News

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Czech Republic denies making contribution to Libyan HIV fund

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied that the Czech Republic is one of the countries that has contributed to an international fund to support hundreds of children who contracted HIV at a hospital in the Libyan city of Benghazi during the 1990s. Earlier on Saturday, the Libyan prime minister publicly thanked the Czech Republic, Qatar and Bulgaria for their contributions to the fund.

The Benghazi International Fund has already given one million US dollars to the families of each infected child under a deal to secure a pardon for six foreign medics who were jailed in Libya for eight years on charges of deliberately contaminating the children. The fund will also finance the medical treatment of the children and a series of improvements to the Libyan healthcare system.

Right-wing extremists demonstrate in Vlasim

Around eight hundred right-wing extremists held a demonstration in the central-Bohemian town of Vlasim on Saturday. The radical "National Corporatism" movement organised a so-called "Race Day" in Vlasim to draw attention to what it says is the criminality of the town's Roma inhabitants. Several civic groups have criticised the decision of the town's authorities to permit the demonstration to be staged. The municipality says it had no choice but to allow the event because the organisers had observed all the proper formalities for holding it. Nevertheless, the demonstration was closely monitored by town police and three neo-Nazis were arrested following a clash with people holding a small counter protest.

Paroubek: Dienstbier not only possible presidential candidate

Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has said that former Czech foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier is not the only candidate his party is considering for next year's presidential elections. Mr Paroubek was responding on Saturday to speculation in the media that Mr Dienstbier was the most likely opponent of current incumbent Vaclav Klaus during the presidential election in early 2008.

The Czech president is elected by both houses of parliament. Mr Klaus's Civic Democrats are the strongest party in both houses but he would still need the support of at least 19 MPs to be re-elected. The Social Democrats are currently in negotiations with the Communists, the Greens and the Christian Democrats about fielding a possible joint candidate to stand against Mr Klaus.

Paroubkova reverses decision to leave Social Democrats

Zuzana Paroubkova, the wife of former prime minister and Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has announced that she is going to remain as a member of the Social Democrat Party after all. She had earlier told a tabloid newspaper that she was going to leave the party because she was afraid her political affiliation would affect her charity work for children's homes. Nevertheless, she reversed her decision following talks with her husband. The couple recently announced that they were going to divorce after Mr Paroubek publicly admitted that he was having an affair with his translator Petra Kovacova, who is twenty years younger than him.

Social Democrats to file libel suit and complaint against Altner

Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek told reporters on Saturday that his party plans to file a libel suit against lawyer Zdenek Altner and to also lodge a complaint against him with the Czech Bar Association. Mr Paroubek said the move was in reaction to Mr Altner's claims in the media that the party was trying to destroy him and had blackmailed him.

Mr Altner has been suing the Social Democrats for billions of Czech crowns, which he says is owed to him for representing the Social Democrats in a dispute over the ownership of the party's Prague headquarters in 2000.

Government spokesman admits communication breakdown over US radar base

The government spokesman for communications on missile defence Tomas Klvana has admitted that mistakes were made by the government in communicating with people on the proposed building of a US radar base in the Czech Republic. Speaking at a stormy public debate in the village of Misov in west Bohemia, where the projected base would be situated, Mr Klvana said he would be holding public meetings in several towns in the region to promote constructive debate on the issue.

The US radar base in the Czech Republic is intended to be used as part of a missile defence shield against possible attacks from so-called rogue states like Iran. Opinion polls have shown that as many as two thirds of Czechs are against building the base in this country even though the idea has been supported by most of the parties in the centre-right coalition government.

Two die as shed collapses

Two people were killed and three were severely injured after part of an unused shed collapsed in an industrial estate in the central Bohemian town of Kladno on Saturday morning. It is believed that the victims were unemployed Romanies who were illegally dismantling the shed for scrap iron and steel when part of the building collapsed. The injured people were taken to the local hospital, where a doctor later told journalists that they were out of immediate danger. The town authorities will make a decision about what to do with the shed on Monday.

World Bank study to map Roma unemployment

The Czech minister for human rights and minorities Dzamila Stehliova has announced that a study of Roma unemployment will be launched in the spring of next year. Czech experts and specialists from the World Bank will participate in the study, which is intended to analyse Roma unemployment in the Czech Republic in comparison with other countries that have Roma minorities. It should also come up with strategic measures and recommendations for improving the situation in areas where Roma unemployment is excessively high.

Number of Czech deaths by drowning higher than in other countries

Czech daily Lidove noviny has reported that, in relative terms, more people in the Czech Republic die from drowning than in other countries. Around three hundred people die from drowning in the Czech Republic, which is a higher number per capita than countries like the USA, England and Australia. The paper quotes a water safety official who blames the unusually high number of drowning fatalities on a lack of discipline and irresponsible swimming habits among Czech swimmers. He also says Czech drowning rates are particularly bad for a land-locked country.

Weather

It is expected to be cloudy to overcast with rain in places and sporadic storms. Highest temperatures should range between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius.