The White House has confirmed the date for the signature of a new disarmament treaty by US President Barack Obama and the Russian president, Dimitry Medvedev, that will take place in Prague, the Associated Press reported on Friday. Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev will sign a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty, which will replace the 1991 START accord, on April 8. Later on Friday, President Obama is set to issue a statement regarding details of the treaty, which is expected to cut the number of warheads to roughly 1,500 on each side. On April 5 of last year, Mr Obama outlined his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons in a keynote speech at Prague Castle.
On the occasion of an EU summit underway in Brussels, the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, informed the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, about Czech concern regarding exceedingly thorough road checks to which Czech drivers are exposed in Germany. More than a hundred Czech drivers have filed complaints against Bavarian road police, claiming that Czechs were singled out for attention and treated in a highly disrespectful manner. Chancellor Merkel promised she would look into the problem and try to seek a solution. Previously, German authorities had dismissed Czech complaints about the thorough road checks that sometimes include full body searches, citing a drop in crime statistics as a reason the controls had to continue.
Civic Democratic Party vice-chairman Petr Nečas is to lead the party to May’s general elections, after the head of the party, Mírek Topolánek, resigned as election leader on Thursday. Mr. Topolánek gave in to pressure from the party leadership to take a back-seat following a scandal over unfortunate remarks he made relating to Jews and gays. He remains head of the party, although he has been urged to consider resigning from that post as well. Petr Nečas said he was prepared to work hard to make sure that the Civic Democrats were in “high gear” throughout the election campaign. Regarding any ambition to succeed Mr Topolánek as party leader, he said only that he would at present be concentrating fully on the upcoming elections. Petr Nečas was the minister of labour and social affairs under the previous government, which was led by the Civic Democratic Party. Parliamentary elections are to take place on May 28-29.
In related news, the leader of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, said
on Friday that the Civic Democrats new election leader Petr Nečas needed
to distance himself from Mírek Topolánek as well as the party’s
campaign manager, Ivan Langr. He added that Mr. Nečas should apologize for
the failure of Mr. Topolánek’s government and remove Mr. Langr, who has
been suspected of having ties to organized crime, from his position as
campaign manager. If he fails to do so, he will prove to be a puppet of the
Civic Democrats’ leading politicians, he added.
Mr. Paroubek on Friday suggested that the two strongest parties on the Czech political scene should agree to conduct a decent election campaign. Mr. Nečas refused the offer saying it could not be taken seriously since the Social Democrats themselves do not abide by such conduct.
Jiří Pospíšil, the head of the Plzen regional branch of the Civic Democrats, said that Mírek Topolánek should resign from his post as chairman of the party as well, after having already resigned from his post as election leader. Mr. Pospíšil said he believes that to win the trust of the public, the head of the party should be its election leader and top candidate. Mr. Pospíšsil said it would be best if the Civic Democrats’ new election leader, Pavel Nečas, were to take up the post.
The Supreme Court in Prague has halved the six-year prison sentence of Ludmila Brožová-Polednová based on presidential amnesties given in previous years, the daily Právo has reported. The decision partially confirms the verdict of a district court earlier in the month, which ruled that the former communist prosecutor must be absolved of her sentence in full. Právo writes that she will now have the right to request parole next March, after a third of her sentence has been served; the court has yet to make any statement on the ruling. 88-year-old Ludmila Brožová-Polednová was imprisoned in 2009 for the judicial murder of Milada Horáková, a politician executed by the communist regime in 1950 after a show trial. She is the oldest prisoner in the Czech Republic.
Newly designated archbishop Dominik Duka, who will be inducted into office at a special church service in Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral on April 10, has said he will work to eliminate prejudice against the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic. He added that he wanted to encourage a dialogue between the Church and Czech society, which is sometimes labeled as atheist. Archbishop Duka said he did not yet have any specific projects in mind but was inspired by some open door events and exhibitions in churches across the country and wanted to bring similar happenings to Prague. The Czech Republic is one of the few European countries that does not have an official agreement with the Vatican. The lower house voted against its ratification in 2003.
Hanna Schygulla, by some considered the most important actress in contemporary German cinema, accepted the Kristián lifetime achievement award at the Prague film festival Febiofest on Thursday night. The actress, best known for her collaboration with acclaimed German director Reiner Werner Fassbinder, received the award from the minister of culture, Václav Riedlbauch, on the festival’s opening night. The ceremony was followed by a screening of The Marriage of Maria Braun, a film with Mrs. Schygulla in the lead role. Febiofest will run in Prague until April 2 and features 184 films from 57 countries.
A Czech skier, aged 28, died from injuries sustained in a skiing accident in the French town of Grenoble on Wednesday, local newspapers reported on Friday. She was brought to the Grenoble hospital on Tuesday. The woman was skiing with a group in the French Alps when she had the accident. She was reported to have suffered serious head injuries. Police are investigating the case.
Police found the dead body of a soldier in the Moravice river in the Silesia region on Friday morning. Colleagues and relatives were able to identify the body thanks to the uniform the soldier was wearing. Police are now investigating possible causes of the man’s death. The soldier, who was 36 years old, went missing in late January, allegedly after he had left his house to go for a walk.
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Traditional tourist sites open to visitors after long break
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