The last 2,000 conscripts in the Czech Army are due to leave their barracks on Wednesday, ending 140 years of compulsory military service in the Czech Lands. Throughout the year the Army has gradually been replacing conscripts with career soldiers. The move makes the Czech Republic one of the first countries in the region with a professional military. However, Joint Forces Commander Josef Sedlak warned on Tuesday of overly high expectations of the new army. He also said professionals could expect tougher training than their conscript counterparts.
Mobile phone operator Eurotel has failed in a court appeal against a fine of 48 million crowns (over 1.5 million euros) for abusing its dominant position on the Czech market. Eurotel and another operator Radiomobil were found guilty in 2002 of charging customers more for calls to a third operator than between their own networks.
The vacant position of head of the Czech Republic's Supreme Audit Office is unlikely to be filled during the term of the current government, Labour Minister Zdenek Skromach said on Tuesday. He said the three parties in the coalition were unable to agree on a replacement for Lubomir Volenik, who died almost 18 months ago.
Around 20,000 litres of radioactive water leaked out of the Temelin nuclear power plant in the southwest of the Czech Republic on Monday. According to a spokesman, the leak, caused by a water-level measuring problem in a reservoir, was contained within a limited area and did not pose a risk to the environment or to workers' health. Temelin's opponents say it is unsafe and should be shut down.
Czech police say they have detained 19 illegal immigrants from China together with two smugglers at the Bila-Konecna border crossing between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The 18 men and one woman were found hiding in the boot of a van by police who were checking the vehicle, a police spokeswoman said. A week ago police in the region detained 10 illegal immigrants from Asia.
The Agriculture Minister Jaroslav Palas has said he will run for the post of deputy chairman of the Social Democrats at the party's congress in March. The two candidates for the post of chairman are the acting head of the party, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross and the Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach. After a series of election defeats, the ruling coalition party's leadership says it needs to find strong personalities who would come up with a new programme and present it to the voters.
Czech Railways' new express train, the "Pendolino", will carry its first passengers during a test ride on Thursday. A spokesman for Czech Railways said the company will test the train on several regular express routes in the coming months to complete its trial operation. As of next December, the Italian-made Pendolino is expected to be used on international lines. The train's speed record in the Czech Republic is 237 kilometres per hour.
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