US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev will
sign a treaty reducing their countries’ nuclear arsenals at Prague Castle
at noon on Thursday, the Czech News Agency reported. Other details of the
summit have also been revealed. After the signing at the castle’s Spanish
Hall, the two leaders will be the guests of Czech President Václav Klaus
at a ceremonial lunch. On Thursday evening Mr Obama will attend a dinner at
the residence of the US ambassador to Prague with 11 heads of state and
government from the central and eastern European region. Before he leaves
Prague on Friday morning, the US president is also expected to hold talks
with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer and President Klaus.
The new pact builds on the 1991 START treaty and restricts both the US and Russia to about 30 percent fewer nuclear warheads than they currently possess. Thursday’s signing comes almost exactly a year after President Obama outlined his policies on nuclear weapons in a speech in front of thousands of people at Prague Castle.
Czech police say guarding the summit and surrounding meetings will be the most extensive operation carried out by the force in many years. Police chief Oldrich Martinů said it would be bigger than previous comparable events, including NATO and World Bank-IMF conferences in Prague and the Czech Republic’s presidency of the European Union last year. Around 5,000 police officers will be deployed in the Czech capital, with costs expected to reach up to CZK 50 million (over USD 2.5 million).
The number of road deaths in the Czech Republic over the Easter weekend was significantly lower than in previous years. Four people died in accidents between Saturday and Monday, several times fewer than most years in the last decade. The worst year was 2003, when 25 people died on Czech roads over Easter. Around 1,000 traffic police were deployed around the country at the weekend.
The OECD says the Czech Republic’s public finance deficit is unlikely to fall below the 3 percent cut-off required for adoption of the single European currency before the year 2013. Speaking on Tuesday, the general secretary of the OECD, Angel Gurria, said the main challenge facing the next Czech government would be to stabilise the country’s public finances and limit its indebtedness. He said the date on which the Czech Republic could adopt the euro would mainly depend on fulfilling those criteria. In 2009 the Czech public finance deficit rose to 5.93 percent of GDP; it is expected to fall back to 4.8 percent this year. The country does not have a target date for Euro adoption.
The International Monetary Fund has reacted angrily to suggestions by the vice-governor of the Czech National Bank that the IMF had worsened the financial crisis in eastern Europe, the news website tyden.cz reported. In an interview for an Austrian newspaper, Mojmír Hampl said the IMF had accelerated the crisis in the region so as to find a new sphere of activity and receive more funding. Tyden.cz said IMF officials had been strongly critical of Mr Hampl’s comments and a leading figure in the organisation had discussed the matter with the governor of the Czech central bank, Zdeněk Tuma. Officials said on Friday that the remarks had represented Mr Hampl’s private view, not the position of the bank.
A judge has been sentenced to nine years in jail for criminal conspiracy. Jiří Berka was found guilty of making rulings on the basis of false documents in ten cases while he served as a bankruptcy judge in the North Bohemia region. He caused damage amounting to CZK 264 million to the companies in question, and also attempted to siphon another CZK 202 million from them. Two bankruptcy administrators also received nine-year terms for their part in the conspiracy. Other accomplices were given shorter prison sentences.
A special concert marking 50 years since the era of Czechoslovak 1960s pop music known as bigbít (big beat) will be held at Prague’s O2 Arena in October. Nine groups will take part in the four-hour show, among them Pavel Sedláček & Cadillac, Olympic, Blue Effect and Matadors; the bill will also feature some contemporary bands.
After reaching the final of the Miami Masters on Sunday, Tomáš Berdych has now become the Czech men’s tennis number one. Berdych, who was beaten for the title by Andy Roddick of the United States, is now ranked 16th in the world. The 24-year-old’s best ranking to date has been ninth. Berdych’s strong run at Miama lifted him above compatriot Radek Štěpánek, who is now 19th in the world. Štěpánek is currently taking a break from tennis after being hit by fatigue syndrome
The new manager of Slavia Prague football club František Cipro continued his winning start with a 3:0 home win over Bohemians 1905 on Monday evening. In his first game in charge on Thursday, Slavia beat their biggest rivals Sparta Prague 1:0 in the first leg of the Czech cup quarter-finals. Cipro replaced Karel Jarolím as boss after the latter parted company with Slavia following a run of poor results; during Jarolím’s five years in charge the club won back-to-back league titles for the first time in decades and reached the Champions League for the first time ever.
Tens of thousands of believers attended Easter mass celebrated in Catholic
and Protestant churches around the country. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, who is
due to retire next week as head of the Czech Catholic Church, celebrated
the main Easter mass at Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral on Sunday. His
successor, the new Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka took leave of his
congregation in Hradec Králove where he has served as bishop of the
Králove Diocese since 1998. He was appointed the 36th Archbishop of
in February of this year.
Easter Monday is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, though unlike Sunday’s church celebrations, it is linked to pagan traditions celebrating the arrival of spring and the birth of new life.