Organised crime groups allegedly influencing state administration

A high ranking police officer has reported that organised crime groups are influencing the state administration. Speaking before Parliament's Defence and Security Committee, the head of the Czech Police's elite organised crime unit, Jan Kubice, said on Monday that investigations of three serious cases have shown that some politicians are tied to organised crime groups. Mr Kubice says the evidence he has to back his claim is confidential. He presented it to the parliamentary committee during its closed session on Monday afternoon.

Czech government sends 5 million crowns in aid to Indonesia

The Czech Republic will send neither rescue teams nor humanitarian aid to earthquake hit Indonesia. The government has released five million crowns (around 225,000 US dollars) in financial aid instead, the foreign ministry announced on Monday. Saturday's 7.6 magnitude earthquake on the island of Java has claimed more than 5,000 lives. An estimated 20,000 people are injured and hundreds of thousands are displaced.

Flooded road leaves Prague district cut off from rest of world; more rain forecast

Residents of Prague's Dolni Cernosice district have been cut off from the rest of the world after continuous rain flooded the only road that connects them to the city. Levels of the nearby Berounka River have begun to recede but meteorologists say more heavy rain is expected in the next few days. The situation in most parts of the country that were also flooded this weekend has also calmed. The heavy rain has resulted in dozens of millions of crowns in damages so far.

Sustainable Development Week 2006

The fourth annual Sustainable Development Week was launched in Prague on Monday. Until June 2, conferences, workshops, presentations and discussions will be held at various venues around Prague focusing on sustainable production and consumption. The project is organised by the Czech Environment Ministry in co-operation with the French, British, and the Swiss embassies.

Anti-tobacco campaigners: 2,000 Czechs die from effects of passive smoking every year

Some 2,000 Czechs are believed to die every year from illnesses resulting from passive smoking, the director of the Czech Coalition against Tobacco Katerina Langrova said on Monday ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which is marked every year on March 31 by anti-tobacco lobbyists around the globe. In a campaign this week, Czech tobacco control advocates hope to help and persuade non-smokers to fight against passive smoking. Smoke is tolerated at concerts or in restaurants simply because many non-smokers are unaware that they have the right and means to fight for clean air, Mrs Langrova says.

Filmmakers protest against lack of state support

A group of Czech filmmakers have withdrawn their productions from a prestigious international film festival in Moravia in protest at what they call a lack of support for the Czech film industry by politicians. In their last session before the elections, Czech deputies failed to overturn a presidential veto of higher financial support for filmmakers last week. In protest, films such as Restart (director Julius Sevcik), Shark in the Head (director Maria Prochazkova), Still Living (director Pavel Gobl) and The City of the Sun (director Martin Sulik), have been taken out of the prestigious 46th Zlin International Film Festival for Children and the Youth. The festival was launched on Monday and will screen 410 films from 35 countries until Saturday.

Annual literary marathon dedicated to works by Arnost Lustig

A three-day annual literary marathon has begun in Prague, dedicated to Czech writer Arnost Lustig who turns eighty this year. Until Wednesday, students, artists, politicians, but also book lovers will read 15 minute excerpts from a work by Mr Lustig or any other Czech or Slovak writer. Among the politicians expected to take part are former justice minister Jaroslav Bures, former TV magnate Vladimir Zelezny, and former Prague mayor Jan Kasl. The current Mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, launched the marathon, which takes place at Prague's Jazz Section.

The event will be accompanied by exhibitions of photographs depicting the life of Arnost Lustig and of publications by the Mlada Fronta publishing house. The literary marathon will continue in Czech Centres in Kiev, Kosice, Stockholm, the Hague, and Warsaw.

Weather forecast

The next few days have been forecast with overcast skies and rain throughout the country. Day temperatures will not exceed 14 degrees Celsius.