Most Czechs are against the possible lifting of environmental limits for brown coal mining in north Bohemia according to a poll conducted by the Centre for Public Opinion Research. According to the poll 66 percent of respondents said they approved of the set limits, eight percent would be in favour of extending coal mining to other localities in the region. If the set limits were lifted mining could take place in currently protected areas and two towns would have to give way to the enterprise. On the other hand the Mostecka Uhelna Mining Company has warned people in the region that unless this is done 8,000 miners could lose their jobs within the next decade.
It has come to light that former Czech foreign minister Jaroslav Sedivy worked for the communist secret police. Mr. Sedivy, who served as foreign minister in Josef Tosovsky's caretaker cabinet in 1997 to 1998, has confirmed the allegations, saying that he had worked with the military counterintelligence service from October 1953 to November of 1954 while he was doing his military service. "I was obeying commands as any other soldier and had no obligations to the service or contacts with these people afterwards" Mr. Sedivy said. Former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier said he had known about Sedivy's past. "As a soldier in national service, he had no choice, therefore it did not pose any problem to me" Mr. Dienstbier said in his colleague's defense.
Czech Railways has warned that a planned strike by German train drivers on Tuesday could affect passengers in the Czech Republic. According to a Czech railways spokesman the strike is planned from 5am to 9 am on Tuesday which means that trains from Germany could be delayed in the course of the morning. Close to half of Germany's 20,000 train drivers are expected to join the strike in support of higher wages.
Daniel Tousek, deputy local development minister in charge of money from EU funds is the majority owner of a firm advising clients on how to best gain EU subsidies, according to the online daily Aktualne.cz. Tousek's superior, Local Development Minister Jiri Cunek allegedly knows about this and says there is no reason to fear a clash of interests. However Daniel Tousek is likely to come under media pressure to resign. David Seich, a deputy for the Civic Democratic Party recently had to resign from the lower house's European Affairs Committee when it emerged that he owned a company advising clients on how to draw money from EU funds.
The police have arrested a six member gang believed to have been involved in racketeering local businessmen in the Karlovy Vary and Sokolov regions, in western Bohemia. Police spokeswoman Blanka Kosinova said the gang-members had been charged with conspiracy, blackmail, causing grievous bodily harm and bribery. She said the number of detained might not be final.
A road safety operation held in the course of the past week - in connection with the beginning of the school holidays - has revealed that roughly one in six drivers break traffic regulations. A police spokesperson said the most common offense was speeding and a great many drivers and passengers allegedly fail to use their safety belts. In related news, statistics have revealed that 106 people died on Czech roads in the month of June, the highest number of road accident deaths since November 2005. Traditionally June ranks as one of the most dangerous months on Czech roads.
The Czech law on heritage protection is too soft to save the country's numerous architectural treasures, according to Monday's edition of Lidove Noviny. The paper says that while some treasures are being properly looked after, others are in a dilapidated condition and there is no way of forcing their owners to invest in them. Although the law on heritage protection states that the owner of such a building is obliged to provide for maintenance, keep it in good condition and protect it from devaluation Lidove Noviny claims that in practice it is almost impossible to enforce. Michal Zachar, director of the National Heritage Institute explained that if the heritage owner showed at least a minimal interest in the building - such as repairing a chimney - then the authorities could not fine him for neglecting his duty. Zachar told the paper that in the past ten years the heritage protection authorities had imposed only one high fine to the tune of one million Czech crowns.
A court in Johannesburg is to decide on Tuesday whether Czech fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir will be released on bail or extradited to the Czech Republic. Radovan Krejcir is wanted in the Czech Republic for extensive fraud and conspiracy to murder. In 2005 he fled the Czech Republic, escaping with his family while the police were raiding his villa, and started a new life in the Seychelles where he had acquired citizenship. He was arrested on an Interpol warrant in Johannesburg in April when trying to make a secret trip to South Africa.
Former president Vaclav Havel, speaking on a TV debate programme on Sunday, has suggested parties should get their act together if they wish to field a strong candidate in next year's presidential elections. Anyone vying for the post of president will face current Czech head-of-state Vaclav Klaus, who, polls have repeatedly suggested, remains one of the country's most popular political figures. Mr Klaus announced his intention to seek re-election back in February. Mr Havel suggested on Sunday that a younger candidate than someone of his and Milos Zeman's generation should be fielded, adding it would be "excellent" if a woman ran. He said he thought that the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens should agree on a joint candidate.
Experts from UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, meeting in New Zealand, have suggested Prague should reconsider the planned construction of several new skyscrapers in part of the city. The Committee said plans should respect the skyline of Prague's historic core. Lada Pekarkova, from Prague city hall's heritage department announced the news on Saturday. Currently, developers are preparing to build several new skyscrapers in Prague's Pankrac neighbourhood; local associations have protested against the idea. The International Council on Monuments and Sites, an advisory body to UNESCO, is reportedly also against. Ms Pekarkova said a final position would be taken at the end of the committee's session, which would be conveyed to the Czech Republic through diplomatic channels.
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