News

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Czech villagers vote against US defence shield

More than 1,000 villagers voted on Saturday against a planned US radar base which could be built near their homes. Residents from the villages of Hvozdany, Tyne and Zajecov overwhelmingly rejected the project. In Hvozdany, 381 of the village's 409 voters said they opposed the move. In another two referenda also held on Saturday, an overwhelming majority of voters from Zajecov and Tyne voiced their opposition. The results of the referenda are however not binding for the Czech government, which will take a final decision after the issue is put to vote in parliament, probably at the start of next year. The votes were held 48 hours before US President George W. Bush arrives in Prague on a two-day visit, which will largely be dominated by the issue.

PM: President Bush must know CR are allies

On the eve of George W. Bush's visit to Prague, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said the US President should leave the Czech Republic with the knowledge that the Czech Republic is an ally of the United States, yet will not allow anyone to dictate anything to it. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Mr Topolanek said that during the Tuesday talks with Mr Bush, he would not link the issue of the US request to station a radar base, part of its anti-missile shield, in the Czech Republic with US visa requirements for Czech citizens.

PM to discuss public finance reform with two ex-Social Democrat MPs

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is due to meet on Tuesday MPs Milos Melcak and Michal Pohanka who left the opposition Social Democratic Party last autumn and enabled Mr Topolanek's right-of-centre coalition cabinet to win a vote of confidence in the lower house. The two MPs may play a crucial role in the upcoming vote on the government-proposed package of public finance reforms. The opposition has said it will not support the legislation and the governing coalition has no guaranteed majority in the chamber. Prime Minister Topolanek says he does not yet know the two legislators' view on the reform package.

The leadership of the Social Democrats recommended to the party's MPs on Saturday to file a constitutional complaint against the reform package and not to approve it in a vote scheduled to take place in July. Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek said at a news conference on Saturday that with their reform plan the ruling coalition was creating a country only for the rich. The first stage of the reforms, approved by the cabinet last week, includes changes to the tax and social welfare systems and introduces fees for certain healthcare services.

First post-communist defence minister wants authorities to release his file

Former Czechoslovak Defence Minister, General Miroslav Vacek, says he will ask the Czech Republic's Chief-of-Staff Vlastimil Picek and Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova to release documents proving his secret collaboration with the communist military counter-intelligence. Speaking in a live debate on Czech Television on Sunday, General Vacek said he was proud of his past including his work for the military counter-intelligence which he later headed as Defence Minister. However, he denies having agreed to secret collaboration.

Earlier this week, the military intelligence revealed two ministers in the first post-communist cabinet, Miroslav Vacek and Richard Sacher, had collaborated with communist-era secret services. Both men's terms ended by the close of 1990.

Czech Republic in need of residential care facilities for Alzheimer's patients

The Czech Republic is in need of more facilities to provide care to patients with Alzheimer's disease, according to Jiri Horecky, the head of the Czech Association of Social Services. Mr Horecky says the current capacity covers only 20 percent of the overall need. He also says the need is going to further increase with the ongoing trend of population ageing. According to estimates between 60,000 and 120,000 people in the Czech Republic suffer from Alzheimer's. The neurodegenerative disease affects mostly old people but has also been diagnosed in middle-aged patients.

Seventeenth Prague Writers' Festival starts in Czech capital

The 17th Prague Writers' Festival stared in the Czech capital on Sunday, bringing together a number of world-renowned writers and academics, including American authors E. L. Doctorow and Gary Snyder. The focus of this year's Prague Writers' Festival will be the Dada movement which originated in Switzerland during WWI. The international festival, which will feature book signings, discussions and exhibitions, will last until June 6th.

Twelve-year-old dies after falling from hospital window

Police say a twelve-year-old boy fell to his death from a window in Prague's Motol hospital on Saturday. The boy fell from a 30-metre height and doctors were unable to save his life. Police are investigating the death as a case of suicide. TV Nova said the boy came to the hospital with his mother to visit his four-year-old sister. All of a sudden he jumped out of a window, TV Nova said.

Two killed in ultralight crash

Two people have been killed in an ultralight plane accident near the town of Nepomuk in West Bohemia. The accident happened on Sunday morning. The plane fell to the ground and caught fire. An investigation has been launched into the cause of the crash. Last year, seven people died in the Czech Republic in ultralight plane crashes.

Vaidisova into last eight at French Open

Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova reached the last eight of the French Open on Sunday with a 6:3, 6:1 win over Italy's Tathiana Garbin. The sixth seed will play the winner of the tie between Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Marion Bartoli of France for a place in the semi-finals.

Weather

The beginning of the week should remain cloudy with daytime temperatures just over 20 degrees Celsius.