News

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Events held to mark anniversary of Prague Uprising

A number of ceremonies have been held in the Czech capital to mark the anniversary of the historic Prague Uprising, which began on May 5th, 1945, a few days before the end of World War II. One of the main events took place on Friday in front of the Czech Radio building on Prague's Vinohradska Street, the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the uprising. In May 1945 around 30,000 of the city's citizens fought the Nazis over three days, with more than 1,500 losing their lives.

Interior Ministry commission recommends officer be charged in Jacques case

An Interior Ministry commission investigating a case of alleged police brutality against May Day demonstrator and human rights official Katerina Jacques, has recommended that one officer in question face criminal charges. The commission is still weighing the nature of the charges - including causing bodily harm. On May 1st Mrs Jacques was taken into police custody after a clash with policeman Tomas Cermak. Jacques, along with a number of witnesses, stated that she was kicked and beaten with a truncheon by the officer before being handcuffed. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek was swift in criticising the police action.

Mrs Jacques has herself now filed charges against the police officer.

Czech President vetoes bill on non-profit hospitals

The office of Czech President Vaclav Klaus has revealed that the president has vetoed a bill that would have established a network of non-profit hospitals within the country's health care system. The bill, which would have transformed almost 150 hospitals currently managed by local authorities into public facilities financed from health insurance payments, was passed in April with support from Social Democrat and Communist MPs. It will be returned to the lower house for a new vote. Mr Klaus - a former head of the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party - has indicated that he opposed the bill on the grounds that it was the wrong approach towards the country's troubled health sector.

The veto comes less than a month before general elections on June 2nd and 3rd: health care reform is considered a major issue in this year's election run-up.

PM: Mladek "not a threat to state security"

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has backed fellow Social Democrat and Agriculture Minister Jan Mladek, saying Mr Maldek posed no threat to state security following information released by a Czech daily saying that the minister had been refused a clearance certificate by the National Security Authority five years ago, allowing him, for example, to access secret documents. The prime minister has said that he has no information at his disposal that Mr Mladek - as agriculture minister - posed any kind of danger. At the same time, he said that he expected the minister to undergo vetting to dispel any doubts about his security suitability - even if not required by the law.

The daily Mlada fronta Dnes wrote earlier this week that the National Security Authority had refused to grant Mr Mladek security vetting in 2001 when he was deputy finance minister. According to the paper, Mr Mladek had connections to a number of Russian business figures suspected of having links to Russian intelligence services. The minister has denied any such contacts, and dismissed the claim as mere allegation.

Aktualne.cz: Czech Army contract for Steyr transporters faces legal threat

The Czech Army's record contract for 234 armoured transporter vehicles, won last year by Austrian-based Steyr Daimler Puch with a bid of over one billion dollars, faces a legal threat, according to the Czech online news server aktualne.cz. A Prague court ruled this week that the Italian bidder for the contract, Iveco Fiat, was unfairly eliminated during the first round, the server has reported, citing the company's Czech lawyer, Viktor Bradac. According to Mr Bradac, the ruling means that the Ministry of Defence cannot sign the final contract with Steyr, a subsidiary of US defence giant General Dynamics, since - in his view - Iveco is back in the tender.

The Ministry of Defence spokesman so far has said that the ministry can not comment until it receives a written version of the court's decision.

Navratilova arrives in Prague ahead of tennis tournament

Nine time Wimbledon tennis singles champion and former world number 1 Martina Navratilova has arrived in Prague ahead of next week's ECM Prague Open. Navratilova will be performing in the doubles tournament with Barbora Strycova. The tournament is taking place at Prague's famous Stvanice stadium. Twenty years ago it was there that the Czech-born player helped the US to victory over Czechoslovakia in the Fed Cup. Ms Navratilova has told journalists that she is excited about playing in Prague again, saying that feelings experienced playing here would be different from anywhere else.

Jaromir Jagr to undergo surgery Monday

The NHL's New York Rangers have announced that Czech ice hockey star Jaromir Jagr will undergo surgery to a dislocated left shoulder on Monday. Jagr suffered the injury in the third period of the first game of the Rangers' first-round playoff series against New Jersey. After missing game two, Jagr struggled in game three and took another hit in the shoulder in game four to end his season. The Devils ousted the Rangers in a four-game sweep. Jagr, a finalist for this year's Most Valuable Player award, set Rangers' franchise records with 54 goals and 123 points this season.

Weather

The weekend is expected to see plenty of sunshine - with a chance of light showers in places. Daytime highs should average at about 20 degrees Celsius.