A team of US congressmen specialized in democratization of Cuba will arrive in Prague on Monday for a two-day visit. They are scheduled to meet with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Czech ambassador to Cuba and members of non-profit organizations. The Czech Republic belongs among the biggest critics of Cuban regime and has been long promoting human rights and political freedoms in Cuba.
The country's largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, will propose a bill to the lower house in September restricting the funding of election campaigns. The exact sum should ensue from the deputies' debate, but it could range between millions and ten millions of crowns. Last year, the Social Democrats invested a total of 260 million crowns (13,000 USD) for their election campaigns. They say the proposal is mainly designed to protect smaller parties.
The largest ruling coalition party, the Civic Democrats, are preparing changes in the lower house that would enable them to occupy the posts of chairmen of key committees that are now dominated by the opposition, Lidove Noviny reported. At present, the budget, health and controlling committee are headed by opposition Social Democrats and Communists. The Civic Democrats would also like to change the number of deputies in the committees, which now have an equal representation of the opposition and the coalition members.
Playwright and former Czech president Vaclav Havel withdrew his new drama Odchazeni (Leaving) from the National Theatre, which was to have produced the play in May 2008. The theatre refused to cast his wife, actress Dagmar Havlova, in a leading role. Meanwhile, other Czech as well as foreign theatres have expressed their interest in staging the long awaited play.
Some 20 members and followers of the Czech extreme right National Corporativism group staged a demonstration on Saturday afternoon at the Moravian town of Holesov. The group marched from the railway station to the local square, being shadowed by anti-fascist supporters, but no violence was reported. The event was monitored by the police.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus visited the annual international exhibition Zeme Zivitelka (Nourishing Earth) which takes place in Ceske Budejovice in South Bohemia. The Czech head of state awarded the best local food producers, using the opportunity to criticize the agricultural policy of the European Union, which is, according to him, dominated by too many regulations and quota. More than 700 exhibitors from all over the world attended the exhibition, which has entered its 34th year.
The "No to Bases" civic initiative staged a protest march
against the possible stationing of a US radar base in the Brdy military
zone on Saturday afternoon. Some 200 people attended the protest march,
which took place at the planned location of the radar base.
Earlier this week, mayors from municipalities near the Brdy military grounds formed an association of towns and villages opposed to the deployment of a US radar base to the Czech Republic. If the Czech Republic and the US find agreement in negotiations, the radar base could be stationed at the Brdy military zone near Misov, west Bohemia, some 90 kilometres southwest of Prague.
According to Czech cancer specialists, the Czech Republic ranks in about the middle of a list of 20 European countries, together with the USA, for successful cancer treatment and not at its bottom as was recently reported by one survey. The Czech Oncological Society made the statement on Friday, reacting to the recently published Eurocare-4 study, which ranked the Czech Republic among the worst states on the list for cancer treatment. The head of the Czech Onolcogical society, Jiri Vorlicek, told CTK, the Czech news agency, that this was because Czech authorities had provided only partial data for the European study. The health ministry has promised oncologists such a mistake will not be repeated. Mr Vorlicek said that the oncologists' data is based on the national oncological register comprising the whole population. He added that cancer patients and their families were terrified to hear news about small chances of treatment, before they were told those were are at least the same or even better than in some countries.
MP Ludvik Hovorka, of coalition-members the Christian Democrats, has called for a referendum on a US radar base which could be stationed in the Czech Republic. His position directly counters that of Mirek Topolanek's government, which is not in favour of a plebiscite on the issue. The MP told the Friday edition of the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes that if it came down to a referendum he would "probably vote against". If the issue were resolved in a parliamentary vote, Mlada Fronta Dnes notes, the coalition government would need to find votes elsewhere for the proposal to pass. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who along with the government has tentatively backed plans for the base, has said that he will try to convince Mr Hovorka to change his position.
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