Ukraine on Friday expelled two Czech diplomats amidst allegations of spying. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said two staff members of the Czech military attache's office had been declared personae non gratae in the former Soviet republic. The foreign ministry said a strongly worded protest was sent to the Czech ambassador over the expelled diplomats’ use of diplomatic status to gather information that is a state secret in Ukraine. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said in reaction to the news that he believed the move was made in retaliation for Prague’s decision earlier this year to award asylum to Ukraine's former economy minister Bogdan Danylyshyn, who has been charged with abuse of power.
Former transport minister and de-facto leader of the junior Public Affairs Party Vít Bárta has apologized to President Václav Klaus for the manner in which he spoke about him on a secretly recorded tape which was leaked to the press this week. On the tape, made during an informal meeting of the party leadership, Bárta boasts of his influence over president Klaus, saying he can make him do anything he wants and that Mr. Klaus’ door is always open to him. The former president Vaclav Havel is also mentioned with Bárta saying that that particular sphere of influence is covered by former journalist and official party leader Radek John –and that the two of them together have the ear of both the present and former presidents. Mr. Bárta said on Friday he was very drunk on the given occasion and had grossly exaggerated in order to impress the party.
Both the current and former presidents have reacted to the recording. President Klaus said there was no need to respond to empty boasting, noting that he was far more concerned about the fact that a secretly recorded tape was once again an instrument in political warfare. The former head of state Václav Havel has asked not to have his name dragged through the mud in party infighting. Mr. Havel’s assistant said the former president was not in any way involved in present day politics, made no attempt to interfere in political life and that his occasional contacts with Radek John were restricted to social occasions.
Deputy prime minister Radek John has said he will hand his resignation to the prime minister in person on Tuesday. Mr. John who heads the junior coalition party Public Affairs and was to have led a newly established anti-corruption team in the Nečas government, announced earlier this week that he was leaving the cabinet because he felt a lack of support from the prime minister. The two men recently clashed over who should be on the said team. After meeting with Radek John to discuss his decision President Klaus said on Friday that he thought Mr. John could be persuaded to change his mind. Prime Minister Nečas has had to cancel most of his engagements over the past two days after undergoing eye surgery.
A judge in Teplice has served a parent a ten-month suspended sentence for publicly insulting teachers at a local primary school and ordered the offender to apologize. Teachers around the country see the verdict as an important precedent in helping to restore respect in the teaching profession. The man, who had previously been in trouble with the law, lost his temper when he was not able to enter the school building and shouted vulgarities about people in the teaching profession as children streamed out of their classrooms. The judge said that it was unacceptable for anyone to undermine the authority of teachers in this manner.
Trade union leaders are expected to make public the details of an open letter to the prime minister slamming the government’s reforms. The CTK news agency says the letter, sent on Thursday, contains harsh criticism of the government’s pension and health reform bills. It was sent ahead of a tripartite meeting between trade unions, government representatives and employers due to take place next Friday. Trade unions have repeatedly criticized the fact that they are either not consulted about far-reaching reforms or that their reservations are not taken into account. The umbrella organization of Czech and Moravian trade unions has called a protest demonstration on Prague’s Wenceslas Square a day after the tripartite meeting saying it should be regarded as a final warning before the launch of radical protest actions.
Exactly a century ago on May 13th of 1911 the first Czech aviator Jan Kašpar flew his Bleriot plane from Pardubice to Prague – at the time the longest flight ever undertaken in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A commemorative flight in a replica plane scheduled to celebrate the occasion on Friday failed to take place due to adverse weather conditions. Pilot Petr Mára said strong wind and poor visibility had made it impossible to take up the historic plane even for a symbolic circle around the town. The flight is expected to take place next week. In 1911 Kašpar flew his Bleriot at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour covering the 120 km distance from Pardubice to Prague in 1 hour and 32 minutes.
Czech hardy-man Ladislav Nicek has died at the age of 97. Mr. Nicek was a well-known figure in the Czech Republic and a strong advocate of a Spartan life-style as a recipe for health and longevity. Since the 1960s he spearheaded the tradition of winter swimming and annually took a dip in the Vltava River on January 1st together with other members of the club.
Czech GDP grew at a seasonally adjusted pace of 0.6 percent in the first quarter from output in the last three months of 2010, an official estimate showed on Friday. In the last quarter of 2010, the Czech economy, grew by 0.3 percent against the previous quarter. The annual growth pace reached 2.5 percent in the first quarter, the Czech Statistical Office said in its flash estimate. The bank said it expected annual GDP growth to slow down to 1.5 percent this year "on fiscal restriction, lower investment in inventories and slower growth in foreign economic activity," before accelerating to 2.8 percent in 2012.
A ring-tailed coati which escaped from its owner in Jičín on Thursday is home safe but has created plenty of problems for its owner. The animal ran into a pet shop where it found food. When the store owner tried to call pest control the coati bit her on the leg, and subsequently also attacked a police officer who attempted to catch it. The police are questioning the animal’s owner on suspicion of negligence.
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