The Archive of the Security Forces has released the communist-era military counter-intelligence file of a so-called “confidant” who is now one of the most senior Czech soldiers. The file of Brigadier General Miroslav Bálint, currently deputy of the Czech army’s chief of staff, was posted on the archive’s website on Friday. However the officer, who is 53, has issued a statement saying he never knowingly co-operated with the military counter-intelligence services. Similar files relating to a number of Czech MPs have recently appeared on the internet. However, the head of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes says it appears none of those listed as “confidants” actually collaborated.
The Czech minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, is going to the Olympic Games, the website novinky.cz reported. The only other Czech cabinet member going to Beijing is Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. However, there is some confusion over Mr Langer’s trip. While he says he received an invitation from the official marketing agency of the Czech Olympic Committee, the agency denies inviting the minister to the games. Mr Langer says he will pay for his fare himself and will spend a week in Beijing.
Around 360 kilogrammes of explosives were used to blow up part of the floor of the Vltava in Prague on Saturday morning. Water rose up to 20 metres from the river’s surface following the detonation, which was carried out by Svatopluk Čech Bridge, beneath the spot where a statue of Stalin once stood at Letná. The detonation was part of project to build a new mooring place for boats. The second of two such detonations is set to take place in a fortnight’s time.
Business inspectors have carried out a large-scale raid on a market in the Moravian capital Brno. Over a million crowns worth of fake branded good have been uncovered at the market on the city’s Olomoucká St in an operation involving over 200 people, including police and customs officers. Several foreign nationals were arrested in the weekend’s inspection, which uncovered a factory producing counterfeit goods. The raid – described by a business inspectorate official as the biggest for at least a year – is set to continue over the whole weekend.
The musician Michael Kocáb is going to stand for the Green Party in elections to the Senate this autumn, the newspaper Právo reported. Mr Kocáb, who leads the rock group Pražský výběr, played a leading role in the Velvet Revolution and was a Civic Forum deputy. He oversaw the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia and was an advisor to Václav Havel during Mr Havel’s presidency.
The first Czech bank is going to enable clients to manage their accounts via their television sets, the iHned.cz news website reported. Poštovní spořitelna, part of the ČSOB group, is planning to present the service to customers at its branches in the next few weeks before launching it in the autumn. However, “TV banking” will only be available to customers who already use internet banking and whose sets use the internet protocol television system, a digital service delivered over a network infrastructure such as broadband.
Tributes have been paid to the late drummer with the band Chinaski at the Sázavafest music festival in central Bohemia. Anna K, members of Monkey Business, Jan Budář and Ivan Hlas performed songs written by Pavel Grohman, who died recently in a motorbike accident. Chinaski, one of the Czech Republic’s most popular groups, had been due to play at Sázavafest on Friday evening.
The Czech football goalkeeper Jan Laštůvka is set to join the English Premier League club West Ham. Laštůvka, who is contracted to Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk, underwent a medical at West Ham on Saturday and is due to sign a one-year loan deal with the London club on Sunday. The player previously spent a season at Fulham. West Ham’s goalkeeping coach is former Czech international Luděk Mikloško and the Hammers also have young Czech goalie Marek Štěch on their books.
The final Czech troops have returned from Kosovo. On Thursday evening, three planes of Czech soldiers touched down in the Přerov-Bochoř military base in the east of the Czech Republic. Their arrival marks the end of the Czech mission in the Balkans, a spokesman for the army said. Amongst the Czech troops’ most recent duties was the monitoring of Serb demonstrations following Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February. The Czech Republic recognized Kosovo’s independence in May and two weeks ago opened up an embassy in Pristina.
Russia has renewed crude oil deliveries to the Czech Republic to their original level after a month-long drop in supplies. Russia unexpectedly cut deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline in early July by nearly 50 percent from 500,000 to less than 300,000 tons of crude. Moscow said the cut in supplies was caused by technical problems and denied that it was linked to the signing of a Czech-US treaty on the positioning of a US missile defense radar on Czech soil. The main Czech refiner Unipetrol started tapping state oil reserves and increased deliveries through the Ingolstadt pipeline to make up for the outage.