arrive in Pardubice, east Bohemia aboard, a Royal Air Force aircraft used by the British Royal family. Her schedule will include a visit to the 117th Grand Pardubice steeple chase, where she will present the prize to the winner. The princess, who is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, is also scheduled to meet President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, as well as to visit schools and charity organisations. She will also be a guest of the presidential couple at Prague Castle, where a dinner, attended by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and others, will be held in her honour.

NHL Ice Hockey: Vokoun backstops Florida to first win of the season

After a weaker start, Czech ice hockey goalie Tomas Vokoun helped his team the Florida Panthers to their first victory in the new NHL season. Vokoun stopped all 29 shots by the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, earning the 22nd shutout of his career. Czech Rostislav Olesz scored the game's opening goal, assisted by compatriot Radek Dvorak. The Panthers ended up winning the game 3:0.


Mostly clear skies are expected into the weekend; daytime temperatures are expected to reach highs of around 10 degrees Celsius.