The opposition Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek has dismissed media reports which suggest that he has ties to the Czech underworld. The allegations come as speculation intensifies over the precise content of a detailed 11,000 page police report into connections between mafia members, Czech politicians and civil servants. The document, called “Krakatice” represents a police investigation that has gone on for a number of years, focusing in particular on the murdered mobster František Mrázek. Intense speculation has surrounded the report, with confirmations that rebel Civic Democrat MP Vlastimil Tlustý, Interior Minister Ivan Langer and even Czech President Václav Klaus appear in its pages. The latest allegation surrounding the Social Democrat head is the suggestion that František Mrázek was to attempt to seek Mr Paroubek’s help in a business deal – something which Mr Paroubek dismissed, with current reports acknowledging no evidence to support an active connection between the two men. Mr Paroubek also demanded that the “Krakatice” report be made public.
The Czech Republic has added its signature to a multilateral treaty designed to protect tropical forests from felling across the world. The treaty, known as the International Tropical Timber Agreement was signed by Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg at a session of the UN General Assembly in New York. If the treaty is ratified by the Czech Parliament, the country will become a member of the Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) which promotes sustainable logging, poverty reduction and conservation.
Josef Souček, a major-general who fought against the Nazis on the Western Front has died in Brazil, aged 91. Mr Souček was born in 1917 in Salzburg, Austria and moved to Czechoslovakia shortly after its founding a year later. In 1940, he fled to France, where he joined Czech forces in exile fighting against the Nazis, eventually moving to Britain and ending the war fighting in Dunkerque. Josef Souček was awarded for his gallantry after the war ended, although after the 1948 communist putsch, he emigrated to Britain before moving to Brazil. He was decorated numerous times for his service in Czechoslovakia, France, Britain and Brazil.
The Prague branch of the ruling Civic Democratic Party has passed a motion calling on Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek to stop his “insulting and unfounded attacks” on their organization. The leaked document also promised unity and support for the prime minister through upcoming elections. Prague’s Civic Democrats were apparently upset following a television interview in which the Prime Minister accused Civic Democrat Prague Mayor Pavel Bém and rebel MP Vlastimil Tlustý of trying to torpedo his cabinet. He had also stated that the unhealthy connections between politics and business are stronger in Prague than elsewhere. This latest move underscores increasing infighting among the Civic Democrats, with some viewing Mayor Pavel Bém as positioning himself to take over the party from Mr Topolánek.
A planned protest by members of the right-wing National Party in Brno has fizzled out. The party had planned to protest in front of a mosque, in order to demonstrate against what they view as excessive Muslim influence and to seek an apology for the recent death of the Czech ambassador to Pakistan. In the end, around seven party members entered the mosque, leaving shortly after stating that they had indeed received the apology they were seeking. The entire protest was over. However, representatives from the mosque denied that any apology had been issued, stating that they had nothing to apologise for since they had nothing whatsoever to do with the recent terrorist attacks in Islamabad.
The Czech Transport Ministry has cancelled a one million crown fine against the transit authority in Ostrava. The fine was levelled for a collision between two trams going in opposite directions on a single track earlier this year, which resulted in three deaths. The reasons for the cancellation were given as procedural errors, meaning that the entire matter will have to be investigated again. The Ostrava authorities recently successfully appealed against a 200,000 crown fine levied for a separate incident.
Russian businessman Jevgenij Dogajev, who is accused of threatening to hijack a plane ove Prague in 2006 has disappeared, according to Czech police. Mr Dogajev was due to be handed over to the Russian authorities and was expected to seek asylum in a European country. He was expected to turn up at Prague’s Ruzyně airport Wednesday to be flown to Russia, but police soon stated that he had failed to show up, meaning a default on his two million crown bail money.
The German authorities have agreed to loan the original Munich Agreement text to the Czech Republic. The document, which formalised the annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudeten regions to Nazi Germany in 1938 will be displayed at the Czech National Museum in Prague. Previously, the Czech Republic had been given a copy of the document, to be permanently displayed in the Czech Senate, but after some negotiation, the Czech authorities managed to persuade their German counterparts to part with the original.
A new STEM poll suggests that an increasing number of people are happy with the situation in their region and believe that it is improving. The poll comes in the wake of local elections to be held in mid-October. According to the poll, 47% of people believe that the situation in their region has improved in the last eight years – four years ago, the figure was a mere 30%. The numbers of those who responded that they felt the situation in their region was getting worse has fallen meanwhile, from 17% to 16%.
The Czech Film Academy has nominated the Petr Zenenka helmed film Karamazovi – an adaptation of Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic novel to vie for the 2009 US Oscars. This does not automatically mean that the film will be officially nominated at the Oscars – instead academy members will now evaluate the film before announcing the final Oscar nominees in January. The Czech Republic has not won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film since 1996’s Kolya.
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