Central Europe's biggest car producer, Czech-based Skoda Auto, sold a record 462,429 vehicles in the first nine months of the year, 12.6 percent more than during the same period in 2006, the company announced on Thursday. Highest sales were in western Europe with 249,555 vehicles sold, or 9.0 percent more than in 2006, Skoda said. The car producer, which is the Czech Republic's principal exporter, is struggling to meet strong demand and recently announced that its best-selling Octavia model would be produced using spare capacity at Volkswagen's plant in neighbouring Slovakia.
Czech public television has threatened champions Sparta Prague with a ban unless they put a stop to anti-Semitic slogans being brandished by groups of their fans during matches. During the last match, on Monday, a certain section of the clubs fans unfurled a banner aimed at Sparta's bitter city rivals Slavia Prague which contained the word "Jude" - German for Jew - while the fans chanted the same word. Czech TV swung its camera away and cut the sound from its live transmission and it has now said that any repeat incident will result in a ban from its airwaves.
Czech manager Karel Bruckner on Thursday called up Sparta Prague defender Jiri Kladrubsky into the squad for the Euro-2008 qualifier against Germany in Munich on October 17. The 21-year-old Letna defender will figure in the senior team for the first time. Kladrubsky has played for the under-21 team, notably in June's European championships.
Former education minister Dana Kuchtova has criticized the fact that the candidate whose name she put forward as her successor in office had been peremptorily rejected by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The prime minister said on Wednesday he would not accept Dusan Luzny as a possible candidate because he was co-responsible for the managerial mistakes made by the former minister Kuchtova. Dusan Luzny is a member of the Green Party and its leadership approved his candidacy at a party conference last weekend. Observers say that a new minister must be chosen without delay if the ministry is to have any chance of salvaging its share of EU finds.
The Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal by a father who has fought a 16-year-long battle to be allowed to see his son. The court upheld an earlier ruling by the Prague Court according to which Vaclav Kriz was only allowed to write to his son. The boy has been caught in a tug of war between his parents for 16 years and Kriz says he does not believe that he will be able to have regular contact with his child before his eighteenth birthday, when he will officially come of age. The judge said that the ruling of the Prague Court was fully justified in view of the testimonies presented, including a detailed report by a psychologist.
Tomas Plekanec scored his first goal for the Montreal Canadiens in NHL ice hockey action on Wednesday, helping lift his team 3:2 over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The player, a 20 goal-scorer last season, scored a game-tying goal in a game that was the NHL debut of the Canadiens' rookie goaltender Carey Price. The game-winner was then scored by Russian team mate Andrei Markov. The Canadiens have now won two and lost once in overtime in the first three match-ups of the season.
Central and East European leaders voiced anxiety on Thursday over Russia's use of its massive energy resources to enforce its foreign policy goals and called for efforts to diversify their sources supply. Unjust manipulation or interruption of energy supplies is as much a security threat as is military action," Czech Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said at a conference in Vilnius involving the presidents of six countries. Participants backed closer cooperation between Europe, the United States, the Caspian and the Black Sea regions to bring energy from Central Asia and the South Caucasus to Europe. They agreed this was "crucial for reliable and diverse energy flows into the European Union". Russia is the source of a quarter of Europe's gas.
The Czech National Library has halted preparations for a new library building designed by Czech-born architect Jan Kaplicky. The library's director Vlastimil Jezek made the decision in response to growing opposition from city councilors for the Civic Democratic Party. The project's opponents have a majority in Prague City Hall and could easily outvote the opposition. The council is due to vote on the new library building early next year. Kaplicky, who is recognized around the world for his highly-avante garde designs, expressed disillusionment with the situation.
Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek will continue to represent his country in the Davis Cup after signing a one year contract with the local organizers, they announced on Wednesday. Stepanek ended a three year self-imposed exile from the national team in September to clinch a win over Switzerland in the last of the five matches but refused at the time to say whether he would continue playing Davis Cup tennis. The 3-2 win kept the Czechs at the top level of the world team competition.
The Czech Postal Service is to raise its prices as of January 2008, reported Hospadarske Noviny on Wednesday. The newspaper added that the postal service's plans had already been approved by the Czech Finance Ministry. A spokesperson for the postal service attributed the rise in tariffs to the increased cost of fuel, energy, and employees' wages. As a state institution, Ceska posta (or the Czech Postal Service) is only allowed to raise its prices once every three years. January 2008 will see the delivery of a normal letter rising in cost from 7.5 CZK to 10 CZK. The biggest leap in price will be for registered post - the cost of sending a registered letter will go up from 19 crowns to 26 CZK. The Czech Finance Ministry has leant its support to the move. A spokesperson for the Ministry said that the price-rise was in-line with the Ministry's plan to privatize the postal service, which it didn't want to do while Ceska posta was in the red.
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