Police statistics state that the past weekend was thus far the most tragic one on Czech roads this year. A total of 16 people died in car accidents across the country on Saturday and Sunday. The month of September saw 90 people killed in automobile accidents; thus far September and June share the record for the most tragic months of the year. A total of 672 people were killed on Czech roads during the first nine months of the year. A marked drop in the number of fatal accident was recorded in July after a new and stricter traffic law came into force, however the figures started rising again in August.
The Czech state-run carrier Czech Airlines has said it will sell its catering service and a cargo terminal at the Prague Ruzyne international airport. The move is part of recently launched cost-cutting measures, the airline said in a statement. The company said it hopes to receive offers from possible buyers this year and to choose the winning bidder in February 2007. Czech Airlines posted a net loss of 773 million crowns (34.54 million USD; 27.28 million euros) in the first half of the year. Last month the struggling state-controlled carrier asked its main shareholder, the finance ministry, for a cash injection of about 2 billion crowns but denied speculation of impending bankruptcy.
Former Health Minister David Rath has said that one deputy for the Social Democrats may not be present for health reasons at Tuesday's crucial confidence vote in the minority government of Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Her absence could seriously affect the vote as the opposition leftist bloc has exactly the same number of MPs in the chamber as the centre-right parties. However, Prime Minister Topolanek said on Monday he himself would not take part in the vote if an opposition MP should be absent for reasons of ill health.
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel has been selected for this year's Gandhi Peace Prize for upholding human rights and world peace, the Indian Catholic wrote on Monday. The decision was taken by a five-member jury chaired by India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and including the opposition leader Sonia Gandhi, the Chief Justice of India, a former president and former prime minister. The prize is awarded every year for outstanding work and contribution to social, economic and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods. The former Czech president, playwright, and human rights activist will celebrate his 70th birthday on Thursday.
The minority cabinet of Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek will ask the lower house of parliament for confidence on Tuesday, three months after the June general elections which produced a perfect split between the rightist and leftist blocs in the lower chamber. Both former PM Jiri Paroubek's Social Democrats and the Communists have pledged to reject the government in the vote. Owing to that the chances of Mirek Topolanek's cabinet receiving confidence from the chamber are slim. If it loses the vote, the cabinet will have to resign. In such a case, a new prime minister appointed by President Vaclav Klaus would put together a new cabinet which would again need to seek a majority support in the lower house.
Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych was beaten 13 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5) by Russia's Dmitry Tursunov in a rain-hit final at the Cricket Club of India courts at the Mumbai Open on Monday. The Mumbai final, which was put off on Sunday due to heavy rain, was twice interrupted by rain, the first time at 1-1 in the second set and then again at 5-5 in the third set. When play resumed the second time, Tursunov broke Berdych to lead 6-5 but the third-seeded Czech broke back immediately to force the match into the tie-breaker. Berdych, still looking for his first title this year after five appearances in the final, had won 15 of his last 19 matches but failed to deliver when it mattered most.
Former deputy minister of finance, Eduard Janota, who was dismissed on Friday, says that the Czech Republic's debt does not reach 1.3 trillion crowns, as was stated in recent newspaper ads taken out by the Ministry of Finance. Speaking on Sunday's TV program Otazky Vaclava Moravce, Mr. Janota says that these figures were complied by advisors of Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty. The reasons for Mr. Janota's dismissal remain unclear, though commentators speculate that he is taking the fall for the ministry's unpopular strategy of ads paid for using taxpayers money. Mr. Janota (54), a non-partisan employee of the Ministry of Finance, has worked under nine different ministers in the post-1989 era. Since 1992 he has served as director of the division responsible for the state budget.
Czech men's tennis star, Tomas Berdych, will have to wait until Monday to play in the final in Bombay, India. Rain postponed Sunday's scheduled match between Berdych and his Russian opponent, Dmitriji Tursunov. The two have met once before, at this year's US Open where Berdych proved victorious after five sets. If 21-year old Tomas Berdych manages a repeat and wins the final in Bombay, he will enter the top-ten rankings for the first time in his career. He currently ranks thirteenth in the world.
A painting by the well-known artist and writer, Josef Capek, was auctioned off for a record 9.3 million crowns (over $416 000 US) over the weekend. The oil painting, "Koupel Nohou" (1921) was sold in an auction at Prague's Hilton Hotel on Saturday. "Koupel Nohou" was previously exhibited in Prague, Brno, and Kosice after being completed in 1921, and the painting also appeared as part of various Czech and Slovak exhibitions during the 1970s and 1980s. The previous record for the most expensive painting sold in a Czech auction was set in April 2006, when Jindrich Styrsky's "Cirkus Simonette" sold for 8.6 million crowns (over $385 000 US).
Speaking on Sunday's TV program Nedelni partie, Social Democratic
leader and former prime minister Jiri Paroubek said that he would
support changing the rules so that a person could learn whether his/her
phone conversations are being wiretapped by police. Mr. Paroubek cited
the access to information laws of Germany, France, or the United
Kingdom as those that the Czech Republic could adopt.
Mr. Paroubek also said that he is pleased that members of the Civic Democratic Party have not been able to provide proof that the former Social Democratic government misused police wiretappings. Mr. Paroubek was referring specifically to Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, Interior Minister Ivan Langer, and Deputy Prime Minister Petr Necas who suggested that Mr. Paroubek's government requested wiretaps on a number of politicians and journalists. Last week, Supreme Court judge Renata Vesecka said that there had been no politically-motivated request for wiretaps.
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