Members of a family of three visiting the Prague Zoo on Friday were surprised to find themselves the millionth visitors at the zoo in 2006. It is only the second time in the zoo's 75-year-history that the rate of visitors has hit that number. The family - a young married couple and their three-year-old son - was awarded a number of prizes and a special tour. Last year, the zoo saw its highest attendance ever: 1.2 million. Organisers hope to reach 1.1 million this year.
Ahead of an informal EU summit on energy policy the Czech President Vaclav Klaus voiced strong words on EU dependence on Russian oil and natural gas, suggesting the EU should rethink its current energy policy. Currently one quarter of the EU's oil and natural gas come from Russia. According to Mr Klaus, if the EU is to strengthen its hand it will have to rely more on its own coal sources as well as nuclear energy. EU representatives have begun meeting at the informal summit in Finland, but Mr Klaus said he found it unlikely that the union would be able to agree on a joint position before welcoming Russia's President Vladimir Putin later on Friday.
Officials have revealed that customs officers on Thursday seized around 39 million crowns - the equivalent of around 1.8 million US dollars - worth of counterfeit goods during the checking of a shipment to Prague, as well as the investigating of an open-air market. The shipment revealed more than 8,000 pieces of fake brand-name clothing, while inspection at the market in the district of Prague 7 came up with almost 700 pieces of imitations goods and jewellery. It is the second-greatest amount of counterfeit goods seized in Prague in a single day.
Czechs have begun voting in Senate and local elections with polls opening at 1400 hours CET on Friday. Voting is taking place for local town and city councils and for a third of lawmakers in the 81-seat upper house of parliament, the Senate. The vote is seen as the first major test of public opinion since parliamentary elections proved inconclusive in June. A second round of senate elections will take place next weekend seeing a head-to-head between the two top-finishing candidates who failed to gain 50 percent of the vote in the first round. Polling stations will close at 14 hours CET on Saturday.
Czech league football champions Liberec got off to a good start in Group C action in the Uefa Cup's on Thursday evening. The team earned a deserved 0:0 tie against Spain's Sevilla, coming out strong and just missing several opportunities to take a lead - and all three points - in the game. The other Czech side in action on Thursday was Sparta Prague which also had chances but was downed 2:0 by Espanyol.
Prague's Mayor Pavel Bem has confirmed that anti-terrorism measures
taken in Prague - relaxed recently - came in connection with
celebrations of the Jewish New Year. Mr Bem made the statement on
Friday, saying that that Jewish facilities in the city centre had been
considered potential targets. Until now, politicians had avoided
officially confirming speculation by the media concerning potential
Last month the Civic Democrat minority government led by Mirek Topolanek issued extraordinary security measures after the cabinet received supposedly concrete information about the threat of potential attacks. The security measures were softened at the beginning of this week. Policemen continue monitoring some buildings in the capital, though their number has been lowered. Deputy police president Jan Brazda revealed that police concluded the situation had improved considerably.
Former deputy local development ministr Vera Jourova, who has been
accused of mishandling EU structural funds told police investigators on
Thursday that she acted under indirect pressure from the former Social
Democrat prime ministr Jiri Paroubek. Mrs. Jourova said that Mr.
Paroubek's assistent Martin Vlasta relayed the prime minister's orders
which were that she should favour certain applicants. Besides Vera
Jourova, three men have been accused of corruption in the same case.
They are Zdenek Dolezel, a former senior aide to two former Social
Democrat prime ministers, Ladislav Peta, mayor of the town of Budisov,
and Miloslav Rehulka, an Agriculture Ministry employee. All three have
been in custody since Friday.
The former prime minister and Social Democrat leader has reacted with anger to the accusations saying that they were a pack of lies intended to discredit him in the eyes of the public. He is also demanding an investigation into who leaked the police records to the media.
Three baby giraffes have died in a stampede as a result of a massive power failure in eastern Bohemia. A spokesperson for the Hradec Kralove Zoo said that the sudden blaze of lights when power was restored threw the animals into a panic and the baby giraffes were trampled in the stampede. The zoo is said to have sustained 400, 000 crowns in damages as a result of the black out. The power cut in eastern Bohemia affected some 180,000 homes and is said to have been the worst in 15 years.
President Vaclav Klaus indicated on Thursday that talks on forming a new
government could soon produce results. In the course of the past week the
president met with representatives of four parliamentary parties -the
Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the
Green Party - in order to ascertain their position on a future government
set up. He is expected to meet with representatives of the Communist Party
next Tuesday after which Mr. Klaus should announce who he will entrust with
the task of forming a new government.
Green Party representatives with whom he met on Thursday have put forward two possible solutions both of which lead to early elections in 2007. Party leader Martin Bursik said that in the meantime the country should be governed by a caretaker government which would be acceptable to all.
Czech hospitals may be applying a double standard to Czech and foreign patients. According to the daily Lidove Noviny many hospitals, including state-run facilities, charge foreign patients higher medical fees. The paper said this was the case in five out of eight hospitals which it checked out. The cases all concerned services that are not covered by health insurance. The Health Ministry has said it would look into the matter immediately.
Demonstrations held in 11 cities over election of Communist MP Ondráček to chairman post
National Museum discovers fake gems in its collection
Czech Republic caught up in plastic waste disposal crisis in Europe
President Zeman’s Chinese advisor arrested
Growing concern over plight of leading Chinese investor in the Czech Republic