Some twenty young Georgians living in Prague gathered outside the Russian embassy on Tuesday to protest against violation of human rights in Russia and Moscow's support for the separatist Georgian regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The demonstrators said that Russia's military support for the separatist regions could lead to a civil war that would claim thousands of lives. Relations between Russia and Georgia started to deteriorate three years ago when a new leadership adopted a pro-Western policy and strove to weaken Moscow's influence on Georgian affairs.
According to a poll conducted by the Median agency, the Civic Democratic Party would win the country's general elections if they were held today. The poll indicates that the strongest right wing party would gain 39.1 percent of the vote. The Social Democrats would come second with 29.4 percent, while the Communists would finish third with 13 percent. The only other parties which would cross the 5 percent margin needed to win seats in parliament would be the Greens and Christian Democrats with 7.8 and 6.1 percent respectively.
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have issued a joint statement criticizing the possible postponement of their entry to the Schengen border-free zone. The statement says that a year long postponement of their admission to the Schengen region would incur considerable expenses in maintaining border security and would threaten the credibility of EU institutions in the newcomer states. The four central European leaders met in the Hungarian town of Visegrad on Tuesday to celebrate 15 years of regional cooperation within the Visegrad Four Group but political instability and upheavals in all four countries have thrown a damper on celebrations by the four leaders whose countries joined the EU in 2004 and who have been pooling their strength since in order to bolster their position as newcomers in the alliance.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is expected to resign from office on Wednesday, triggering the fall of his minority Civic Democrat government which lost a vote of confidence in the lower house earlier this month. President Klaus has said he would accept the Prime Minister's resignation but would ask his cabinet to remain in office until a new government can be appointed. Talks will then begin anew on the formation of a new Czech government and President Klaus said on Tuesday that he would start talks with the smaller parties first and then work his way to the big players. The president is not expected to appoint a new prime minister designate until after the local and Senate elections which are to be held on October 21st.
The Dalai Lama has called for more effective communication between the world's religious leaders as a means of preventing conflicts. Speaking at Forum 2,000 in Prague, the Tibetan spiritual leader said that religion made people better human beings but it was also at the heart of much suffering, bloodshed and conflict and that a clash of civilizations could be prevented by greater mutual respect and open dialogue. The role of religion in the present day was one of the main topics of the Forum 2,000 conference, a gathering of former politicians and cultural leaders in Prague.
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel has put forward the idea of a "global moral minimum" that could be adopted as a basis for the rules and norms of the coexistence of nations and supranational communities in the future world. Speaking at the Forum 2000 conference of world personalities in Prague on Monday, Mr Havel said he had already made several unsuccessful attempts at the creation of such a minimum and its adoption as a new official document, for instance on UN soil. This year, the annual conference focuses on the Dilemmas of Global Co-existence. Among the speakers are Belarusian opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich, Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Nobel Peace Prize laureates the Dalai Lama and US author Elie Wiesel.
Czech unemployment fell to 7.8 percent in September from 7.9 percent one month earlier, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced on Monday. A total 427,331 people were registered as jobless and fit to work at the end of September, the ministry said. In September 2005, unemployment stood at 8.8 percent, the ministry added. Economists had expected a slight fall in the September jobless figure due to ongoing seasonal employment and school leavers and graduates starting work. Wide regional differences in unemployment rates persist with Prague's eastern region having the lowest national figure at 2.3 percent and the northern town of Most the highest at 20.3 percent.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has joined the global condemnation of the underground nuclear test carried out by North Korea. In a statement, the ministry said that it was an irresponsible and regrettable act that would lead to further nuclear arms proliferation and threaten international security and stability in the world. The Foreign Ministry has called on North Korea to return to diplomatic negotiations within the six-party talks.
Czech psychiatrists have been reporting an increase in the prevalence of mental disorders in recent years. The most marked rise has been reported in patients with depression. According to the head of the Czech Psychiatric Society, Jiri Raboch, their number has doubled over the last decade. On the eve of World Mental Health day, Dr Raboch said some 1,500 Czechs commit suicide every year, with a significant proportion of them suffering from depression or having some type of addiction.
A district court in Prague has acquitted former Health Minister Marie Souckova of charges in the Diag Human case. Ms Souckova was charged with breach of trust and abuse of power for signing a contract between the ministry and lawyer Zdenek Novacek under which the ministry was to pay him up to 170 million crowns for his services if it won a legal case against the blood plasma trading company Diag Human. Ms Souckova faced between three and ten years in prison and a fine of 10 million crowns.
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