News

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US Senate Democrat leader says visa policy towards Czech Republic unjust

The Democratic leader in the United States Senate, Harry Reid, has said his country's visa policy towards the Czech Republic is unjust and serves no purpose, the Czech ambassador to Washington, Petr Kolar, said after a meeting between Mr Reid and Czech representatives. The Czech delegation was led by President Vaclav Klaus, who is on a week-long working visit to the US. While Americans do not need a visa to enter the Czech Republic, Czechs have to go through a complicated visa process to visit the US.

Second VAT rise could mean a 30-percent hike in cigarette prices

Less than two weeks after a rise in value added tax on cigarettes and tobacco products the Finance Ministry is already planning another VAT increase, Pravo reported. If the ministry's proposals are accepted, the new price rise could come into effect at the start of 2008. This would represent a record 30-percent rise in cigarette prices in one year.

Lidice Memorial gets photographic documentation of Nazi destruction of village

The Lidice Memorial has acquired unique photographic documentation of the village's destruction by the Nazis, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. The collection of 40 photos came from a woman in a nearby village; her husband had a drug-store during the war and made copies of pictures the Germans left to be developed. Lidice was razed to the ground in 1942 as a reprisal for the assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. The men in the village were executed while the women were sent to concentration camps.

Parkanova speaks out against military intelligence chief

The minister of defence, Vlasta Parkanova, has spoken out against the director of Czech military intelligence. In an interview in Lidove noviny, she said there was a lack of trust between herself and Miroslav Krejcik. She criticised the fact Mr Krejcik had told a newspaper there were former communist StB secret police agents in the military secret service until 2003. Minister Parkanova said when the head of the secret service appeared in the media it weakened and devalued the agency's work.

Paroubek: Premature to talk about Social Democrats' candidate for president

The leader of the Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek, said on Saturday that it was premature to talk about who the party's candidate would be in next year's presidential election. He said the Social Democrats would discuss criteria first and names later. Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Friday that the Social Democrats could nominate former prime minister Vladimir Spidla, ex-education minister Petra Buzkova or the former state attorney Marie Benesova. The incumbent Vaclav Klaus says he plans to seek re-election.

Saturday's Pravo reported that former dissident and Czechoslovak foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier could receive the backing of the Social Democrats, the Communists and the Greens. Mr Dienstbier said it was too early to discuss the matter but did not rule out standing.

Five arrested during far-right march

Five people were arrested during a march by a far-right group called National Corporativism in Prerov on Saturday. Police struggled to keep the marchers separate from a left-wing group who were protesting against them in the Moravian town. Bottles and cobblestones were thrown, but the police said there had been no recorded injuries.

Group suspected of trading in WWII German weapons

An organised group is suspected of searching for World War II-era weapons left in the border regions by Sudeten Germans and the Nazis and trading in the arms, Pravo reported. The daily said the police's organised crime unit has been investigating the matter for some weeks. A source close to the investigation said one of the suspects was a former StB secret police agent who had been involved in the same activity even before 1989.

Ministry questions legality of Prague mayor's plan to take unpaid leave to climb Everest

The Interior Ministry says Prague mayor Pavel Bem's plan to take seven weeks of unpaid leave to climb Mount Everest contravenes the law, Lidove noviny reported. However, deputy mayor Rudolf Blazek told the daily his superior could legally take the time off, adding that the Interior Ministry's opinion was not binding. Mr Bem plans to leave on the expedition later this month.

Over 300 Czech offices fly flag of Tibet

Over 300 public offices in the Czech Republic have raised the flag of Tibet, to commemorate the 48th anniversary of the crushing of an insurrection in the territory by the Chinese authorities. Prague's Chinese Embassy protested on Friday against the raising of the Tibetan flag at the Czech Environment Ministry.

Lionel Richie appears in Prague for first time

The American singer Lionel Richie appeared at Prague's Sazka Arena on Friday. The 57-year-old former member of the Commodores told the audience he had been almost everywhere in the world but was in Prague for the first time and could not believe it. Lionel Richie has sold over 70 million albums and won an Oscar in 1985 for his song Say You, Say Me.

Weather

There should be more sunny spells over the next few days. Temperatures are set to reach up to 17 degrees Celsius early next week.