The Israeli daily Haaretz reports that the Czech Republic is one of five Western states that plans to vote against the recognition of Palestine as a member state of the UN in October’s General Assembly. Citing a source within the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the paper’s website writes that the United States, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have all promised to reject the proposal. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to request membership on September 20 and Israeli expects more than two-thirds of the assembly to approve it; however the request must then go to the Security Council, where it is likely to be vetoed by the United States. The Czech Foreign Ministry has declined to comment on the matter.
Chief of Police Petr Lessy says he expects a large number of policemen to quit the force by the end of the year, leaving it short staffed. Lessy told Czech Television on Sunday that 1,500 to 2,000 officers are likely to resign, leaving around 1,300 less employees than analyses show as the minimum required. He is therefore asking the Ministry of the Interior to increase the force’s salary budget and plans to begin recruiting again. According to Lessy, most of those expected to resign are experienced officers with 15 years of experience or more who are unhappy with this year’s lowering of wage tariffs by 10%. He said that more than 700 policemen had left the force in the first seven months of the year.
The Rumburk area of Northern Bohemia has been calm since Friday’s demonstrations, despite threats from extremist groups. Police say they are maintaining a state of readiness though there have been no further demonstrations. An open letter to Prime Minister Nečas was sent on behalf of the local Roma community warning that the radicalisation of the public is limiting personal freedom and threatening their well-being and property. The civic association Romea reports that one family left Rumburk after their neighbours threatened to kill them. Tensions between the Czech and Roma communities have been high in recent weeks amid two, apparently racially-motivated attacks carried out by Roma in the area. A demonstration of some 1,500 locals on Friday ended in an unauthorised march through a Roma ghetto where some property was destroyed.
The film Lidice has been selected to compete in the European Film Awards. A total of 40 motion pictures were selected for the 24th annual competition this December. The period film directed by Petr Nikolaev was viewed by 400,000 viewers in Czech cinemas and was produced for 70,000 crowns. It tells the story of the annihilation of the village and inhabitants of Lidice by the Nazis in retaliation for the assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. 340 civilians were then murdered, either by execution or in camps.
Scores of Czech tourists have returned home after being stranded in Turkey after the Vivamonde tourist agency went bankrupt on Friday. According to the insurance company Generali, 131 Czech tourists were brought back on a special flight, both clients of Vivamonde and others who were unable to return home on Friday due to the closure. Another 172 Vivamonde customers are currently in Turkey where the insurance company has provided them with accommodation and will soon announce the date of their return.
Judo wrestler Lukáš Krpálek has won the bronze medal at the world championships in Paris. Krpálek defeated Belgian Elco van der Geest in the men's 100 kg, thereby winning a place on the world top 10 list. The medal marks the biggest success for a Czech judoka since 1999, when Michaela Vernerová also took third place in the women’s competition. The last victory for a Czech in the men’s competition was exactly 20 years ago when Jiří Sosna won the bronze for Czechoslovakia.
Decathlete Roman Šebrle finished thirteenth place in the World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea, with 8069 points. The 38-year-old Olympic gold medallist had been hoping for at least 8200 points in order to participate in the 2012 London games, after which he intended to retire. American Trey Hardee retained his title in the event with 8607 points. Elsewhere, pole-vaulter Jiřina Ptáčníková advanced to the final round with a successful 455 cm jump on the first attempt.
A demonstration highlighting recent unrest between Roma and Czech communities in the North Bohemian town of Rumburk on Friday evening ended in an unauthorised march through a Roma ghetto. Five people were arrested after sticks were thrown at windows and a fence was destroyed. The demonstration was attended by some 1,500 people protesting a recent rise in violent crime in the area perpetrated by newly arriving Roma. The crowd was prevented from approaching individual residential buildings by riot police. Czech Television reported that the buildings were mostly empty as their residents had left in anticipation of the demonstrations. The current unrest was sparked by a local incident last weekend in which six young people were attacked by 20 Roma; seven people were charged with riotous conduct and grievous bodily harm with a racial motive.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has warned Czech agriculturalists against exporting raw goods, which return to the country as finished foodstuffs. Speaking at a major agricultural fair in the South Bohemian city of České Budějovice, the prime minister warned that the country was surrendering added value under such circumstances and said that Czech agriculture workers must seek to integrate themselves more with the food industry. He also agreed with President Klaus’ message to the fair on Thursday that Czech farmers are overly dependent on grant money, the state and on politicians, which he said was the result of the relatively low productivity of Czech agriculture, which meets only 40% of the Western European average.
Czech police have detained a well-known Prague physician who former assistants have accused of sexual violence. Jaroslav Barták was arrested at Ruzyně International Airport as he returned from holiday and was brought in for questioning. Police refused to say whether he would be accused. Six women have filed legal complaints against Dr Barták for sexual coercion, rape, extortion, unlawful restraint, dangerous intimidation and bodily harm. He denies the accusations, saying the women were prostitutes.
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