Prague Castle hosted the yearly Descartes Prize award ceremony on
Thursday at which scientists were honoured for their contributions in
the field of life science and physics. This year's 1 million euro EU
Descartes Prize was awarded to two teams for outstanding cross-border
research. The winning EU-US team has made revolutionary breakthroughs
in the field of quantum cryptography; the winning pan-European team
contributed to greater understanding of mitochondrial DNA, believed to
be one of the keys to the ageing process.
A 250,000 euro EU Descartes Prize for Science Communication was awarded for the first time to five personalities for their exceptional role in bringing science and technology to wider audiences in Europe.
The Czech football coach, Karel Bruckner, received a bonus of 15 million crowns (almost half a million euros) for leading the national team to the semi-finals of the European Championships in Portugal, the Czech squad's business manager Vlastimil Kostal said on Wednesday. But Mr Kostal denied press reports the coach had decided his own bonus, saying the figure was established in Mr Bruckner's contract. The main stars of the team, such as Pavel Nedved and Milan Baros, received seven and a half million crowns, while other players and staff received smaller sums.
The cabinet has decided to keep its options open over the privatisation of Cesky Telecom: it will first try to find a suitable investor. If that should fail, it will sell its 51% stake in the telecommunications company on the capital markets. A number of foreign investors have expressed interest in taking part in the tender, which will close at the end of March. Cesky Telecom has an estimated market value of 114 billion crowns; it operates three and a half million fixed lines and is the sole owner of mobile operator Eurotel, which has almost four and a half million customers.
A group of children from the Russian town of Beslan have arrived in the Czech Republic, where they will undergo medical treatment and rehabilitation. A hostage crisis at their school in September ended in the deaths of more than 300 people. The children, accompanied by parents and teachers, as well as psychologists, will be staying in the west Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary, where there is a sizable Russian community.
A group of around 70 children from the Russian town of Beslan was due to arrive in the Czech Republic on Wednesday evening to undergo medical treatment and rehabilitation. A hostage crisis at their school in September ended in the deaths of more than 300 people. The children, accompanied by parents and teachers, as well as psychologists, will be staying in the west Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary, where there is a sizable Russian community.
The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has rejected a vote of no-confidence in Ukraine's prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, passed by the country's parliament. Mr Yanukovych came first in Ukraine's presidential elections amid widespread allegations of voting irregularities. Mr Klaus said, however, the no-confidence vote would lead to increased instability in the country. He said he was worried about steps being taken which could lead to a "point of no return" in Ukraine. The Czech president has also called for a re-run of the disputed presidential election.
The hard-line Communist Party of Czechoslovakia is planning to stand in general elections for the first time in 2006, leader Miroslav Stepan said on Wednesday. Mr Stepan, the Communist Party chief in Prague before 1989, spent two and a half years in prison in the early 1990s for trying to crush the Velvet Revolution. He said his party were growing in strength and attracting disaffected members of the more mainstream Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, which is the second biggest opposition group in the Czech parliament.
Finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called for an emergency session of Parliament which would freeze the salaries of deputies, senators and ministers in the coming year. The Lower House recently approved a law which postpones a planned increase in the salaries of policemen, firemen and other emergency services but which at the same time raises the salaries of deputies, senators, cabinet ministers and state attorneys as of January 1st of 2005. Coming at a time of cuts in public spending, the news evoked plenty of criticism. Minister Sobotka said that with goodwill from both houses of Parliament there was still time to reverse this decision.