Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra has suggested that the number of Czech soldiers serving in Kosovo could be reduced under plans he will present to the government, while the number serving on the ISAF mission in Afghanistan would be bolstered. He made the statement on Friday after meeting with Czech President Václav Klaus, making clear soldiers were no longer as needed in Kosovo. The Czech Republic has around 500 personnel there and the number could be reduced by around 50. The defence minister made clear that Afghanistan would remain an important priority for the next three years. NATO has asked for an increase in military and police units there to train local security. The Czech Republic has around 530 personnel in the Islamic republic.
The Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes has reported that the former head of the National Technical Museum in Prague, Horymír Kubíček, secured under mysterious circumstances an open-ended lease to a luxury state-owned apartment shortly before his dismissal in August. The newspaper writes that the matter was discovered in an audit ordered by Culture Minister Jiří Besser. Auditors have declined to comment the findings so far, as has Mr Kubíček. The former National Technical Museum head was recalled from his post last month over financial impropriety. As museum head, he rented the 112 square metre apartment for 4,000 crowns a month, the newspaper said – a location that would normally go for around ten times that amount. Shortly after he was recalled, his original contract is said to have disappeared, and was replaced by a copy with addenda placing the property in Mr Kubíček’s name indefinitely. Under existing legislation, if the museum tried to evict him now it would have to provide him with a residence of equal value elsewhere.
Czech Railways has been fined 4.5 million crowns over the first six months of the year for dirty conditions in trains, the news website denik.cz reported on Friday. The Czech Rail Safety Inspectorate fined the state-owned carrier nearly one million crowns; the rest were penalties imposed by the Transport Ministry. Czech Railways was only fined for the state of express train passenger cars subsidised by the state; additional penalties were handed out by regions. A Czech Railways spokesman said that more than half of the problems for which the firm was fined were caused by vandalism.
The head of the Czech police, Oldřich Martinů, will have to lay off 30 percent of employees at the police presidium by the end of the year, Právo reported on Friday, meaning jobs lost for some 600 people. The police president, the daily said was told this week by Interior Minister Radek John to take the step. The police head will have ten days to decide which employees to let go. The interior minister Radek John also told Právo that while the layoffs were a radical measure, they were necessary as funds for basic items were needed elsewhere. Originally, it was planned that around 20 percent of employees there would be let go.
The joint-stock company Borgis, the publisher of the Czech newspaper Právo, suffered financial losses last year of 53.3 million crowns, a year after posting profits of 73.6 million after tax, it has revealed in its annual report. The publisher attributed the negative numbers to the financial crisis. Despite the worsening results in 2009, the company hopes to recoup its losses, while cutting down on expenses. Borgis publishes not only Právo but also - together with internet website Seznam - runs the sister internet site novinky.cz; the majority shareholder in the firm is Právo’s editor-in-chief Zdeněk Porybný.
Car sales in the Czech Republic fell by 0.7 percent in August, after sales had increased by 6.6 percent overall over the first eight months of 2010. The figures were released on Friday by the Czech Republic’s Car Importers Association, which said that a total of more than 112,000 new cars were registered during that period. According to the association, car sales have stabilised after a 20 percent drop in July.
Police in the town of Šumperk detained three people in suspicion of murdering a homeless man in the area found dead on Thursday. A spokesman for Olomouc’s regional police said the man had been succumbed to injuries from a severe beating. Police are investigating the exact circumstances. It is the second similar such incident this year, after a homeless man was found dead in February outside a local shopping centre. Police in June charged an 18-year-old with murderer in connection with that case.
The police uncovered a methamphetamine lab in the Jihlava area, east Bohemia that had been producing the Czech version known as pervetin for at least one year. Two men were arrested during a search in which related production equipment was found; both have since been charged and if found guilty could each face up to five years in prison. The duo – aged 33 and 26 - are thought to have produced a new batch of the drug at least once every two weeks.
The Summer Shakespeare Festival – held annually at Prague Castle and other areas in the Czech Republic and also neighbouring Slovakia – is wrapping up. 78,000 theatre-goers visited this year, seeing 142 evening performances in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, and Bratislava. A performance of King Henry IV at Prague Castle on Saturday will conclude this year’s cycle. Other Shakespeare plays performed this year included The Merry Wives of Windsor, Macbeth and Measure for Measure. During the season, poor weather saw the cancellation of six outdoor performances. Despite 13 fewer show this year, attendance rose by 1,000 from 2009.
Italian football club Udine’s Czech goalkeeper Zdeněk Zlámal appears set to join Czech football club Slavia on loan until the end of the season, Slavia’s spokesman has said. Both clubs have been negotiating on the matter and are reportedly close to a deal. The result should be known next week. Zlámal, the former goalkeeper for the Under-21 squad, could boost Slavia at the back, given that the regular minder, Martin Vaniak has not returned to 100 percent health, while his replacement, Finn Ansii Jaakkola, has been less than solid between the posts, making a key mistake in a recent match against Olomouc.
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