The US Embassy in Prague has recommended that all US citizens visiting the Czech capital exercise caution with regards to a possible terrorist threat. The embassy released the statement on Wednesday - ahead of the state holiday - but said it had no specific information about any planned attack. An embassy spokesperson said that the recommendation came in reaction to questions by US citizens following a declaration by the Czech government last weekend stressing Prague was at threat. Special security measures in the city were introduced and remain in effect. The embassy has asked citizens to report anything out of the ordinary to the police.
The Association of Travel Agencies of the Czech Republic has revealed that the number of tourists visiting Prague has dropped for the first time since 1989. In the first quarter of 2006 the Czech capital saw 2.9 million visits by foreign tourists - four percent less than the same period one year ago. Roughly two-thirds of those who come to the Czech Republic visit the Czech capital. Reasons for the drop in the number of visitors 17 years after the Velvet Revolution says a representative of the Association of Travel Agencies, include the fact that many more Europeans are now familiar with the city. Meanwhile, although Prague saw fewer visitors in the first quarter of this year than before, the number of visitors from further abroad such as the US, Russia, Japan and China, continues to increase.
Czech footballer Milan Baros is set to return to the national squad for two upcoming Euro 2008 qualification matches. Those are set against San Marino and Ireland. Baros, who plays for Aston Villa in the English Premiership, has recovered from injury and could be an important asset for the Czechs: so far, the Czech Republic has won qualification matches against Wales and neighbouring Slovakia, putting it atop Group D standings just behind Germany. Other players nominated for the upcoming games include goalkeepers Petr Cech - who plays for Chelsea - and Marek Cech (unrelated) who plays for Slovan Liberec.
Twenty-two people have been treated for injuries received in a bus crash near the southern town of Jindrichuv Hradec. Five hospitals on Thursday checked those hurt in the accident, some of them with more serious injuries but none critical. The accident took place in the morning when the bus went off the road and into a ditch but did not flip over. The coach driver told police that the brakes on the vehicle failed. The coach was headed to Jindrichuv Hradec from Brno.
The Civic Democrat cabinet led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has approved its government policy statement ahead of a confidence vote which takes place on Tuesday next week. Cabinet members say that the proposal is based on an earlier concept discussed during post-election talks. The prime minister has said that he will seek the support of all parties in the lower house, with the exception of the Communists. He is planning to meet with MPs from parliamentary clubs of the Social and Christian Democrats, and the Greens before the October 3rd vote. Thus far, no other party has openly declared support for the minority cabinet. Mr Topolanek's policy statement commits his cabinet to governing only until June 2007 - opting for early elections.
Some 150 right-wing nationalists demonstrated in the town of Kladno near Prague on Thursday - the day of statehood - carrying Czech flags as well as placards with nationalistic slogans. At around two in the afternoon the demonstrators - reportedly dressed mostly in black - made their way to the town's historic centre, where around a dozen members of the anarchist movement attempted to provoke a clash but were separated by police. Both local as well as state police monitored the demonstration to prevent events from getting out of hand. In the end a skirmish between the two camps - anarchists and the ultra right - did break out, leading to three arrests.
The Czech Republic's most popular commercial TV station, NOVA, has decided to reprimand its chief reporter, Jan Tuna. For the time being, Mr. Tuna will not appear in broadcasts because TV NOVA's management is upset by the fact that he wrote an open letter to Jiri Paroubek, the Social Democratic leader, after the June elections. Mr. Tuna was one of the journalists named by Mr. Paroubek in his controversial speech on the evening of June 3; the Social Democratic leader accused several Czech journalists of being "in the pay of the Civic Democrats." Jan Tuna reacted by writing an open letter to Mr. Paroubek, calling for his resignation because the Social Democratic leader did not provide any proof to support the accusations.
Tougher security measures remain in place around key sites in Prague as the country's intelligence services investigate the heightened treat of a terrorist attack. The government introduced the measures on Saturday night on the grounds of what it said was "the most serious threat of a terrorist attack the country had ever faced". Prague's mayor Pavel Bem has said that the extraordinary measures would last for at least one week. There is speculation that the terrorist threat is linked to the arrest of four men in Norway who are suspected of planning terrorist attacks on the US and Israeli embassies in Oslo.
Petr Necas, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs has dismissed his deputy in charge of European Union and international relations, Cestmir Sajda. Mr. Necas told reporters that his decision was made on the basis of planned restructuring at the ministry, as well as dissatisfaction with the amount of money that the Czech Republic has drawn from European Union structural funds. Earlier this month, Mr. Necas dismissed three of his seven deputies, which now leaves him with a total of three deputy ministers. Mr. Sajda served as a deputy at the Ministry of Labour since the beginning of 2004.
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