News

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Foreign minister: Russia aiming for superpower status

Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said that Russia is seeking to become a global superpower so that it can determine the future of Europe, and could become a threat in five to ten years. In an interview for Friday's Financial Times, Mr Schwarzenberg said that Russia would like to achieve the same status (vis-a-vis America) that the former Soviet Union had, and Washington and Moscow would be the two to decide European issues. He added the Czech Republic considered that to be its affair, too. The Czech Republic has been proposed as the site for the deployment of an American missile defence radar, which Russia alleges would threaten its security. Washington insists the missile shield is directed against Iran.

Police study alleged racist remarks by Senator

Police in Ostrava say they are studying alleged racist statements about Romanies by Senator Liana Janackova, who is also the mayor of an Ostrava district, as well as similar statements by Jiri Jezersky, another senior official in Ostrava. Ms Janackova has been fiercely criticised following the release of a recording on which she appeared to use some controversial statements about Romanies. On the recording she also appears to admit to being a racist and opposing the integration of Romanies. The detectives started investigating the case last week independently of any lawsuits. They say the first lawsuit, lodged by the civic group Romea and joined by eight other organisations and seven individuals, only reached them this week.

Lawyer appeals court's refusal to declare Social Democrat party bankrupt

Lawyer Zdenek Altner who is suing the opposition Social Democrats for almost 20 billion crowns in unpaid fees has appealed against the refusal by the Prague City Court to declare the party bankrupt and start bankruptcy proceedings against it. Mr Altner told journalists on Friday that the court's verdict was an instruction for debtors on how to avoid paying their debts and how to avoid bankruptcy proceedings. Another Social Democrats' creditor has also appealed the verdict with the Prague High Court. Mr Altner says that the Social Democrats owe him 93 million crowns in unpaid legal fees for representing the party in a court dispute with the Finance Ministry over its Prague headquarters Lidovy dum in 2000. According to Mr Altner, the sum plus interests and late-payment penalties has risen to almost 20 billion crowns.

Czech traffic police register almost 300,000 offences

Czech traffic police say they registered 274,000 offences in the first half of this year and issued fines worth more than 167 million crowns. The most frequent offence remained speeding, amounting to almost half of all traffic offences. Almost 3,500 drivers were found drunk-driving. During road checks, police also detained over 2,000 persons suspected of having committed criminal acts and over 200 wanted persons. The Senate on Friday passed an amendment to the road traffic law introducing more lenient punishment for certain offences. According to statistics, the penalty points system which came into effect a year ago has failed to reduce the number of fatalities on Czech roads.

Police: man confesses to killing girlfriend and disposing of body in park

Police say that the young woman whose remains were found earlier this month in plastic bags in a park in the town of Usti and Labem was killed by her boyfriend. The 29-year-old suspect allegedly killed his 21-year-old girlfriend and mother of his three-year-old son in late June after an argument by hitting her on the head with a blunt instrument and then tried to dispose of the body. He was detained on Thursday and confessed to the crime. On Friday he was remanded in custody and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Police say the man was on their list of domestic violence offenders.

Bulgaria shortlists six companies for nuclear plant partnership

The Czech energy giant CEZ is among six companies shortlisted by Bulgaria's National Electricity Company as potential strategic equity investors to help build and run a new nuclear power plant at Belene in the north of the country. Besides CEZ, the companies shortlisted are France's EDF, E.ON of Germany, Electrabel of Belgium, Italy's ENEL of Italy and RWE of Germany. The companies have until October 1st to make formal offers. Potential investors will receive up to 49 percent of the share capital in the public-private Belene Power Company, which will finance construction and operate the new plant. The Bulgarian state plans to keep a 51-percent share in the future company.

Five police officers punished for detaining Young Social Democrats

The Czech police leadership have imposed disciplinary punishment on five police officers who detained several members of the Young Social Democrats during a May Day demonstration this year. The detained later complained of being bullied, for example of being forced to strip naked and perform physical exercises. The police leadership said that the policemen made a "tactical error" and failed to cope with organisational issues, the Czech police official website says. Police detained some 20 people after the Young Social Democrats clashed in Prague with the supporters of the nationalist Patriotic Front and the National Unification party. The Social Democrats said the police behaved in a scandalous way and that they were humiliated during the detention.

Uherske Hradiste Summer Film School kicks off

The Uherske Hradiste Summer Film School has kicked off in the south Moravian town, with a record attendance expected this year. So far over 5,000 visitors have accredited for what is the 33rd such event. The weeklong festival will present 230 feature films and over a hundred documentaries and shorts. The festival will also feature accompanying theatre performances, concerts, exhibitions and workshops.

Czech translation of latest Harry Potter book to be published next year

A Czech translation of the latest Harry Potter book could be finished either at the end of this year or early next year, the publisher Albatros says. The translator, Pavel Medek, will obtain a copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in the small hours of Saturday after the book's international release. The publisher says they will wait until next year with the release of the Czech translation to prevent the book from dominating the Christmas book sales.

Weather

Saturday should be hot and sunny with daytime highs between 32 and 37 degrees Celsius. We can expect occasional rain and cooler temperatures on Sunday, at 24 to 29 degrees Celsius.