News

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Bush visit to cause considerable traffic disruption in Prague

The Prague authorities say there will be considerable disruption to transport in the city during a visit by US President George Bush at the beginning of next week. Cars will not be allowed to stop along any of the routes Mr Bush is expected to take on Monday evening or during the day on Tuesday. The biggest restrictions are due around Prague Castle, which will be closed off.

George Bush will discuss plans to build a US radar base in the Czech Republic with the country's president, Vaclav Klaus, and prime minister, Mirek Topolanek. He is also due to deliver a key-note speech at a conference, and may visit the Radio Free Europe headquarters in the centre of the Czech capital.

Climbing Everest indescribable experience, says Prague Mayor Bem

Prague Mayor Pavel Bem says reaching the top of Mount Everest was an indescribable experience. Speaking upon arriving at Prague Airport on Monday evening, a bearded Mr Bem denied he had undertaken the climb to increase his political profile; he said climbing was his hobby or even life-style. Referring to criticism of his decision to take two months' leave as Prague mayor, Mr Bem said nothing dramatic had happened in the capital in his absence. On May 18th he became only the tenth Czech to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain.

PM says he should have scared public more over need for reforms

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek says his biggest mistake was not scaring the Czech public enough about what could happen if social, tax and health reforms are not carried out. Speaking at a seminar in the Senate, Mr Topolanek said the situation was dismal and he should have issued a sterner warning to voters when he first unveiled the government's reform plans. The Chamber of Deputies is due to vote on the reform package at the start of next month. If it does not pass, the prime minister says he will push for early elections.

Meanwhile, the director of the Czech central bank, Zdenek Tuma, said on Tuesday that the reforms were a step in the right direction. However, he said they were a first step towards stabilising the public finances in the short term, and did not guarantee their sustainability in the long term.

Two post-revolution ministers collaborated with StB, says official

Two ministers in the first post-communist Czechoslovak government collaborated with the StB secret police, military intelligence spokesman Ladislav Sticha said on Tuesday. Richard Sacher, who was interior minister, and Miroslav Vacek, who served as defence minister, had ties to the StB's counter-intelligence service, Mr Sticha said. Both men's terms ended by the close of 1990.

Government rapped over lease of fighter planes

The Czech government failed to justify adequately the leasing of 14 Gripen fighter planes three years ago, the Supreme Audit Office has said. Leasing the jets has cost the state around 20 billion CZK (around 1 billion USD). The Defence Ministry has rejected the charge, saying the country needed the planes and it had first wanted 24 of them. The SAO also said there was a lack of pilots trained to fly Gripens as well as suitable technical staff.

Martinu to become police president

Oldrich Martinu is to become the new head of the Czech police, Interior Minister Ivan Langer announced on Tuesdsay. Mr Martinu, who is currently serving as deputy police president, will replace Vladislav Husak; he resigned in March after allegations of impropriety and is now head of the foreigners' police.

Czech-born Miss World passes "maturita"

Czech-born Miss World Tatana Kucharova has passed her "maturita" school leaving exams. Pravo reported that the 19-year-old blonde was relieved after passing the exams at the Josef Skvorecky secondary school in Prague on Monday. Tatana Kucharova is the first Czech Miss World.

Sparta Prague win Czech football league

Sparta Prague have won the Czech (previously Czechoslovak) football league for the 34th time, after taking all three points in their final game of the season on Monday. The win makes them the only team to achieve a Czech league and cup double since the split of Czechoslovakia. Slavia Prague came second in the league, followed by Mlada Boleslav.

Ceske Budejovice retire jersey in tribute to Poborsky

Ceske Budejovice football club have "retired" the number 8 jersey worn by Karel Poborsky, following the final game of his career on Monday evening. Poborsky, who is co-owner of Ceske Budejovice, played a record 118 times for the Czech national team.

World's first interactive cinema revived 40 years after debut

Kinoautomat, the Czechoslovak exhibit at Expo 67, is being revived at a Prague cinema on Tuesday night. Viewers have several opportunities to vote on what happens next in Clovek v dome (Man in His House), which has been described as the world's first interactive film. The revival, which runs till June 20, is taking place at Svetozor, the same cinema where the Kinoautomat took place in 1971 before being banned by the communists.

Weather

It should get gradually warmer over the next few days, reaching up to 25 degrees Celsius at the end of the week. We will continue to have some sunshine and rain in places.