The commander of NATO forces in Europe John Craddock has complained that Czech helicopters have not yet been deployed in Afghanistan. In an interview for the Financial Times on Monday, General Craddock said that allied nations were not keeping their obligations to send additional troops to Afghanistan. He also complained about insufficient funding of NATO operations in the country and specifically mentioned Czech helicopters which could not be moved to Afghanistan due to a lack of finances. According to the general the situation in Afghanistan is very explosive, with more allied soldiers dying there than in Iraq for the first time. The Czech Republic currently has around 300 troops on four missions in Afghanistan.
In related news, the Chief of the Czech Army’s General Staff Vlastimil Picek warned against a planned purchase of three Spanish-made CASA transport planes, the weekly Euro reported on Monday. General Picek has written to Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová over the issue, citing technical objections against the CASA C-295M tactical transport aircraft. The plane cannot fly from the Czech Republic to Afghanistan without a stopover, which means it cannot be used for the evacuation of wounded Czech soldiers. The aircraft is not capable of transporting any track or wheel vehicles used by the Czech Army on its foreign missions.
Alleged Irish paedophile Patrick Brunnel, who is suspected of sexually abusing several children in the UK, can be extradited to British authorities, a court in Prague ruled on Monday. The 21-year-old is accused of 16 crimes connected with sexual abuse of children in the UK between 2003 and 2006. If convicted, he could face a life sentence. The man was arrested in the Czech Republic in mid July, after two years of living in Prague. He apparently committed no crimes while living in the Czech capital.
Czechs are more likely to only use mobile telephones than any other nation in the EU, the daily Lidové Noviny reported on Monday, referring to a study by the German Bittcom association. The survey reveals that 64 percent of Czech households exclusively use cell phones and not land lines. Czechs are followed by Finns (61 percent), Lithuanians (53 percent) and Hungarians (50 percent). One of the reasons for the high prevalence of cell phone users might be the fact that land lines were difficult to get during communism and people went straight to cell phones once they became available.
The prices of petrol and diesel in the Czech Republic have dropped, the petrol merchant CCS said on Monday. The price of petrol dropped by 26 hallers to 32.21 crowns, or 2.14 US dollars per litre while the price of diesel decreased by 29 hallers to 34.44 crowns, or 2.29 US dollars per litre. Experts say that the strong Czech crown as well as lowering prices of fuel will make prices at Czech petrol stations keep decreasing in the coming weeks as well.
Serbian Ambassador to the Czech Republic Vladimir Vereš, who was withdrawn for consultations to Belgrade in May following the recognition of Kosovo by the Czech Republic, will return to Prague by the end of August. The Serbian Embassy in Prague said on Monday that no exact date was set. Serbian officials announced last that their envoys to EU countries which recognized independent Kosovo would soon resume their positions.
The Czech publisher Mladá Fronta denied on Sunday any interest in buying a majority share in Economia, a rival publisher which publishes the respected daily Hospodářské noviny. Mladá Fronta also denied that they were backed by Russian capital. The Economia publishing house, owned by Germany’s Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt, is on sale and Mladá Fronta was considered a top candidate for the deal. The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that Russian capital could be behind Mladá Fronta and the deal could lead to the “Ukrainization” of the Czech media environment.
Last week saw the highest number of casualties caused by traffic accidents this year with 29 people killed on Czech roads. The worst days of last week were Tuesday and Thursday, both with eight fatal accidents. One of the people killed on Thursday was the drummer for a Czech rock band Chinaski, whose motorcycle crashed into a car. Almost 3000 accidents happened in the Czech Republic between 21st and 28th July.
Czech TV turned off the analogue station ČT2 in the Plzeň region on Monday and its signal will be only transmitted digitally from now on. A Czech TV spokesperson said the transition was smooth and no difficulties were encountered. Czech TV started the transition from analogue to digital signal in 2000; the analogue signal in the Czech Republic is expected to go off air completely by 2011.
The film Venkovský učitel by Bohdan Sláma, known also as Country Teacher in English, will have its international premiere at the 65th Venice International Film Festival in the section Venice Days. The film, which was premiered in March in the Czech Republic, has already been sold to distributors in France, Poland and Germany. Actor Pavel Liška, who portrayed a disillusioned teacher who goes to live in the country, will also appear in another film competing in the Venice Days section of the festival – the Finnish movie The Visitor.