News

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Fugitive billionaire detained in South Africa

Radovan Krejcir, a fugitive billionaire wanted by the Czech police, has been detained in South Africa. 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 on Saturday. His arrest is the result of a joint effort involving several countries, Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer said on Monday. The Czech authorities are now in discussion with South Africa and will send an official request for Mr Krejcir's extradition this week.

Czech politicians commemorate Boris Yeltsin

Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin has died at the age of 76. In a letter of condolence sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek says Mr Yeltsin was a historic personality who led Russia's transformation from a Soviet state to a modern society. According to former Czech foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier, Mr Yeltsin will be remembered as the man behind the peaceful break-up of the Soviet Union. But Mr Dienstbier also finds Boris Yeltsin responsible for failing to prevent corruption leading Russia's economy.

Head of US Missile Defence Agency in Prague

There are several other countries that could host a US radar station, if the Czech Republic should decide against hosting it, the director of the US Missile Defence Agency, Henry Obering, said in Prague on Monday. Mr Obering visited the Czech capital to inform the country's politicians and National Security Council about the technical parameters of a radar station that the United States has requested to build in the Czech Republic as part of its missile defence system in Europe. Mr Obering said he hopes the two countries will complete talks by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow is not happy with US-Russian talks on Washington's missile defence plan in Europe. The Russians have criticised the plan, saying it is a threat to their security. Mr Lavrov intends to discuss the issue at a NATO-Russia meeting in Oslo on Thursday.

US defence expert fails to change Social Democrats' position on radar base

In Prague, the head of the US Missile Defence Agency, Henry Obering, has not managed to change the country's second biggest party's position on the stationing of the US radar base on Czech territory. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said although Mr Obering answered a number of open questions, his party would continue to insist that such a radar base is part of the NATO defence system and that a referendum is held on whether it should be on Czech territory at all.

Suspicious suitcase at Brno City Hall contains bomb

Police have confirmed that a suspicious suitcase discovered at Brno City Hall three weeks ago contained a functional bomb. Lab tests found that it was made of the explosive "danubit". The device was connected to a mobile phone, which was without a battery. An investigation is now underway to determine what the device, which is believed to have been made by an expert, was to be used for. The suitcase also contained clothes, a wig, and surgical gloves.

Prime Minister Topolanek considers Melk Agreement as closed

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said the Czech government will approve a document on Wednesday under which the Melk Agreement between Prague and Vienna is considered closed. The agreement, signed in 2000, commits the Czechs to expert security at the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Speaking with Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Deputy Chancellor Wilhem Molterer in the Austrian capital on Monday, Mr Topolanek said the Czech Republic had met all terms. He added that border blockades and other such protests at the Temelin plant by Austrian anti-nuclear activists would be considered a violation of European directives and practices.

In Vienna, Mr Topolanek also objected to efforts at delaying the expansion of the Schengen zone. The Czech Republic is scheduled to enter the border-free zone at the start of next year but Austria has signalled that it would prefer to delay the enlargement process by several months or even a year.

Czech air force suspends training with Gripen jets

The commander of the Czech air force Ladislav Minarik says that he has suspended training on 14 Jas-39 Gripen fighter jets, which the Czech Republic has leased from Sweden. The decision was taken after Sweden has grounded all its Gripen planes following an accident involving one of the aircraft last week. A Swedish air force pilot was catapulted from his plane last Thursday, when his ejector seat was activated for no apparent reason. No one was hurt in the incident. Mr Minarik told Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes that pilots will train on flight simulators until the plane's manufacturers could explain the Swedish incident.

Finance Ministry: 2007 public finance deficit to reach 4 percent of GDP

The Finance Ministry estimates this year's public finance deficit to reach 138.4 billion crowns, which is 4 percent of the GDP. In 2006, the public finance deficit made up 2.95 percent of the GDP, down from 3.53 percent the year before. The ministry also calculates this year's public debt to amount to 1074.2 billion crowns - 31 percent of the GDP.

Vaclav Havel launches conference on philosopher Jan Patocka

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel launched a five-day conference in Prague on Monday. The event commemorates Czech philosopher Jan Patocka, who died thirty years ago and would have turned one hundred this year. Philosophers from Europe and the United States are exploring the significance of his work and its continuing influence on contemporary philosophy at Charles University's Carolinum. The annual meeting of the Husserl Circle, which communicates the works and philosophy of the father of phenomenology - Edmund Husserl -, is also a part of the conference.

Czech fire brigade reports sharp rise in the number of fires during recent warm weather

Czech fire fighters had to deal with more than four hundred fires over the weekend, three times the average amount. A spokesman for the Czech fire brigade told the Czech Press Agency on Monday that the fires had caused four and a half million crowns worth of damage and one person had been injured. The upsurge in the incidence of fires has been blamed on the unusually warm and dry weather the Czech Republic has been experiencing in recent weeks.

Poll: 58 percent of Czechs in favour of President Klaus serving another term

Close to three-fifths of the Czech population would like President Vaclav Klaus to serve another term as head of state, an opinion poll suggests. In the poll, conducted by the STEM agency, 58 were in favour of Mr Klaus' candidacy next year, of whom 23 percent said he should definitely run for the post. Fifty-eight percent of respondents also believe that the opposition parties will not be able to find a presidential candidate strong enough to win against Mr Klaus.

Sparta Prague go top of Gambrinus League after narrow win over Slavia

In football, Sparta Prague beat Slavia Prague 1:0 in an eagerly awaited derby on Monday, putting Sparta top of the Gambrinus League. The goal was scored by Pavel Horvath in the 62nd minute. The north Bohemian side Liberec are second after they beat Kladno one-nil away at the weekend, leaving Slavia Prague in third place on goal difference following Monday's match. A sell-out crowd of more than 20,000 people watched the game at Sparta's Letna stadium, the biggest turnout for a derby since the Czech league was established in 1993.

Weather

It is expected to be mostly cloudy with sporadic showers and storms in some places in the evening. Highest temperatures should range between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius.