• 01/28/2005

    Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has sharply criticised the European Union for deciding to no longer invite Cuban dissidents to receptions at EU states' embassies in Havana. The EU has reportedly adopted this position so as to facilitate increased dialogue with the Cuban authorities. However, in an article in France's Le Figaro newspaper Mr Havel described the EU's stance as "diplomatic apartheid". He said the Union could not have found a better way of tarnishing the ideals of freedom and respect for human rights.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 01/28/2005

    Vodickova Street in the centre of Prague has been closed after the pavement collapsed on Thursday while repair work was underway. Two workers fell into the hole, with one of them sustaining serious injuries to his spine. Officials say the street is likely to be closed to traffic for at least two weeks.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 01/28/2005

    Several Czech MPs are calling for an end to the anonymity enjoyed by people who use pay-as-you-go mobile telephones with pre-paid cards. They say such anonymity makes it harder for the police to monitor criminals, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Friday. However, around three-quarters of the Czech Republic's mobile phones use unregistered pre-paid cards, and some mobile operators say they do not believe politicians would take the radical step of banning them.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 01/28/2005

    A burst pipe caused an oil spill near the central Bohemian town of Caslav on Friday. Over 200 cubic metres of crude oil was released before emergency crews brought the situation under control. Experts said the spill did not present a serious threat to the environment.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 01/28/2005

    The Czech ice hockey legend Ivan Hlinka was breaking the speed limit when he was involved in a fatal accident last year, according to a report quoted in Friday's Mlada fronta Dnes. Mr Hlinka was going around 160 km an hour when the accident occurred. An earlier judgment in which the driver of the lorry he crashed into was deemed responsible may now be amended or quashed, the daily said.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 01/28/2005

    The 12th annual Days of European Cinema film festival has just got underway in Prague. It opened on Thursday night with a screening of the Hungarian film Kontroll, attended by the producer and two of the film's stars. After it ends in the capital on February 6, the festival moves on to the Czech Republic's second city Brno.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 01/28/2005

    Three Czech women have protested about being featured in a newspaper photograph illustrating a story on growing obesity in Brazil. The New York Times took a photo of the women on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro without their permission, giving the impression they were Brazilians. One of the three, Milena Suchoparkova, who is 59, said she had always been robust but would not describe herself as obese.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 01/27/2005

    A Czech delegation joined world leaders and Holocaust survivors gathered in the Polish town of Auschwitz on Thursday to pay homage to the memory of millions of Holocaust victims on Holocaust Memorial Day. In the Czech Republic, among other special events, a plaque dedicated to people who helped save Czechoslovak Jews from the death camps has been unveiled at Prague's Pinkas Synagogue. It bears the names of the 160 people who saved around 200 Jewish children during the war. Some 80,000 Czechoslovak Jews perished in the Holocaust.

  • 01/27/2005

    The Czech Finance Minister, Social Democrat Bohuslav Sobotka, has issued a more optimistic forecast for the country's economy in 2005, predicting growth of 3.8 percent over earlier forecasts of 3.6 percent. A cut in taxes paid by lower and middle-earning groups planned by the ruling Social Democrat party should drive the economy's growth, Mr Sobotka told journalists. The central bank, Czech National Bank, predicts that the Czech economy will grow by 3.2 to 4.4 percent.

  • 01/27/2005

    The central bank has unexpectedly cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, with the key repo rate down at 2.25 percent as of Friday. According to analysts, the reason for the decision was a new inflation forecast revised downwards and a stricter monetary policy due to the strong crown. The crown reaction came immediately, with a fall by 20 hellers to the euro to 30.25 crowns to the euro. Tied to the repo rate of the central bank are interest rates on bank deposits and loans.

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