• 08/16/2005

    Jaroslav Basta, the former Czech ambassador to Russia, has been appointed deputy foreign minister for political issues. Basta served as minister without portfolio in the Social Democrat Cabinet headed by Milos Zeman where he was in charge of the intelligence services. He was also one of the people behind the former government's anti-corruption drive "Clean Hands". Its poor results were one of the reasons why Mr. Basta had to leave the cabinet in the year 2000.

  • 08/16/2005

    President Vaclav Klaus is expected to appoint actor Vitezslav Jandak culture minister on Wednesday. Mr. Jandak will replace the late Pavel Dostal who died of cancer in July. The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said he expects the new culture minister to establish a constructive dialogue with the churches. This has proved to be a problematic area in recent years. The President will also be appointing the former Prague mayor, Igor Nemec, as head of the Office for Protection of Personal Data.

  • 08/15/2005

    Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has chosen actor and director of the Zlin film festival Vitezslav Jandak for the post of the Czech Republic's culture minister. The other two candidates were the general commissioner of the Czech Republic's exposition at the World Expo 2005 in Japan Vladimir Darjanin and the former director of Prague's National Theatre Jiri Srstka. The post was left vacant following the death of the late culture minister Pavel Dostal in July.

  • 08/15/2005

    There were no Czech citizens aboard the Prague-bound Cypriot airliner which crashed north of Athens on Sunday killing all 121 people on board, the Reuters agency wrote citing the official list of passengers. According to the Cypriot government there were 104 Cypriots onboard the plane, 12 Greek nationals, four Armenians and a German pilot. The Greek authorities have announced that the bodies of 119 victims have been found so far, along with both of the Boeing's black boxes, which have been sent to Paris to be examined by experts.

    The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and President Vaclav Klaus have sent their condolences and extended their sympathy to the victims' families and friends.

  • 08/15/2005

    The Interior Ministry is planning to close down some of the local centres for foreign asylum seekers whose number has been declining, the daily Pravo wrote on Monday. According to an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, the number of applicants has dropped by half since the Czech Republic's EU entry, and the capacity of refugees' homes now exceeds the demand. She added that the final decision as to which asylum centres will be closed down will be made in several weeks. Almost 5,500 foreigners applied for asylum in the Czech Republic last year, the lowest number since 1999 and 52 percent fewer than in the previous year. Ukrainians and Russians prevailed among the asylum seekers. Over 77,000 people applied for asylum in the Czech Republic in the past 14 years, and it was granted to 2,500 of them.

  • 08/15/2005

    The former Jewish ghetto Terezin or Theresienstadt north of Prague may become a vast European memorial to the Holocaust, as outlined in plans unveiled on Monday by the regional authorities. The head of the regional council Jiri Sulc, said he was impressed with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, adding that it was unfortunate that there was not a similar memorial in Europe which was so greatly affected by the Holocaust. Under Nazi occupation the former Czech military town of Terezin became a holding ghetto through which nearly 140,000 Jews passed during World War II. Some 87,000 of them were sent on to the death camps in Poland while nearly 35,000 died in the Czech ghetto, primarily because of deplorable health and sanitation conditions.

  • 08/15/2005

    The Czech Agricultural Association has announced that this year's gross agricultural output will be the lowest in the last 15 years. The association estimates the output at 67 billion crowns (2.8 billion dollars) down 10 billion crowns from last year. The fall has been mainly caused by shrinking animal production. According to the Czech Statistics Office data, beef production decreased by over 20 percent to almost 40,000 tonnes and pork production dropped by 16.2 percent to 168,000 tonnes in the first six months of 2005. The association said the Czech Republic was no longer self-sufficient in the production of pork meat, and will soon not be self-sufficient in beef production. There is a surplus of milk, but only because of low domestic consumption, the Agricultural Association noted.

  • 08/14/2005

    A Cypriot airliner carrying 121 people crashed north of Athens on Sunday. The plane, which was bound for Prague, went down just minutes before it was due to make a scheduled stop-over in Athens. The accident happened over mountainous terrain and the Greek authorities have said there are no reports of survivors. There have been conflicting reports about the nationalities of those on board. A Cypriot official said the majority of passangers were Greek Cypriots. According to available information there were no Czech nationals on board. An earlier report according to which there were 80 Greek children aboard the plane has been ruled out.

    The Greek authorities have said the accident was most likely caused by a sudden failure of the air conditioning system and resulting loss of pressure and oxygen in the cabin as a result of which the pilots lost consciousness. An investigation is underway.

    The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and President Vaclav Klaus have sent condolences and extended their sympathy to the victims' families and friends. The Czech foreign ministry and Ruzyne Airport had prepared to deal with a potential crisis, setting up hotlines and having psychologists on stand-by at the airport in case relatives and friends of people bound for Prague had need of them. According to available information their services were not required.

  • 08/14/2005

    The world athletics governing body IAAF has announced it will not take any action against Czech decathletes Roman Sebrle and Tomas Dvorak over glucose injections they were given during the World Championship in Helsinki. The IAAF said in a statement that "a full investigation into alleged intravenous infusions by the athletes had been completed and it had been agreed that no further action would be taken". It was ascertained that the glucose injections were administered for medical reasons by the team doctor after the athletes complained they were dehydrated. This was allegedly performed in front of ten witnesses. While glucose is not a banned substance, injections are only allowed during competition for "legitimate and acute medical reasons".

  • 08/14/2005

    The police have filed charges against the organizer of the CzechTek techno party Vaclav Sroub for damaging private property. The police used water canons and tear gas to disperse a crowd of some 5,000 participants on the grounds that they were trespassing on private land. Dozens of people were injured during the police action. Sroub had rented a meadow for the party but there is some controversy as to whether the size of the given plot of land was adequate for such a large gathering.

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