News

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Czech Republic opens embassy in Kabul

The Czech Republic has opened an embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul. Speaking at the opening on Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said it was important for the country to show support for Afghanistan. A Czech charge d'affaires is to run the embassy temporarily; a new ambassador has been selected but has not been officially presented yet. Czechoslovakia closed its embassy in the country in 1992.

While in Kabul, Mr Schwarzenberg and Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova met the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and visited a Czech field hospital in the city.

March best month ever for Skoda Auto...

March was the most successful month in the history of car maker Skoda Auto. Last month the company recorded over 60,000 vehicles sold, which represented a year-on-year rise of almost 15 percent, according to figures released on Monday. Over half of Skoda Auto's sales in the first quarter of this year were in western Europe.

...but unions at car maker planning strike on Tuesday over pay

However, the company is currently experiencing problems: trade unions at its plant in Mlada Boleslav are planning to go on strike on Tuesday, when work will cease for two and a half hours during three shifts. On Friday Skoda Auto management withdrew an offer of a 13-percent pay rise for employees, and returned to an earlier proposal to increase wages by 7.5 percent. Talks between the two sides are set to continue.

Last Communist prime minister of Czechoslovakia dies

The last Communist prime minister of Czechoslovakia, Ladislav Adamec, has died at the age of 80. Adamec joined the Communist Party in 1946 and stayed on the sidelines during the Prague Spring reform movement which the Soviets crushed in 1968. He became prime minister of Czechoslovakia in 1988, a position he held until end of the following year, when the Velvet Revolution had brought communism to an end in the country.

Romany groups file charges against Deputy PM Cunek over slurs

Fourteen Romany organisations and around 100 individuals have filed a criminal complaint of defamation against Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek. Mr Cunek appeared to malign Romanies in a recent newspaper interview and came in for criticism from across the political spectrum. The Christian Democrats leader is also under investigation for alleged bribe-taking; he has repeatedly resisted calls for him to step down.

Klaus now tolerant towards ombudsman's office, says Motejl

President Vaclav Klaus now has a tolerant attitude to the office of ombudsman, Ombudsman Otakar Motejl told reporters after presenting him with an annual report on Monday. Mr Klaus was originally opposed to the creation of the institution. Mr Motejl said the president was pragmatic, and had been persuaded of the significance of the ombudsman's office. It dealt with 6,400 complaints last year, and found public offices to be at fault in 400 cases. The institution came into existence in 2001; Otakar Motejl is the only person to have occupied the post to date.

Lany to get new statue of T.G. Masaryk

A new statue of the first Czechoslovak president T.G. Masaryk is to be erected in front of the Masaryk museum in Lany, central Bohemia within three years. The bronze statue will be slightly larger than life-like and will be the first to feature the founder of Czechoslovakia on a horse, said a museum representative. It hopes to raise money for the statue through a national public collection, and has set up a special bank account. Masaryk, who was president from 1918 to 1935, is buried in Lany.

PM Topolanek says 'blob' will probably grow on him

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said he is less opposed than he was to a controversial new National Library building to be built on Prague's Letna Plain. Speaking on a visit to the Library's Clementinum building in Prague's Old Town, Mr Topolanek said he would probably get used to the green blob-like building, which has been designed by London-based Czech architect Jan Kaplicky.

Referee attacked after youth football game

A football referee was hospitalised with suspected concussion after being attacked by a spectator following a youth league game in Plzen, the local edition of the daily Denik reported. The spectator, who is 54, also waved a knife at match organisers, the paper said, adding that the man was believed to be the father of one a teenage player. Police are treating the incident as a misdemeanor.

Director Michalek begins shooting new picture

The Czech director Vladimir Michalek is this week beginning work on a new film entitled O rodicich a detech ('On Parents and Children'). His last movie was Babi leto (Autumn Spring) starring Vlastimil Brodsky, which won four Czech Lion awards. Michalek's new film is based on a novel by Emil Hakl.

Spidla presents anti-discrimination award to Italian journalist

The Czech European commissioner, Vladimir Spidla, has presented an EU anti-discrimination award to Italian journalist Fabrizio Gatti, who infiltrated the world of exploited workers for a piece published in the magazine L'Espresso. Mr Spidla, who is EU commissioner for labour and social affairs, said increasing awareness of such issues was hugely important.

Weather

The unusually warm weather we've been having is set to end in a couple of days, with temperatures falling to around 15 degrees Celsius in the middle of the week. There should be rain in places with bright spells.