News

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Czech Republic helps initiate sanctions against Lukashenko regime

The Czech Republic within the European Union has helped put forward a plan for sanctions against the Lukashenko regime in Belarus. The plan - initiated by Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda - was been discussed at the EU summit in Brussels on Friday. Sanctions are in reaction to last weekend's elections in Belarus, widely considered flawed. On Thursday night between 300-500 opposition demonstrators protesting Mr Lukashenko's re-election, were confronted by police officers. The exact form of sanctions against Belarus has not yet been agreed, but is expected to include travel restrictions and financial penalties.

Sanctions may also include a travel ban for Belarus' strong-arm president.

Havel expresses support for protestors

In related news, former president Vaclav Havel is among those expressing support for Belarusian protestors: in a letter sent to the opposition Mr Havel expressed solidarity and a desire for a democratic and free Belarus. Speaking to journalists in Prague on Friday, Mr Havel said it was necessary to limit all official contacts with the country in order to fully isolate the Lukashenko regime.

Jaroslava Moserova, 76, loses battle with cancer

Czech politician and writer Jaroslava Moserova has died at the age of 76. She lost her battle with cancer on Thursday. The former senator had an extraordinary career, known for literary translations of novels by author Dick Francis. Mrs Moserova was also a burns specialist who was the first doctor to treat Jan Palach after the student immolated himself in protest of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

EU Summit: Czechs compromise on services liberalisation

Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has revealed that the Czech Republic has backed down from its earlier demand for a stronger directive on the liberalisation of trade in services in the European Union. Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Friday, the prime minister said that it was necessary to find a compromise on the issue. Czech representatives in the end backed Germany, France and the majority of EU countries on the European Parliament's much adapted proposal, lacking the previous "country-of-origin" clause. Countries like Hungary, Latvia, and the Netherlands were against.

The original clause would have allowed individuals as well as companies to provide services throughout the EU using the laws and regulations of their home country. The Czech Chamber of Commerce has already suggested that without it, any new directive will have little economic effect.

District court adjourns Bouzov case

A district court in the Moravian town of Olomouc has adjourned - indefinitely - a case in which the German order of Teutonic Knights has disputed the ownership rights of Moravia's Bouzov Castle. The German plaintiff has called for a return of the Czech state property confiscated in 1948 - but state representatives have argued that the order no longer has claim to the property. The district court ruled on Friday that both sides in the dispute have until next Wednesday to hand in final proposal statements. Bouzov Castle - first mentioned in records dating back to the 14th century - is one of the best known tourist sites in the Olomouc region: it was visited by some 100, 000 people last year.

Court quiet on "Barkova" warrant

A Prague City court has refused to reveal whether an arrest warrant will be issued for entrepreneur Libuse Barkova - a personal friend of former prime minister Stanislav Gross and his wife Sarka. Mrs Barkova - facing a new trial for insurance fraud - recently raised fears that she might elude justice after travelling to the Dominican Republic. She has since returned to Prague and her lawyer presented Mrs Barkova's passport to the court earlier this week, as well as issued a faxed promise by the defendant that she would not try and leave the country. In the past, a number of suspect business figures managed to escape abroad to avoid arrest in the Czech Republic - the most recent being Radovan Krejcir - a former Czech citizen now residing in the Seychelles.

Poll shows Greens at 10 percent

A new poll, conducted in March by the CVVM agency, has suggested that if elections were held today, the Green Party could get as much as ten percent of the vote. A number of polls have confirmed a rise in pre-election support for the party, until recently marginal on the Czech political scene. The party has never made it into Czech Parliament. A number of surveys now show the Greens' approval rating that of the Christian Democrats (at around 6 percent), and drawing close to the Communist Party (at 12.5 percent).

Most polls still show the country's largest opposition party, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats as first (25.5 percent), followed by the Social Democrats (21 percent).

Radio Impuls: Madonna to perform in Prague as part of 'Confessions' tour

According to the Czech commercial radio station Radio Impuls American pop icon Madonna is planning on performing in Prague in September. On Friday the station claimed the singer will take to the stage for two performances in Prague's Sazka arena come September 5th and 6th - as part of her 'Confessions on a Dance Floor' tour. Sazka itself has not confirmed any of the dates or information. If the dates are confirmed it will be the first time most Czech fans will be able to see Madonna in a live performance; the singer has never before played the Czech capital.

"Zlaty Amos" awarded to Pelhrimov teacher

The Czech Republic's 'Zlaty Amos' award - given yearly to the country's 'best' teacher has been awarded to Ivana Krumplova, a Czech elementary school teacher from the Czech-Moravian highlands' town of Pelhrimov. Mrs Krumplova, a specialist in geography and the Czech language, beat out 33 other nominees, and triumphed in the "final six" on Friday - impressing the jury with an open approach to her class. The teacher was awarded the "Amos" by outgoing Education Minister Petra Buzkova.

Czech figure skater Pavel Verner places 13th in Calgary

Czech figure skater Pavel Verner placed 13th at the World Men's Figure Skating Championship in Calgary, Canada. This is the best placement that the 19 year-old sportsman has ever notched in a world championship. Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel skated to gold, Brian Joubert won silver, and Evan Lysacek from the United States got bronze.

Weather

The weekend should see warmer temperatures of up to 10 degrees Celsius but Saturday and Sunday are expected to see cloudy periods and rain.