News

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President Bush criticizes Russia and China on democracy at Prague conference

US President George W. Bush criticized Russia and China on democracy at an international conference in Prague on Tuesday. Speaking to democracy and human rights activists at the conference named "Democracy and Security: Core Values and Sound Policies, he said that the "reforms in Russia that once promised to empower citizens have been derailed with troubling implications for democratic development". In China, the US President said, "leaders believe that they can continue to open the nation's economy without also opening its political system".

US President George W. Bush arrived in Prague for a one-day visit on Monday evening. He left for Germany on Tuesday evening, where he is scheduled to attend is the G8 summit and meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday.

President Bush at Prague Castle: Washington and Moscow should cooperate on missile defence shield

On Tuesday morning, the US President met with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Speaking to journalists after the meeting at Prague Castle, Mr Bush said a US plan to build part of its missile defence shield in the Czech Republic and Poland is a "purely defensive" measure. He stressed that the defence shield is not aimed at Russia and that his message to Russian President Vladimir Putin would be not to fear the missile defence system but rather cooperate with Washington and send generals and scientists over to see how such a system would work.

Mr Bush was reacting to warnings from President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that if the American nuclear capability widens across European territory then Russia would give itself new targets in Europe. Mr. Putin acknowledged that Russia's response risked starting an arms race, but he said Moscow would not be responsible for the consequences because Washington had started it.

Prime Minister Topolanek: US visa policy towards Czechs is unjust

At Prague Castle, US President Bush also discussed Washington's visa policy and pledged to work with Congress to waive the visa requirement for Czechs. While US citizens do not need a visa to visit the Czech Republic, the visa-free policy is not reciprocal. Following the meeting with Mr Bush, Prime Minister Topolanek told journalists that the visa requirement is unjust and should be abolished.

Paroubek: US radar base the only disagreeing issue with President Bush

Besides the Czech head of state and leader of the government, Social Democrat opposition leader Jiri Paroubek also had the chance to discuss foreign policy issues with the US President. According to Mr. Paroubek, the plan to station a radar base in the Czech Republic is the only issue that the two politicians disagree on.

Broken pond dike floods Zlin district

Emergency workers and fire fighters in the Prstne district of the Moravian town of Zlin are busy clearing flood damage after the dike of a nearby pond broke. A fire fighter spokesperson has reported that the devastation is immense as the area was suddenly hit by a strong wave. Several houses are flooded and some roads are also damaged. The dike was recently repaired but burst due to high water pressure caused by repeated rain.

Head of Prague Castle Administration said to be former StB collaborator

Ivo Velisek, head of Prague Castle Administration, collaborated with the former communist secret police, the daily Pravo writes in its Tuesday edition. The paper says it has 1980s archive documents in which Mr Velisek is registered in the category of "confidential aides" with the cover name Obchodnik (Businessman). Mr Velisek allegedly reported on people from his surroundings, including Charter 77 signatories and the communist secret police assessed the two-year cooperation with him as "useful". Pravo writes that after 1989 Mr Velisek submitted a negative screening certificate and passed a security vetting that enabled him to take up his current post.

South African police searching for fugitive Czech-born billionaire

Police in South Africa are searching for Radovan Krejcir, a fugitive billionaire wanted by the Czech police. Despite the fact that an Interpol arrest warrant has been in effect and that the Czech authorities have been negotiating Mr Krejcir's extradition since his arrest, his lawyers managed to convince the detention centre to release him. His whereabouts are now unknown.

Mr Krejcir, who is wanted for extensive fraud and conspiracy to murder, managed to escape from the Czech Republic during a police raid of his villa in 2005. He moved to the Seychelles, where the authorities refused to extradite him because he had bought Seychelles citizenship. Travelling under a false identity, Mr Krejcir was detained at Johannesburg airport in April.

Tennis: Vaidisova out of French Open

The leading Czech women's tennis player Nicole Vaidisova has been knocked out of the French Open. The 18-year-old was beaten 3:6, 5:7 by Serbia's Jelena Jankovic in the quarter finals at Roland Garros on Tuesday. Vaidisova, who managed to reach the semi-finals last year, was the last Czech player left in the competition this year.

Weather

The next few days should bring clearer skies and sunshine with day temperatures at around 25 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs should reach 30 degrees by the end of the week.