The Communist Party leadership is reportedly considering the option that party members hand-in “blank” ballots in next year’s presidential election. The idea was discussed by the party’s executive committee on Friday although no final resolution was taken. Some members of the party expressed opposition to the idea and it will be discussed by the party again in the near future. So far, the only candidate in the election next year is incumbent Vaclav Klaus; but economist Jan Svejnar has been proposed as a potential challenger by both the Green Party and the Social Democrats. If communist representatives were to spoil their ballots, it would make it likely Vaclav Klaus would be the only candidate to make it to the second round.
The health ministry issued a warning over children’s toothpastes on Friday after it was found that several brands manufactured in China contained diethylenglycol, which can affect the kidneys or nervous system. The news was revealed by Prague’s chief hygiene officer Michal Vit. Experts found the substance in 60 gram tubes of Vecernicek (tuti-fruti), Ferda (apple), and Ferda (strawberry). The company importing the product will refund consumers who bought the items. Any of the products remaining on the shelves have been ordered to be removed immediately .
Acting Education Minister Martin Bursik has revealed that a Czech operational programme aimed at drawing EU funds for support in the field of science in the country, will be approved by the European Commission by next March. That date has been set as the latest, with Mr Busik saying that the schedule had been agreed by Brussels. The operational programme will make the Czech Republic eligible for 70 billion crowns (the equivalent of roughly 3.8 billion US dollars) in EU subsidies. Delays in the programme’s implementation forced Mr Bursik’s fellow Green Party member Dana Kuchtova to step down as education minister in October. Mr Bursik, the minister for the environment, stepped in for the interim, before a suitable successor can be found.
The Canadian daily the Toronto Star has reported that Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Jiri Tlusty was mortified after revealing photos of him made their way onto the internet. On Tuesday it came to light that the photos of the 19-year-old player – the Leafs’ 13th overall draft pick for 2006 – had been posted on some pages. Tlusty has since spoken about the incident with reporters, explaining the pictures were taken by cell phone last year and posted privately on Facebook for a female friend he had met over the internet. The player, who has gotten off to a good start with Toronto this season, said he now hoped to put the incident behind him, to focus on the game.
Czech police have decided to shelve their investigation into the so-called “theft of the century” – an unsolved case from 2002 in which an armoured security vehicle in Prague 6 was hit for 153 million crowns (the equivalent of around 8.3 million US dollars). Although the formal investigation will be complete, police will still operatively search for clues in the case. In the heist, three accomplices - armed with weapons including explosives - stopped a Securitas truck on Prague’s Evropska Street and were able to get into the vehicle. No one was hurt in the incident.
The decision by the United States Congress to reduce funding for a proposed missile defence shield in Europe (including a radar base in the Czech Republic) could complicate bilateral relations, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said in Washington on Thursday. Czech and US representatives are currently negotiating on the base. Mr Vondra said the US radar base on Czech territory was in his country’s interest, and expressed the view that the project would go ahead. The Czech Parliament is set to vote on the matter next year.
The head of the Czech counter-intelligence service (the BIS) Jiri Lang was not responsible for the leak of sensitive information from the organisation three years ago. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek (of the Civic Democrats), and the chairman of the lower house committee monitoring BIS activities, Jeronym Tejc (of the Social Democrats), made the announcement on Friday after a committee hearing. The BIS recently admitted that a former employee stole data from the service three years ago. The former officer allegedly tried to sell the information, which was three years old at the time, on to another party, but the illicit deal is said to have fallen through. According to the BIS, although classified information was at risk, damage was not done: some experts hold a differing opinion. The classified information is believed to have pertained to privatisation and tenders.
Injured boxer Lukas Konecny (29) will be unable to compete in the World Boxing Organisation’s World Championship title fight in the JR (or light) middleweight category. The fight – against current champion Sergiy Dzinziruk of Ukraine - was scheduled for the end of November. Konecny suffered a rib injury in training and will be unable to return to the ring before December. The boxer expressed the hope that the fight will be postponed until early next year.
Most Czechs do not think the country has sufficiently come to terms with
those who collaborated with the communist-era secret police, the StB, a
poll conducted by the Median agency suggests. The results were published
Lidove noviny on Friday. Fifty-four percent of respondents hold the view
that Czechs have not come to terms, while 16 percent say the opposite. As
for lustration, roughly a third of those polled said it should remain in
place, a third said it had served its purpose. Under the lustration, or
screening law, those who wish to hold public positions must prove they
not collaborate with the StB.
The new opinion poll was published on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution.
Football clubs in England, Germany and Spain are interested in signing the
Czech striker Milan Baros, his agent Pavel Paska told reporters. Baros is
not a regular first team player for France’s Olympic Lyon and could leave
the club during the transfer window in January. The 26-year-old had spells
at Liverpool and Aston Villa before joining Lyon at the beginning of this
Baros is currently in Prague with the rest of the Czech squad, preparing for a European Championship qualifying game against Slovakia. The Czechs have already reached Euro 2008.