News

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Interior Minister orders checks of police officers' screening certificates

Interior Minister Ivan Langer has charged police president Vladislav Husak with examining the validity of police officers' screening certificates. Minister Langer said the checks will concern some 1,000 people. Police officers are required to produce a screening certificate proving they did not collaborate with the communist secret police before 1989.

Press: Head of Czech branch of Interpol passed vetting using false name

The Interior Minister's decision comes amid media reports that the head of the Czech branch of Interpol was a secret police agent before 1989. The daily Lidove noviny reported on Monday that he used a false name when acquiring security clearance. Interior Minister Ivan Langer confirmed to the paper that Pavol Mihal used the name Pavel Mihal when applying for the clearance. Last week Czech Television reported that Mr Mihal had begun collaborating with the communist secret police in 1984.

Decision on US radar base next spring, says defence minister

A decision on whether to allow the United States to build a radar base in central Bohemia should be made in the spring of next year, Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova said. The minister said between now and then there would be debate in the Czech Republic on the issue, culminating in a vote in parliament. The radar base would be part of a planned US global missile defence system. If approved, it should go into operation in 2011 and house around 200 military and civilian personnel.

Social Democrats admit possible change of position on US radar base

The chairman of the opposition Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek, says his party's negative stance towards the planned US radar base in the Czech Republic may not be definitive. After meeting the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Richard Graber, on Monday, Mr Paroubek said his party's position may change should the upcoming negotiations produce new information or if the base became part of NATO's collective defence system.

Ukraine calls US missile plans a "threat"

In related news, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister Mykola Azarov has said that plans by the United States to build an anti-missile defence system in neighbouring Poland and the Czech Republic pose a "threat" to Ukraine. He insisted that Kiev should react strongly to the situation, referring to the 1962 missile crisis between the US and Cuba. The US plans have also provoked protests from Russian officials.

CR vows to increase share of bio-fuels, reduce greenhouse emissions

The government has vowed to increase the share of bio-fuels in petrol and diesel consumption in transport to 10 percent by 2020 and by the same year reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 percent compared to the year 1990. Environment Minister Martin Bursik said the government will submit a new document on the country's energy policy to the European Commission next week.

Police officer charged with abuse of office for taking photo of dead composer

The police officer who confessed last week to selling a photograph of the dead body of composer Karel Svoboda to a tabloid newspaper has been charged with abuse of office. After Mr Svoboda committed suicide last Sunday a photo appeared in the tabloid Blesk showing the dead man's hand and a pistol. The officer, who is 22 and has been in the police for two years, was a member of the first team to arrive on the scene. If convicted he faces up to 3 years in prison.

Hyundai boss prison sentence not to affect works on Czech plant

The Czech branch of the South Korean car-maker Hyundai Motors says the fact that company head Chung Mong-Koo faces a three-year prison sentence for misusing company money will not affect the building of a car plant in Nosovice in the northeast of the country. The plant should be launched this spring and is expected to turn out up to 300,000 cars a year and employ 3,500 people.

Czech Republic sees record trade surplus in 2006

Data released by the Czech Statistical Office on Monday show the Czech Republic posted a record trade surplus of 47.3 billion crowns (2.19 billion US dollars) in 2006. Strong sales of cars and other transport equipment and machinery, where the trade surplus widened to 64.6 billion crowns, helped the country beat 2005's record surplus by 8.7 billion crowns.

Privatisation of Prague Airport could fetch 3 billion USD, says weekly

The state company which administers Prague's Ruzyne airport could fetch up to 65 billion CZK (around 3 billion USD) when it is sold off within the next couple of years, Tyden reported. The weekly said a number of large foreign investors were interested in acquiring Letiste Praha (Prague Airport). It is one of the last major privatisations expected in the Czech Republic. Ruzyne handled a record 11.5 million passengers last year.

Russia asks for extradition of man who threatened to blow up plane

Russia has asked the Czech Republic to extradite a Russian citizen who threatened to detonate a bomb onboard a Russian plane last December. The aircraft flying from Moscow to Geneva was forced to make an emergency landing in Prague where the 32-year-old man was arrested. No explosive device was found. Under Russian law he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. If tried by Czech courts he faces between three and fifteen years in jail.

Tender declared for renovation of Vitkov hill national memorial

The National Museum has declared a tender to renovate the national memorial on Prague's Vitkov hill, the weekly Euro reported. Work should begin on the monument this spring and last about two years. When completed the memorial will house an exhibition entitled Crossroads of Czech Statehood. There are also plans to open a terrace café with a view of the capital.

Man dies after jumping out police station window

A man who jumped out of a first-floor window while trying to escape from police custody has died. The 32-year-old suffered serious head injuries after jumping from the window of a police station in Kladno, central Bohemia on Saturday evening. An investigation has been launched into the incident.

Weather

The next couple of days are expected to be partly cloudy with a chance of rain and daytime temperatures between 3 and 8 degrees Celsius.