European Union leaders wound up a two day summit in Warsaw on Friday with
a clear message to countries in the Eastern Partnership programme that
respect for the principles of democracy was a prerequisite to financial aid
and closer integration. EU leaders told Belarus it could count on their
financial help in fighting its economic crisis if it freed political
prisoners and held free elections. A similar signal was given to Ukraine
which has come under fire for persecuting its political opposition.
The "Eastern Partnership" programme, strongly championed by Prague during the country’s EU presidency, offers six former Soviet satellites up to 1.9 billion euro in 2010-13 to fight corruption, build up infrastructure and start other projects. Critics say the programme gives the bloc little real ability to persuade the eastern countries to reform their economies and protect human rights because it provides no prospect of eventual EU membership.
The Vatican has issued a formal protest against “abuse of its embassy premises in Prague” for the shooting of a historical-erotic movie. It has emerged that a politically well-connected Czech doctor, who now faces rape charges, organized and starred in the shooting of a historic porn film at the Vatican’s embassy in Prague. Jaroslav Bartak who has been accused of sexually abusing up to 12 of his assistants, is said to have played the role of a randy cardinal in the unfinished film. He reportedly arranged access to the embassy for the whole crew. Monika Vývodová, a spokeswoman for the Czech Bishop’s Conference and the Vatican Embassy, said the Czech doctor had gained access to the historic building under false pretences.
Nuclear safety experts say the radioactive object found buried in a Prague playground this week did not pose a significant risk to human health. Experts studying the object say it appears to have been a radium tube, something akin to a radium needle used in medicine. The object is likely to have been buried in the ground for several decades, most likely from the first half of the 20th century. The object was uncovered thanks to a man wearing a wristwatch with a radiation measuring device who raised the alarm.
Ex-president Vaclav Havel who has been recuperating from a chest infection at his country house is due back in Prague for celebrations of his 75th birthday. Mr. Havel is said to be feeling stronger after several months in the country and is due to attend a birthday bash thrown by his close friends this Saturday. There are roumours that the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, a close friend of Mr. Havel’s, will be among the guests of honour.
Anti-Romany demonstrators from the north of the country are preparing to take their grievances to Prague in a renewed call for action. Protesters from Varnsdorf and other towns in the region are to gather on Prague’s Palacky square on Saturday to draw attention to their problems: a deteriorating security situation and rising crime for which they blame the Romany minority. The inhabitants of Varnsdorf have repeatedly called on the town council to resign for failing to deal with the crisis. The Roma minority from the area is planning its own demonstration in Prague against discrimination and social exclusion.
The Czech Statistical Office on Friday upped its calculation both of the country’s GDP and the public deficit for 2010. The office added an extra 107.8 billion crowns to the country’s Gross Domestic Production bringing the figure to 3,775.2 billion. The revision means that the Czech economy grew by 2.7 percent last year as compared to the originally posted 2.3 percent. The statistical office also revised last year’s public finance deficit to 182.7 billion crowns. This translates into a debt ratio of 4.84 percent of debt compared with GDP as opposed to an earlier 4.71 percent.
The police have brought charges against a 42-year-old woman from Ostrava for physically and psychologically abusing her four sons. They boys aged between six and sixteen were severely beaten on a daily basis, in once case the mother is reported to have beaten one of the younger children until he lost consciousness and left him lying on the floor. The children were not allowed friends, toys or books and all are reported to be suffering from child abuse and neglect syndrome. If convicted the mother faces up to 8 years in prison.
Police are still searching for the deputy mayor of Brno-Zidenice Ales Vytopil who disappeared without trace three weeks ago. The 36-year-old was last seen at a local restaurant he frequented where he arrived alone. The police have asked the public for any information which could throw more light on the case.
A tram driver is in hospital with head injuries after getting attacked by an aggressive passenger early on Friday. The driver of the Prague tram had reached the terminal stop and went to ask the only passenger left on the tram to get off. The man was asleep and on being shaken awake he brutally assaulted the driver, toppling him to the ground where he repeatedly kicked and punched him in the head. The man is likely to be charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm. He is believed to have been drunk at the time.
According to police statistics released on Friday the road death toll in September is slightly lower than in the previous year and the number of accidents in also down, a development attributed to an intensive road safety campaign at the start and end of the summer holidays. Sixty-one people were killed on Czech roads this month and there were over 6,200 accidents.
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