News

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Two more cases of bird flu confirmed

Czech veterinary officials have confirmed more cases of bird flu at two poultry farms in eastern Bohemia. Both farms are located inside the safety zone where special measures took affect in mid June after the deadly H5N1 virus appeared at a turkey and poultry farm in the vicinity of the Norin and Tisova villages. Due to the strict security measures in place, vets are confident that no birds or poultry products have left the area since. Another 80,000 farm birds and the birds of all small holders in the region will be culled in the next twenty-four hours.

Moscow sends Prague a protest note over vandalized war graves

Moscow has sent the Czech government a protest note over alleged vandalism of Russian war graves at the Olsany cemetery in Prague. A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Prague said that the bronze decorations on the graves of 48 World War Two Red Army soldiers had been removed, in what he said was the third case of vandalism of Russian war graves since May of this year. The embassy said it expected the offenders to be punished and the graves restored to their original state. The incident comes a few weeks after the Russian consulate denounced the removal of a hammer and sickle from a war memorial to Red Army soldiers in Brno.

Senator under fire for allegedly making racist remarks

Romany activists have called for Czech Senator Liana Janackova, who is under fire for allegedly making racist remarks about the Roma minority, to leave her post in the Senate's Human Rights Committee. The senator, who is also mayor of Ostrava's Marianske Hory district, was secretly recorded during a meeting of the local council at which she proclaimed she was a racist, said she was against integration and spoke about putting the Roma minority behind a high electric fence. Although Mrs. Janackova previously questioned the authenticity of the recording and said her words had been taken out of context, on Wednesday she offered to personally apologize to any Romany who felt insulted or threatened by what she said had been "careless and silly behaviour" on her part.

This is not the first time that Liana Janackova is accused of racism. She made headlines in 1997 when she suggested that the state should financially help any Czech Romanies who wanted to emigrate to Canada.

Court rejects proposal to launch bankruptcy proceedings against Social Democrats

The Prague City Court has rejected a proposal by lawyer Zdenek Altner to launch bankruptcy proceedings against the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Altner sued the Social Democratic Party for allegedly failing to pay his fee for representing the party in its dispute with the Finance Ministry over the party's Prague headquarters Lidovy Dum. Altner won the case in 2,000 and says he has not been paid for his services to date. According to the lawyer, the Social Democrats owe him close to twenty million crowns. The Prague City Court ruled that there were no grounds on which to launch bankruptcy proceedings and that the plaintiff had failed to justify his claims.

Poll suggests opposition Social Democrats now strongest party

An opinion poll conducted by the Median agency suggests that the opposition Social Democrats are now the strongest party on the Czech political scene. For the first time since last June's general elections the Social Democrats have come out one and a half percentage points ahead of their main rival the centre right Civic Democratic Party. If elections were held today the Social Democrats would win 34, 8 percent of the vote, while the ruling Civic Democratic Party would stand to get only 33.3 percent, Median says.

Czech arms exports highest in 9 years

Czech arms exports in 2006 were the highest in nine years, according to an annual report on the control of exports of military material and handguns for civilian use. The country exports aircraft, equipment and services, tanks, armoured vehicles and spare parts. Half of the exports went to Europe, 15 percent to North America and the rest were equally divided among other countries.

Inflation statistics

Czech inflation rose to 2.5 percent in June on a 12-month comparison after 2.4 percent in May, the Czech Statistics Office announced on Wednesday. In June, consumer prices rose by 0.3 percent compared with the May figure. Consumer prices in May rose 0.4 percent from April.

The 2.5 percent inflation rate is the highest so far this year, also reached in April. The main factors behind the latest price rises were more expensive alcohol, tobacco and transport costs, the office said.

Czech unemployment falls to record low of 6.3 percent in June

Czech unemployment fell to 6.3 percent in June from May's 6.4 percent, a record low since the new calculation procedure was introduced in July 2004, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs said on Wednesday. The number of unemployed capable of taking up work immediately fell by 6,769 to 346,835 in June, the ministry added. The figure is in line with most analysts expectations.

Nedved stays on at Juventus

The former Czech football international Pavel Nedved has decided to remain at Juventus. Nedved, who is 35 next month, had considered retiring after helping the club gain promotion to Italy's first division. The 2003 European player of the year told reporters that Juventus had increased his salary; it is believed he will now receive as much as some of the team's other star players.

Weather

The next few days are expected to be overcast and rainy with day temperatures around 18 degrees Celsius. The weekend should bring warmer weather and next week's temperatures are expected to be back in the 30s.