News

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Cuba accuses expelled Czech diplomat of subversion

Cuba has accused Czech diplomat Stanislav Kazecky, whose visa it had refused to extend, of subversion and work for the USA. The 34-year old first secretary of the Czech Embassy in Havana was given 72 hours to leave the island. The Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque accused Mr Kazecky of violating the Vienna Convention on the rules of diplomacy by supporting "mercenary groups", a label used for dissidents.

The Czech Foreign Ministry believes that the de-facto expulsion of the Czech diplomat was a clear reprisal for its outspoken condemnation of the human rights situation under Fidel Castro's regime. The Cuban charge d'affaires Aymeé Hernández was called in to the Czech Foreign Ministry on Friday to explain the move and was handed an official protest from the ministry. The Czech Foreign Ministry also announced on Friday it would not renew the visa of Cuban diplomat Manuel Angel Baltar Charnicharo as a tit-for-tat response.

German court releases Czech escaped convict from custody

The authorities in neighbouring Germany have decided to release from custody a Czech escaped convict, Rostislav Roztocil. They say Czech courts have been taking too long to decide on the renewal of Mr Roztocil's trial which was a condition for the German authorities to extradite him. Rostislav Roztocil was sentenced by Czechoslovak courts in 1985 in absentia for murdering an Egyptian student. He was arrested in 2000 during one of his trips to the Czech Republic. Last November, he escaped from prison and was later arrested in Germany.

Water levels remain high in West Bohemia

Water levels remain high in West Bohemia though flood alerts have been reduced from the third and highest degree to second and first degrees after heavy rains in the region stopped on Friday. In South Moravia, which suffered large-scale flooding in previous weeks, spraying has started to prevent mosquitoes which breed in stagnant water from infesting the flooded areas.

Hlucin offers to bury German soldiers' remains

The town hall in Hlucin, North Moravia, has offered to bury the remains of some 4,000 German soldiers from WW2 that have been temporarily placed in a factory warehouse in Usti nad Labem, North Bohemia. The municipal authority wants to negotiate the possibility with the German People's Association for Care for Wartime Graves which originally intended to rebury the soldiers' remains at a central burial ground in Prague but ran out of money. Earlier this week the Defence Ministry agreed with the association to transport the remains to a military base and then bury them in a military cemetery in the town of Marianske Lazne in West Bohemia. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the remains of some 22,000 German soldiers have been exhumed from mass graves scattered around the Czech Republic.

Foreign Minister to visit Canada, United States

Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda is going to visit Canada next week to discuss above all visa requirements for Czech citizens. Canada reintroduced visas for Czech citizens in 1997 after a wave of Czech citizens had applied for asylum in the country. Four years later the Czech Republic introduced a reciprocal measure but again removed visa requirements for Canadians upon entering the EU in 2004. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said last month he would be in favour of a possible tightening of visa requirements of the citizens of the USA, Canada and Australia which require Czechs to have visas to enter their countries.

Minister Svoboda will also travel to the United States where he is due to open a consulate general in Chicago.

Czech Republic to support small businesses in Moldova

The Czech Republic has pledged to donate almost 6 million crowns (240,000 dollars) by 2008 in order to support small businesses in Moldova. The contribution is meant to reduce the number of illegal immigrants from the country by helping its economy. The project is a joint effort of the Catholic organisation Caritas Czech Republic and the Interior Ministry. Training will be provided to small entrepreneurs in Moldova and the most successful participants will be given loans in order to launch businesses of their own. Similar projects are underway in other countries, such as Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia.

US university to establish professorship in urban planning with help of Czech money

The Czech Republic's Ambassador to the United States, Petr Kolar, this week presented the University of New Orleans with 120,000 dollars from the Czech government. The money will go to the university's College of Urban and Public Affairs that will establish an endowed professorship in Comparative Urban Planning and Administration. The aim of the project is to encourage public debate on urban planning and revitalisation of areas affected by natural disasters. Earlier this year the Czech Ambassador presented a check for 100,000 dollars for the benefit of a public library in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, and another 100,000 dollars was donated towards the purchase of medications to a community pharmacy in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Weather

Rain has been forecast for most parts of the country for the next couple of days, with daytime temperatures expected to range from 14 to 18 degrees Celsius.