Moscow is reported to have expelled two Czech diplomats in retaliation for
the expulsion of two officials at the Russian embassy in Prague on
suspicion of spying. The decision to expel them was based on information
received from the Czech intelligence services, the news website novinky.cz
reported. TV Nova said the two Russian diplomats had been expelled on
Monday after attempting to establish contact with staff at the Czech
defence ministry; it reported that they were particularly interested in the
Czech army and US plans to build a radar base in central Bohemia.
On Tuesday Interfax reported that Russia had retaliated in kind and ordered two diplomats from the Czech embassy in Moscow to leave. The news agency quoted a Russian official as saying Prague’s unfriendly step had not gone unanswered.
Relations between the Czech Republic and Russia cooled over the former’s plans to host a US radar base that would be part of a global anti-missile defence system and Prague’s support for Georgia during last August’s war.
The minister of justice, Daniela Kovářová, is reopening a case of alleged corruption involving a former deputy prime minister, Jiří Čunek. Mr Čunek, who was a member of the last Czech government, was accused of accepting a bribe from a real estate company while mayor of a town in Moravia. However, a state attorney shelved the matter, saying no crime had been committed. Minister Kovářová said the Czech justice system had been seriously harmed by the case, adding that she now wanted to do all she could to repair the damage to its reputation. For his part, Mr Čunek said he welcomed the minister’s decision to send a complaint about the handling of his case to the Supreme Court. The former Christian Democrats leader came to national prominence after expelling Romany rent-defaulters from the centre of the town of Vsetín and was dogged by controversy while in high office.
Minister Kovářová does have the right to hire and fire people at the justice ministry, she said after talks with Prime Minister Jan Fischer on Tuesday. She had requested the meeting after the prime minister wrote her a letter last month saying that interim governments had a limited mandate and that he was disquieted by the number of personnel changes being made at the ministry of justice. Daniela Kovářová said she did not know what had led Mr Fischer to change his opinion on the matter.
The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, is due to hold talks with senior officials in Kosovo on Wednesday. Bilateral relations and Czech support for the development of Kosovo will be on the agenda when Mr Fischer meets the country’s president, Fatmir Sejdiu, and prime minister, Hashim Thaci. The Czech Republic recognised Kosovo in May 2008, three months after it broke away from Serbia.
The Czech government has approved a European Union directive governing product placement in films and television serials. Under the regulations, it would have to be made clear in film or serial credits that particular products were being promoted, though such product placement would not be allowed in programmes for children. The Czech lower house is expected to vote on the matter in the next couple of months.
Sales of the partially fermented grape juice known as burčák have begun at wine bars and roadside stands in south Moravia. However, some experts say much of the burčák being sold is not the genuine article as it may have been made from imported grapes. According to Czech regulations, the name burčák can only be used when the drink is made from grapes grown in this country.
Services on the Prague to České Budějovice line were interrupted for around eight hours on Tuesday after a train was derailed. It is not yet clear why a train went off the tracks between Benešov and Tábor, though a broken rail has not been ruled out. Trains later slowed down at the spot where the derailing occurred as a precaution, a spokesperson for Czech Railways said.
The Czech football player Roman Bednář has been fined by West Bromwich Albion for buying marijuana and cocaine. Bednář, who is 26, was photographed buying the drugs by a UK tabloid newspaper near the end of the 2008-2009 season. He was suspended by the club and also received a retrospective three-month ban from England’s Football Association. The striker has three international caps.
The government plans to submit a new petition to the Supreme Administrative Court asking it to outlaw the far-right Workers’ Party. Interior Minister Martin Pecina told reporters on Monday that the government should discuss the petition in two weeks time and submit it to the court in September. The Czech government first tried to have the Workers’ Party dismissed last year over its links to far-right groups, such as the National Resistance movement. The Supreme Administrative Court rejected the government’s petition in March saying the cabinet had not provided sufficient grounds for a ban.
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