Czech anti-terrorism unit to return to Afghanistan

The government has voted to send a Czech Army anti-terrorism unit to Afghanistan. A spokesman for the Defence Minister said the contingent would be similar to one sent to the country two years ago; it had 120 members and was under United States command.

Army medical team returns from Pakistan

Meanwhile, a 30-member Czech Army medical team has returned from Pakistan, where they had been helping survivors of a devastating earthquake which hit the country in November. The returning soldiers brought with them ten Pakistani children in need of specialised medical care.

Czechs did not want capitalism after 1989, says Klaus

Speaking at a conference on 15 years of capitalism in the Czech Republic, President Vaclav Klaus said most Czechs did not want capitalism after the Velvet Revolution but were in favour of various "third ways". Mr Klaus - who was finance minister in the early 1990s - said this reluctance to embrace capitalism was hard to believe from today's perspective. Tuesday evening's conference was attended by several other key players in post-revolution Czechoslovak politics.

MP wants tax breaks for contributions to employee holidays in Czech Republic

Companies would receive tax breaks for contributing towards holidays their employees spend in the Czech Republic under a proposal from Social Democrat MP Miroslav Svoboda. The daily Pravo reported that the contribution would amount to 10,000 crowns (around 400 US dollars) and said other Social Democrats backed the plan, which is aimed at supporting tourism in the Czech Republic.

VZP gets cash injection to help speed up payment of debts to hospitals, doctors

The biggest state health insurer, VZP, is to receive by the end of the week three billion crowns (120 million dollars) to help it pay its debts to doctors and hospitals. The health and finance ministers agreed on the move at a meeting on Wednesday. Currently there is a two-month delay in VZP payments, and this money is intended to shorten that period by around a week and a half. The health insurer has been in turmoil in recent months.

Record number of cars produced last year

A record 600,000 cars were manufactured in the Czech Republic last year. Almost 500,000 of those vehicles were produced by Skoda Auto, with the rest made at a plant opened by Toyota and Peugeot Citroen last February. The Toyota-Peugeot Citroen plant has the capacity to make many more cars, up to 300,000 a year. A similar number could be produced by Hyundai, if it builds a plant in Moravia; a decision on that deal is due by the end of the month.

Crown hits new high against euro

The Czech crown hit a record high of 28.70 against the euro on Wednesday. Analysts said all currencies in the central Europe region had strengthened.

Prague-born gorilla really is female after all, say organisers of internet project

DNA tests which showed a gorilla born at Prague Zoo was male were wrong, say the organisers of a project in which the zoo's gorillas are shown live on the internet; they say new tests they ordered show that Moja, the first gorilla born in this country, is actually female, as was originally believed.

Masaryk Hall opened at London School of Slavonic and East European Studies

The minister of education, Petra Buzkova, has opened a new lecture theatre called the Masaryk Hall at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London. Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia's first president, made the inaugural address at the institution when it opened in 1915.

West Ham refuse to even discuss sale of Repka to Sparta Prague

Sparta Prague football club look unlikely to sign the former Czech international Tomas Repka, after Repka's English Premiership club West Ham United refused to even hold talks on a possible transfer. Defender Repka says he wants to join the Czech champions so as to be with his family in Prague, though his contract at West Ham runs for another year and a half.


Temperatures should remain around freezing point over the next few days; it will be partly cloudy with some sunny spells.