The prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, looks set to stand as a Social Democrat candidate in the Usti nad Labem region in general elections next year, two Czech dailies reported on Thursday. Mr Paroubek currently represents Prague and may have wished to avoid a possible head-to-head battle with Mirek Topolanek, chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats; his party are traditionally strong in the Prague area.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is to move from its current location at the top of Wenceslas Square to a safer place away from the centre of Prague, the United States-funded broadcaster announced on Thursday. Security at the station was stepped up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the US, and Czech politicians had called for RFE/RL to relocate as it posed a risk to the general population. It is moving to a new building in the Prague 10 district of Hagibor.
Czech football star Milan Baros has been in talks with German club Schalke over a possible transfer. Baros has been at England's Liverpool for three and a half years, but is not the club's first choice striker. He has a remarkable record at international level, with 25 goals in 37 games for the Czech Republic.
Three Czechs hoping to swim the English Channel are still waiting for suitable weather conditions. One of them, professional swimmer Yvetta Hlavacova, had to be rescued during a training session near Dover on Wednesday, after the sea turned very rough. She and fellow Czechs Richard Haan and Stanislav Bartusek have until August 3 to attempt the gruelling 21-mile swim.
A memorial ceremony for Culture Minister Pavel Dostal, who died on Sunday, has been held at Prague's National Theatre. The ceremony was broadcast live on Czech Television and was attended by President Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and other politicians, as well as many well known figures from the world of Czech culture. Mr Dostal will be laid to rest in a private family funeral on Friday.
Former finance minister and member of the Social Democrat Party, Ivo Svoboda, has reported to a Prague prison to serve a five-year sentence for embezzlement. He and his former adviser, Barbora Snopkova were found guilty of embezzling funds worth 300,000 US dollars from a bankrupt baby carriage manufacturer between 1996 and 1998 and they lost a final appeal in the case last autumn. Mr Svoboda is the first member of a post-Communist Czech government to be handed down a prison sentence.
After several successful years, cinemas in the Czech Republic are coping with dwindling attendances. According to the Film Distributors Association, the number of cinema-goers fell considerably in the first six months of this year, sliding from 6 million in the same period in 2004 to just 4.63 million. Sales also decreased sharply, from 553 million crowns (23 million US dollars) to 423.2 million crowns (17 million dollars). The Film Distributors Association attributes the fall to a lack of blockbusters, and also to increasing piracy. Some experts say that it may also reflect the growing debts of Czech households which have to reconsider their spending priorities.
Theatre director and general commissioner of the Czech exposition at Expo 2005 Vladimir Darjanin is a hot candidate for the post of Czech culture minister to replace Pavel Dostal who died of cancer on Sunday, Czech dailies wrote on Wednesday. If Mr Darjanin were appointed, he would become the fourth non-party member in the coalition cabinet, besides Deputy Prime Minister Martin Jahn, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan and head of the government Legislative Council Pavel Zarecky. Mr Darjanin who is still in Japan is expected to meet Prime Minister Paroubek later this week.
Police have not found the perpetrator of the May attack on Cesky Telecom CEO Gabriel Berdar and have shelved the case, a spokeswoman for Central Bohemia police said on Wednesday. Mr Berdar was attacked and beaten up outside his house by two men, who probably used an iron bar, in early May. On his way to hospital Mr Berdar started to shoot at a car he believed was driven by the perpetrators. Both men whom Mr Berdar labelled as the assailants denied their guilt.
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