According to preliminary police statistics, August saw the lowest number of fatal traffic accidents on Czech roads in the last 36 years. The total number of road accidents decreased as well. In both July and August, 2006, 72 people died on Czech roads, that is 48 and 30 percent fewer than last year, respectively. The number of injuries has also dropped compared to previous years. According to the police and experts, the situation is a result of new traffic regulations which came into force last month and introduced tougher punishments for driving offences.
President Klaus has also met the members of the outgoing centre-left coalition cabinet and thanked them for their work. He said that although he did not always agree with the decisions of the government of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, the relations were always correct. The outgoing cabinet was appointed in April 2005 after Prime Minister Stanislav Gross stepped down following a financial scandal.
The archbishop of Prague has launched an attack on the American superstar singer Madonna, days before her "Confessions" world tour appearances in Prague, including a controversial mock crucifixion scene. Speaking of the singer as "the so-called Madonna", Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said in a statement of Friday that such megashows were absolutely unacceptable for Christians because they offended the religious sensibilities of believers. Cardinal Vlk also said that it was "scandalous" that "millions were earned thanks to a contempt for the Christian religion," and that in the future nobody would remember who the singer Madonna was, "but the true Madonna (Virgin Mary) will continue to be venerated." Madonna is due to perform in Prague on September 6 and 7 with tickets for her appearances sold out within two hours of going on sale.
President Vaclav Klaus has said he will appoint the cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek on Monday. Civic Democrat chairman and Prime Minister designate Mirek Topolanek met President Klaus on Friday at Prague Castle, and presented to him a list of the members of his minority government. The new cabinet is to have 15 ministers, 9 of them members of the Civic Democratic Party and 6 unaffiliated, and prepare the country for early elections. Owing to an even split between the leftist and rightist parties in the lower house after June's national elections, it is expected to have difficulties receiving a vote of confidence from the chamber. The vote is expected to take place on October 4th.
Congolese defensive midfielder Ilongo Ngasanya has joined Czech league leaders Mlada Boleslav on loan until the end of the year. The 22-year-old had struggled to hold down a first team place at Lokomotiv Moscow and had been on loan at another Russian side, Nalchik. Mlada Boleslav's sporting director Zdenek Kudela said the team's aim was to improve its the quality and attractiveness.
A court has ruled that the former chairman of the Communist Party, Miroslav Grebenicek, must apologise to activist Jan Sinagl, whom he publicly insulted during a May Day rally in 2005. Mr Sinagl was protesting on the spot the Communist Party's traditional gathering: to this day many observers see the party as both unreformed and unapologetic for its past in Czechoslovakia. In the incident in 2005, Mr Grebenicek publicly called Mr Sinagl "a primitive" - a statement that the court on Thursday found encroached on the activist's rights. Following the ruling, Mr Grebenicek will have to cover all costs of the trial, as well as take out ads in two national newspapers to issue his apology.
An Internet news site - aktualne.cz - has suggested that the Czech Republic may be more suitable than Poland for a possible US missile defence facility. The information, according to the server, comes from findings by expert teams which visited sites in both Poland and the Czech Republic this summer. Experts visited three areas in the Czech Republic alone, assessing logistics and infrastructure. But, according to aktualne.cz, a positive assessment does not necessarily mean the US will opt for the Czech Republic: political criteria, too, are playing a role. Early public opinion polls suggested that a majority of Czechs would prefer the base to be built elsewhere, and a number of political parties have raised the question of a possible referendum on the issue. According to some sources the US may propose a radar site in the Czech Republic rather than the actual missile defence facility. A final decision by the US is expected next month.
Stanislav Griga has been fired as coach for the Sparta Prague football team after just eleven months at the helm. Sparta have won just two of five games since the beginning of the new season, and Mr Griga's departure was expected. His replacement should be made known on Friday: a hot candidate for the post is reportedly Michal Bilek, currently coaching Viktoria Pilsen.
The Czech military will reportedly get new Tatra personnel carriers several years later than planned earlier because of cuts in the state budget. Deputy Defence Minister Martin Belcik has told the daily Pravo the deal would be postponed but not cancelled. The Defence Ministry was to sign a contract on the purchase of more than 550 vehicles worth 6.8 billion crowns (the equivalent of around 310 million US dollars) by the year's end. In addition to deputy defence minister said that the lower budget will also stop other investment projects, including the planned repairs or completion of a number of bases, the modernisation of computer equipment, and improvement to Czech-owned Russian-built helicopters. The postponement of the Tatra purchase could still face reversal under a new government, expected to be appointed in a few days' time.