Meanwhile, trust in public institutions has increased, suggests a poll carried out by the CVVM agency last month. Three-quarters of respondents said they trusted the president, up five percent on the beginning of the year. Some 44 percent said they had faith in the government, an increase of three percent.
The Czech Olympic Committee is suing three companies for alleged copyright infringement. It says energy drink maker Tecfood broke the law by featuring the Olympic rings on its cans without authorisation. The Czech Olympic Committee is also taking the brewery Litovel to court for breach of copyright, and is planning to sue another brewery, Budejovicky Budvar, in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee.
A dispute has arisen between Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and President Vaclav Klaus over the protocol of a visit to Prague by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Just before Mr Putin arrived this week, Mr Paroubek said cabinet ministers would not sign a treaty with Russia at the president's office at Prague Castle; he insisted that the ceremony take place at the Office of the Government a day later. In the end, however, the prime minister backed down and the signing took place at the Castle. The president's office has accused Mr Paroubek of attempting blackmail, while he said it had behaved incorrectly.
Czech ice hockey star Jaromir Jagr has now notched up 1,400 points in the NHL, the highest number ever for a European player. He made one assist and scored two goals in the New York Rangers 6:1 defeat of Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Meanwhile, Jagr has questioned the Czech team's preparations for the Turin Winter Olympics; he said insufficient back-up for the players was one reason he had quit international hockey.
A Czech farmers group has called for a ban on the transport of poultry within the European Union. The South Moravian Agrarian Chamber also wants the state to make so-called "intervention purchases" of Czech poultry, and says the importing of cheap poultry into the Czech Republic could pose a health risk. A spokesperson for the ministry of agriculture said its priority was to support sales by reassuring customers that Czech poultry was safe. No cases of bird flu have been recorded in the Czech Republic, but it has been detected in some neighbouring states.
Czech scientists have developed a vaccine which could reduce middle ear infection. Researchers from the University of Defence in Hradec Kralove said the vaccine they tested against middle ear infection reduced cases of illness by about 30 percent in babies who had been vaccinated in the first six months of life. The university has developed the drug for the company GlaxoSmithKline.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's official visit to Prague came to a close on Thursday. Mr Putin held talks with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, and the heads of both houses of Parliament. Oil and gas supplies, foreign investment, and Czech exports to Russia were among the topics discussed. Mr Putin also said Russia bears a "moral responsibility" for the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. At final talks on Thursday, Prime Minister Paroubek deliberately avoided sensitive issues such as the war in Chechnya and democracy in Russia. He says bilateral relations are better than ever before.
President Vaclav Klaus has signed a bill that introduces a road toll system for vehicles above 12 tonnes in 2007. The state currently makes around 1 billion crowns (around 42 million US dollars) off special coupons that drivers have to buy to use the country's motorways. The new system, which is to be provided by the Austrian company Kapsch, is estimated to bring in around 10,5 billion crowns a year.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has denied that his calls for US troops not to withdraw from neighbouring Iraq prematurely are out of fear from Iran. Turkish newspapers quoted Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda on Thursday as saying his Turkish counterpart confided in him last month that he feared the withdrawal of the US forces would boost Iran's influence.
The European Union has agreed to introduce a temporary sugar quota cut for the 2006/2007 season. Fearing a sugar surplus, the European Commission proposed to reduce the production quota by 2.5 million tonnes. In the Czech Republic, this will reduce production from close to 455,000 tonnes to 411,332 tonnes.
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