The Czech Republic recorded a foreign trade surplus of 1.2 billion
crowns in July, an improvement of over 8 billion compared to the same
month last year. It is the first time there has been a surplus in July,
when there is usually a downturn due to seasonal factors. The balance
particularly improved in the field of machinery and transport
Friday's positive figures caused the Czech crown to rise in strength against the euro- it reached a three-year high of 29.21.
The Prague district of Troja will be the last part of the city to receive flood defences; they are to be installed after the world kayaking championships are held there next August, deputy Prague mayor Jan Burgermeister said on Friday. Many areas of the city were damaged three years ago during the worst flooding in centuries.
The first phase of a new terminal at Prague's Ruzyne international airport has been officially opened, four months ahead of schedule. The main hall of the terminal, known as North-2, should be completed by the end of the year. Ruzyne is set to become the biggest airport among the ten countries which joined the European Union in 2004, and the first to handle more than ten million passengers a year.
Prague police are refusing to comment on the shooting dead of a 22-year-old man, believed to be from Ukraine, in the early hours of Friday morning. The CTK news agency reported that he was shot by the police, who were responding to a call from a woman who said men were "restricting her freedom" in her flat. A spokesperson said the police were continuing to investigate the incident.
The governing Social Democrats have described the furore surrounding the
privatisation of Unipetrol as a campaign aimed at discrediting the party.
Chairman Stanislav Gross - who has been linked to alleged bribe-taking -
has called for a full investigation of the affair, which began when TV
Nova showed a meeting between a Polish lobbyist and Zdenek Dolezel. Mr
Dolezel was sacked by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek as head of his office
over the recording.
The state's stake in Unipetrol was bought by Poland's PKN Orlen, and there have been reports that Polish officials want to question Mr Gross, a former Czech prime minister, and the country's minister of finance, Bohumil Sobotka.
The Czech football team have arrived in Romania, ahead of an important
World Cup qualifying game on Saturday. They are currently second in
their group, but a win against Romania could help them guarantee a
place in the finals - the two second-placed teams with the best results
go through without having to take part in playoffs. The Czechs last
reached the World Cup in 1980.
Meanwhile, the national ice hockey team got off to a winning start under new coach Alois Hadamczik on Thursday, beating Finland 2:1 in Liberec in the Ceska pojistovna cup.
Czech Radio has launched a new 24-hour station specialising in programmes about science, technology, and nature. Called "Leonardo", the station now broadcasts on the internet and as of October along with other Czech Radio stations it will be available in digital form in the DVB-T system. Leonardo is one of Czech Radio's four digital projects, along with the news station "Radio Cesko", the classical music channel "D dur" and a youth channel due to start broadcasting at the end of 2005.
In related news, Czech president Vaclav Klaus has called the Unipetrol case "serious" although he did stress on Thursday he wasn't drawing conclusions. The leader of the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, meanwhile, called on the prime minister in a letter to make public all documentation compiled by Polish officials. In Mr Topolanek's view recent developments have "cast doubt" on the transparency of the Unipetrol sale earlier this year.
September 1st meant "back to school" for 1.4 million Czech pupils, after their two-month summer holiday. This year some 88,500 entered the first grade, while around 139,000 students began high school. Education Minister Petra Buzkova paid a visit to a primary school in the Central Bohemian town of Melnik, while Czech president Vaclav Klaus visited two schools in the South Bohemian town of Pisek.
Officials from Poland's public prosecutor's office have said it is likely the office will seek to question Czech politicians in connection with the privatisation of the Czech petrochemical company Unipetrol earlier this year. The Czech Republic's stake in Unipetrol was bought by Poland's PKN Orlen concern. In recent days reports as well as video footage have surfaced linking the former head of the Czech government office, Zdenek Dolezel, with a possible bribe in the sale of Unipetrol, a charge he has denied. Now, according to unofficial sources, the Polish public prosecutor's office would like to question two high-standing Czech politicians in connection with the sale: Czech Finance Minister Bohumil Sobotka and former prime-minister Stanislav Gross.
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