The Czech government will not comply with the European Commission’s call to revise its national strategy on inclusion of Romany citizens, the environment minister, who was filling in for Prime Minister Petr Nečas, announced in the Senate on Thursday. The Senate backed the government’s stance that its Concept for Romany Integration for the years 2010-2013 already included the demands made by the European Commission, such as improving access to education for Romany children, increasing the minority’s employment opportunities and furnishing better housing conditions for the community. The Czech Senate does not consider a joint strategy of all EU member countries an efficient solution to the current situation of the union’s Romany community. Senator Jaroslav Kubera said that while Romanies had the same opportunities as everyone else in this country, they did not know how to take advantage of them, a fact that he says they can only partially be blamed for.
A group of six police officers has been placed in custody on suspicion of corruption and violent crime. The six men were arrested by the Czech police’s organized crime squad in southern Moravia on Tuesday. Among the suspects detained were current and former employees of a police department dealing with economic crime, as well as a high-ranking police official from Brno and a former inspection officer of the Interior Ministry. They face prison sentences between five to 12 years. According to the news website Lidovky.cz, the group covered up major cases of economic crime in return for large sums of money. More arrests are expected to take place in the next few days. In view of the ongoing investigation, further details have not been disclosed.
Simona Monyová, a prolific author of Czech-language women’s literature, was murdered, the website of the daily Právo writes on Thursday. The daily reports that it was most likely her husband who stabbed her in their house in a suburb of Brno, and he had also been injured himself in the incident. He is currently being treated in hospital and could face a prison sentence of up to 18 years. A police spokeswoman confirmed that the 44-year-old author had succumbed to her injuries. Police are investigating the case.
About a quarter of the Šumava National Park may become off-limits to any human intervention, Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa said on Thursday at a Czech Senate debate. He is currently preparing a new piece of legislation that will introduce a set of national park regulations. The minister is set to discuss it with environmental experts and regional authorities’ representatives on August 25. However, environmental experts, who have been protesting a recent motion of the park management to fell hundreds of bark-beetle infested trees, say that at least 30 percent of the park should be declared an off-limits zone. Plzeň’s regional authorities have suggested that 18 percent of the park be made a no-intervention area. The environment minister has called on both sides to compromise.
The standoff between loggers and environmentalists trying to prevent the felling of bark beetle-infested trees in the Šumava National Park continued on Thursday. Several dozen activists are holding a blockade and trying to hinder the work of tree loggers. Some 50 tree loggers as well as police are at the site. The environmental activists have filed another complaint against the park management, which is planning to fell hundreds of trees to prevent the spread of the bark beetle. They believe the trees should be left to decay naturally and have been trying to prevent logging in the area since July 15. Meanwhile, around 100 locals gathered in the area on Wednesday to protest against the environmentalists and to show support for the park’s management.
Members of the Czech Police’s Emergency Response team on Thursday held a practice anti-terrorism run at Prague’s Motol hospital. Some 40 police officers landed on the roof of the hospital in a helicopter before dealing with a simulated hostage situation in the children’s ward. Several dozen members of the hospital staff participated in the dry run, which lasted about 45 minutes. The head of the response team said that the practice run was a success and that he was grateful his unit was able to hold it in the hospital, which he said was a very busy and complicated location for such operations.
The 11th outdoor music festival Sázavafest kicks off on Thursday afternoon. Some 120 acts both from the Czech Republic and abroad will be performing at the four-day festival, including Basta Fidel, Sto žvířat, the British band Hurts and the German group Alphaville. For the first time this year, the festival is held in the Central Bohemian town of Benešov. Organizers said that the previous site of the festival, the town of Kácov near the river Sázava, was not safe, since two of the five stages had to be shut down last year after the river flooded.
According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, Czechs are relatively optimistic as far as the financial and economic future of the European Union is concerned. The poll reveals that while 47 percent of respondents across Europe believe that the worst consequences of the financial crisis for the labor market are yet to come, 43 percent by contrast think that the worst has passed. In the Czech Republic, this figure was even higher – some 52 percent of Czechs polled said they believe that the worst of the financial crisis has passed. Among those countries that were similarly or even more optimistic are the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden. By contrast, only 15 percent of Portuguese and 19 percent of Greek respondents believe that the worst period of the crisis is behind us.
An eighteen-year-old student from Prague, Tran Thi Thuy Linh, took home the Czech Miss Vietnam 2011 award on Wednesday evening. Seven finalists competed for the prize, which organizers say aims to promote the culture of the Vietnamese minority and help integrate it. Tran Thi Thuy Linh is set to travel to Berlin on Saturday, where she will represent the Czech Republic in the Miss Vietnam in Europe competition.
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