The Czech Footwear Association says imports of shoes grew by 25 percent year-on-year in 2006. The amount of shoes imported last year reached 97 million pairs worth 8.5 billion crowns (390 million USD), with China taking the largest share. For several years, domestic producers have blamed cheap imports from Asia for their bad economic situation. Czech production stayed at 5 million pairs, the same as in 2005.
President Vaclav Klaus has begun an official visit to Japan. On Wednesday, Mr Klaus and his wife Livia will be received by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. During his stay, Mr Klaus is also due to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and a delegation of business people representing 14 Czech companies are accompanying President Klaus on his visit.
Culture Minister Vaclav Jehlicka visited the Moravian town of Prerov on Monday to support local officials who are trying to halt demolition work on a historical building. The Culture Ministry wants to put the early 20th century building back on the list of cultural monuments after having removed it six months ago. In the meantime, however, a local building firm had begun work on demolishing the building despite protests from architectural experts and the Culture Ministry.
The Czech anti-trust office has announced it has fined nine international engineering companies for being involved in a price cartel between 2001 and 2004. The companies, which include Alstom, Siemens and Toshiba can now appeal against the fine of almost one billion crowns (45 million US dollars). Earlier this year, the European Commission imposed a fine on the companies for the same reason.
Czech police have announced that they want to charge controversial entrepreneur Tomas Pitr with insider trading, according to the Pravo daily. Mr Pitr is suspected of siphoning off 750 million Czech crowns (around 34.5 million US dollars) from the Agrocredit food company when he was chairman of its board. If found guilty, he could face up to 12 years in jail. Mr Pitr has already been sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion, but has not yet had to serve his sentence because of apparent health problems.
A second police officer, suspected of selling the photographs of the dead body of composer Karel Svoboda to a tabloid newspaper, has been charged with abuse of office. Police took the photographs after Mr Svoboda committed suicide two weeks ago. The 32-year old officer had been in the police for 15 years. A 22-year old police officer was charged with abuse of office last week, both have been sacked from the police force.
The leadership of the Green Party including chairman Martin Bursik says it will step down and ask for re-election at the upcoming party convention this weekend. The deputy head of the party, Education Minister Dana Kuchtova, says the party is now in a different situation after joining the coalition government and therefore the leadership is seeking confirmation from party members.
Deputy prime minister, senator and Christian Democrat leader Jiri Cunek has filed a complaint with police regarding bribery charges that have been made against him. A spokesman for the Christian Democrats said on Monday evening the complaint was filed by Mr Cunek's lawyer. Mr Cunek was charged with corruption on Friday. Police suspect him of taking a bribe from a real estate developer when he was mayor of the town of Vsetin five years ago. Earlier Mr Cunek said he would not consider resigning until the state prosecutor's office decided whether or not to proceed with the case. The Senate stripped Mr Cunek of his parliamentary immunity last week.
Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes reports that former Czech prime minister and central bank governor Josef Tosovsky collaborated with the communist secret police (StB). The paper says Mr Tosovsky had been approached by the StB in 1986 and maintained contacts with them for the next two years. His work for the StB seemed to consist of expert analyses of financial markets and assessing foreign visits to the Czechoslovak State Bank. There is no evidence that Mr Tosovsky's alleged cooperation ever led to anyone being prosecuted by the secret police.
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