The chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, is in Prague for talks with the Czech president and other officials. Admiral Di Paola is scheduled to meet with Czech President Václav Klaus, the new defence minister, Alexandr Vondra, and the chief of general staff, Vlastimil Picek. The officials will talk about Czech participation in NATO’s foreign missions.
The Czech Republic will be sending a new training and advisory team to Afghanistan, according to the office of the Chief of Staff of the Czech Army. The announcement came after a meeting on Friday between Czech army and political leaders and Admiral Di Paola. The fifty-man team will be involved in training Afghan soldiers in the central province of Wardak. The new deployment will not increase the total numbers of Czech troops in Afghanistan approved for this year, which will amount to 533 soldiers in September. The decision is the result of NATO requests to reinforce training capacities in the country.
The daily Mladá fronta Dnes writes that Police President Oldřich Martinů will likely be replaced by the current director of the South Moravian police, Tomáš Kužel. If true, the appointment will doubtless stir controversy as Mr Kužel served for several months in the National Security force of the communist secret police in 1989 and was charged with surveillance activities. Before then he had been a member of the Public Security police since 1984. Citing several unnamed sources, Mladá fronta says that Prime Minister Petr Nečas has been informally told of the nomination. New Interior Minister Radek John sparked alarm last week when he said he would likely replace the current police chief with “one of his own people”. He has no yet commented on Mr Kužel’s potential nomination.
President Václav Klaus pardoned six people on Friday, citing humanitarian reasons in most of the cases, namely the needs of the convicts to care for their children. One man was pardoned for driving without a driver’s licence and obstruction of justice because he is the sole provider for his three children. The same rationale applied to two women convicted of property crimes and credit fraud, and two foreigners who were deported and have families in the Czech Republic. In another case, a man being investigated for grievous bodily harm was pardoned because of old age and poor health. Mr Klaus last granted pardons roughly a month ago when he reprieved ten people.
The Supreme State Prosecutor’s office reports that crime associated with corruption is declining. According to the institution’s annual report, 112 people were investigated on corruption charges in 2009 compared to 126 the year before. The office admits however that the decline does not correspond to the actual state of corruption. Transparency International believes that the authorities responsible for criminal investigations are not carrying out their work properly. The chairman of Transparency International, Václav Láska said it was impossible that the number of people investigated and charged could go down when the degree of corruption in the country was on the rise.
Archaeologists have discovered the Bronze Age tomb of a woman and a child near the Moravian town of Hulín. Near the tomb, and what was once a road, were several pits for food storage, decorated ceramics, animal bones and plaster wall fragments. The archaeologists said the burial was set according to the common ritual practices of the time, with both figures crouched face to face and the child in the woman’s arms, however it was unusual that they were interred in what was obviously a residential area. The animal bones will help researchers understand the eating and breeding customs of the early inhabitants of Moravia; in addition to cow, pig and goat bones they also found a large number of remains of river shellfish.
The Temelín nuclear power plant will be switching from American to Russian fuel. The fuel, which has been provided until now by the US company Westinghouse, will be phased out of the first block over the next two months in favour of the new Russian provider TVEL, which won a 10-year tender for the contract in 2006. Temelín will shut down its first block on Friday evening to begin the change, which will involve 600 ČEZ employees and roughly 1000 workers from 50 supply companies. The fuel in the second block of the power station will be exchanged in the spring of next year.
The Social Democratic Party will be presenting a new logo next week, party leader Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters on Friday. The new logo will keep the rose symbol and the predominant orange colour. The changes come in response to the party’s defeat in legislative elections, and hope to add to better chances in the autumn local and Senate elections. Mr Sobotka also said that the next campaign would be more modest, as the last one was excessively expensive. He said the party had been given a clear message from the voters, either to change, or lose elections.
A poll carried out by the STEM agency suggests that a majority of Czechs support the new centre-right government coalition, which consists of the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs parties. 53% of respondents are in favour of the coalition, while 58% of those who participated in May elections give their support. The poll also rated the parties’ credibility among citizens. The new Public Affairs party was considered “trustworthy” by most small party supporters, left-leaning voters and non-voters. Partisan voters, meanwhile, were more likely to consider the party “suspicious”. The coalition parties received a combined total of 48% of the legislative election in May and will stand a vote of confidence in Parliament on August 10.
Baník Ostrava beat WTI Georgia 6:0 in the first leg of the second qualifying round of UEFA’s Europa League in Tbilisi on Thursday. The Czech side first scored some 15 minutes before the end of the first half but added five more goals within 20 minutes in the second. The home side only came close to scoring in the 37th minute but the header missed the goal. The second leg is scheduled for July 22 in Ostrava.