Environmental activists in the Šumava National Park have taken to the treetops as police attempt to remove them from the area for the fourth consecutive day. Other protestors have shackled themselves together around the trees. The activists have been attempting to stop the park management from felling trees in a protected zone of the forest that is being destroyed by the bark beetle infestation. Environmental groups maintain that the park management has no exemption to cut in the area. However, a preliminary court order allowed loggers to begin work in the area on Monday, at which point police arrived to evacuate the activists. Of the 76 activists in the area 26 were arrested on Wednesday and several more were taken away from the area. The park has marked roughly 4,000 trees for felling and intends to use heavy machinery to accelerate the process.
In related news, the Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the European Commission is investigating the situation in the Šumava. According to the news website Aktualne.cz, the commission asked the ministry to explain the situation in June and a response is currently being prepared. Based on the explanation Brussels will then decide whether to bring a legal suit against the Czech Republic that could result in a large fine or other penalties. The Šumava, or Bohemian Forest, is part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network of protected habitats.
The Czech Radio Council has elected acting director Peter Duhan to head the institution. Mr Duhan, who has run Czech Radio since the resignation of the previous director in March of last year, was chosen from three final candidates, receiving the minimum six of nine votes in the third round of the election. The 64-year-old native of Slovakia has promised a wide-ranging reorganisation of the public radio broadcaster that will include four primary stations and a decrease in the number of employees over the next four years.
President Václav Klaus has responded to media reports of his refusal to go through security at the Australian Parliament House. On Tuesday, President Klaus refused to go through a metal detector at the Australian parliament building, where he was to be interviewed on public television. Writing in the daily Právo, the president explains that a group of schoolchildren was queued in front of him as he waited to enter the building, whereby he told the TV producer that he was not prepared to wait. The producer’s account that Mr Klaus objected to going through the metal detector made international headlines that evening. The Czech president is on a private, rather than official, visit to Australia, where he is doing a string of lectures positing his controversial views on climate change.
Accidents caused by drunk drivers killed 29 people in the first half of 2011, the traffic police have reported. The number amounts to 9% of the total number of road accident victims this year and marks a decrease from last year, when there were 17 more deaths during the same period. The number of injuries resulting from drink-related accidents however rose sharply by 124 to nearly 1,200, and the number of accidents in which alcohol was a factor was also higher. The police report that more than 11,400 drivers were found to have alcohol in their blood while driving during the first half of the year. An additional 850 drivers were found to be under the influence of drugs.
A survey suggests that bonuses for top managers in the Czech Republic have gone up by 41% in the last year. According to research carried out by the company Profesia for the website Platy.cz, the average annual bonus was roughly 152,500 Czech crowns for people in high managerial positions, or more than 44,000 crowns higher than last year. The top management bracket also saw the highest rise in bonuses of those surveyed. Meanwhile the survey suggests that bonuses for less qualified employees dropped slightly during the second quarter of 2011, with the average bonus for assistant employees amounting to 5,670 crowns.
Czech scientists at the Physiological Institute of the Academy of Sciences have acquired a new version of a unique 3D microscope they helped develop. The institute had previously assisted colleagues from Yale University in the United States in constructing the device and testing it on biological specimens. The microscope has a resolution of up to 25 nanometres, roughly a quarter of the size of a virus, and will make it possible to study the structure of mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA and the causes of their mutations.
Police have charged another three drivers’ licence commissioners from Prague City Hall with accepting bribes. A total of 17 commissioners are under investigation for issuing licences to scores of individuals in exchange for payments of 2 to 15 thousand crowns. Seven driving instructors and owners of driving schools are also being investigated in the affair. Drivers’ licence applicants in Prague have faced long delays due to the investigation, which has left only a handful of commissioners at the city licensing office.
Some 37% of Czech cottage owners have had their recreational houses burgled, according to a poll carried out by the STEM/MARK agency for the insurance company Generali. Police statistics from 2010 show that the average damage to cottages and property therein was nearly 19,000 crowns. The items most frequently stolen from cottages were tools (28%), electronics (20%) and common household appliances (20%), while food and clothing were also frequently taken.
Police in the town of Litoměřice say they are receiving frequent complaints of gang harassment and banditry on the D8 motorway. The police told the Czech Press Agency Thursday that several times a week drivers have reported having been stopped by a group of people, allegedly from the Balkans, and either offered obscure goods for sale or robbed on the spot. The police have thus far been unable to apprehend anyone involved as the group quickly changes its location. Most of those stopped have been foreigners from Western Europe.