The Czech news agency, ČTK, has suggested that Canada’s visa requirement for Czech visitors (reintroduced by Canada last July in response to a marked increase in asylum seekers) could remain in place for at least several more years. On Wednesday, ČTK said that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had indicated as much following the EU-Canada summit in Brussels, where he stated that visas continued to be Canada’s main tool for blocking fake asylum attempts. The process of making changes to the legislation could take several years; ČTK cited 2013 as a possible target date. Brussels remains unhappy over Canada’s insistence on visas not only for Czech nationals but also for two other EU countries, Romania and Bulgaria. EU officials have warned that, in response, visa requirements could in the future be introduced for Canadian diplomats.
Czech President Václav Klaus and Prime Minister Jan Fischer have taken part in an event at Czech Radio marking the 65th anniversary of the start of the Prague Uprising. The two leaders and other senior politicians laid wreaths and spoke briefly in front of the station’s main building on Prague’s Vinohradská Street on Wednesday. Mr Klaus described the actions taken by Czechs in the final days and hours of the war as spontaneous and deeply admirable. On the morning of May 5, 1945, Czech Radio called on Prague citizens to rise up against the Nazi occupiers, four days before Soviet troops liberated the city. During a battle for control of the station around 90 people were killed. Around the city, some 30,000 people took part in the uprising, of which nearly 1,700 died. Other memorial events are also being held.
President Václav Klaus has condemned violence at pre-election meetings,
saying it has no place in Czech democracy. The president discussed the
issue on Wednesday outside the Czech Radio building, reacting to incidents
a day earlier at two separate Social Democrat meetings. In one, held in
Slaný, a group of students carried anti-Social Democrat placards,
including one suggesting the assassination of party leader Jiří
At a second meeting, in Kladno, an unknown assailant threw a litre-sized
jar of pickled sausages but luckily hit no one. The Social Democrats had
appealed to the president to react to the incidents.
Members of the country’s other largest political party, the Civic Democrats, have also condemned violence at party meetings, but the party’s election leader Petr Nečas suggested that the incidents could easily have been orchestrated by the Social Democrats in the run up to the election – an allegation the party has strongly denied.
The European Commission has threatened it could sue the Czech Republic for failing to respect European Union regulations on public tenders, after the former government opted to buy military transport planes from the EADS consortium without holding a European competition. The decision to buy four CASA C-295M planes was taken by the former centre-right government led by Mirek Topolánek. The current government will have two months to satisfactorily explain steps taken to the European Commission or face possible legal action. The Czech government argued that in this case no tender on the 3.5 billion crown deal was required as the decision was taken in the security interests of the country. However, the European Commission has countered that the necessary conditions for such a step were not met.
The Plzeň District Court has handed a four-year-suspended sentence of one year in prison to a Czech woman, Dagmar Tauchenová, who helped her husband, a convict, escape from a prison escort last year. The incident took place last November at gunpoint; Mrs Tauchenová's husband had been serving time for robbery. Within a day the police learned of the couple’s whereabouts, but the 42-year-old convict killed himself rather than allow himself to be recaptured. Surrounded, Mrs Tauchenová was herself shot and seriously wounded while trying to get away. Her wounds required emergency surgery.
Czech Communist MEP Miloslav Ransdorf has been stripped – for a second time – of immunity in the European Parliament. The decision was taken in response to a request by the Czech authorities investigating Mr Ransdorf’s role in a car crash in 2007 in which a female pedestrian was injured. Mr Ransdorf was originally stripped of immunity last February but was elected to new five-year term before the Czech authorities could process the original paperwork. The MEP told the Czech news agency he had in no way tried to resist the process but said he would not discuss any details. The accident was not the only one Mr Ransdorf has been involved in: he also had another collision in 2008 in which he also hit a pedestrian, who was taken to hospital for treatment.
An Mi-24 military helicopter taking part in Czech-British military training operations in the Czech Republic (known as Flying Rhino) was forced to emergency land on Tuesday evening near Třeštice, outside of Jihlava. A military spokesperson said the helicopter had experienced a technical problem, forcing the landing. Nobody was hurt in the incident. Technicians, who arrived at the scene shortly after the landing, investigated whether the machine could return to operation. Flying Rhino is now in its eighth consecutive year in the Czech Republic, with some 3,000 soldiers - from here and abroad - taking part.
Customs officers arrested a Polish national last week at Prague’s Ruzyně airport smuggling 15 kilograms of efedron, a drug similar to the Czech-made methamphetamine pervetin. A customs spokesperson revealed the news on Wednesday, saying it was the first arrest of anyone carrying the drug in the Czech Republic and possibly the European Union. Cut with other substances, the seller could reportedly have made an illegal profit of up to 45 million crowns (the equivalent of around 2.2 million dollars). Efedron is a synthetic drug which was clinically tested by the Soviets in the 1960s as a possible antidepressant.
A representative of the Union of Towns and Municipalities in the Czech Republic revealed statistics on Wednesday showing that Czechs recycled 35.8 kilograms of recyclable waste (paper, plastics, glass, and drinks cartons) per head in 2009. The result mirrors that of 2008. In all, 490,000 tons of recyclable material were recovered, the official said. The Czech Republic has a population of just over 10 million. The most diligent areas when it came to recycling included Prague and the Plzeň and Hradec Králové regions.
The defending champion at the BMW Open in Munich, Tomáš Berdych advanced without difficulty on Wednesday to the next round of the clay court tournament. The No. 3 seed outclassed Spain’s Pere Riba in straight sets 7:5, 6:1. He will play in the quarterfinal against German player Philip Petzschner. Another Czech, Jan Hájek, also advanced to the quarterfinal stage, beating Benjamin Becker of Germany 6:4, 6:0.