Joint-stock company Czech Railways will, for the first time, be fined by regional authorities for delays of trains subsidised from the regional budget. The region involved is that of Olomouc, in Moravia. The company is to be fined 5.5 million crowns in line with a contract on railway transport and provisions for sanctions included. Regional councillor Petr Polasek made the news public on Friday. He said the situation with railway transport had become critical, citing 60 late trains in the region in May, and 50 in September.
The European Commission has raised its estimate for the Czech Republic's
GDP growth for 2007. The EC made the announcement on Friday, raising an
earlier estimate of 4.9 percent to 5.8. At the same time, the commission
warned that Czech GDP growth will slow in the next two years. The new rate
by the commission is closer to the Czech Finance Ministry's own, lower by
just one percentage point. The commission said that this year's growth has
been driven by strong consumer demand, rising thanks to increasing wages,
falling unemployment, and low inflation. Industrial production,
particularly the production of cars, electronics, and transport equipment
are dominant factors in the rise.
In other numbers on Friday, the EC revised its estimate for inflation for 2007, raising its forecast from 2.4 to 3 percent.
Ice hockey goalie Milan Hnilicka - a former NHL player employed at Liberec - is bound for Russia. Hnilicka is leaving the Bili Tigri (White Tigers) for Russian team Ufa. The announcement was made on the team's website on Friday. At 34, Hnilicka is an experienced goaltender who won the World Championship three times. He was also 2nd backup keeper to Dominik Hasek on the national team which won the Nagano Olympics in 1998.
The Czech Army has commemorated the sacrifice of soldiers ahead of Veterans Day on November 11th. At a ceremony in Prague 6 on Friday, the military- marked the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I. The ceremony was attended by around two dozen veterans in uniform as well as civilian dress. The half-hour event was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra. Other ceremonies recognising veterans' contributions are also being held in other parts of the Czech Republic.
Prague Mayor Pavel Bem has come out strongly against a proposed 50 percent rise in the cost of fare on the city's transport network, saying it was "unacceptable". Under the proposal, the price of a monthly travel card could increase by 39 % while a single transfer ticket would cost 30 crowns - a rise of 50 %. The Prague Public Transport Authority would like to increase revenues to meet higher energy prices as well as to be able to cover new investment in services. The proposed tariff hike would help bring in an extra 850 million crowns (the equivalent of almost 47 million US dollars). City councillors are to discuss the proposals next week but the transport authority will reportedly provide the mayor with an alternative plan later on Friday.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus has renewed earlier criticism of environmentalists including former US vice president Al Gore - recently jointly-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in publicising the issue of global warming. In an interview for the German news agency DPA, Mr Klaus said "the Rubicon had been crossed" when Mr Gore received the Nobel Prize, saying that in his view "propaganda" on the climate had become "official world doctrine" as a result. Mr Klaus, a sceptic of the human impact on climate change, also defended nuclear energy in the interview, saying the belief in other energy sources was "irrational". He made the latest statements on the eve of the German release of his book "A Blue, Not Green, Planet".
Police say they expect hundreds of right-wing extremists from both the Czech Republic and abroad, to descend on Prague on Saturday, November 10th - the anniversary of the Nazi pogrom Kristallnacht which targeted Jews in Germany in 1938. Right-wing radicals have said they plan on going ahead with a march through the city's Jewish quarter, despite a ban by the city. City Hall has already made clear it will break up any unauthorised demonstration on the spot. Some 1,400 police officers will be out in force on Saturday for that reason, as well as to try and prevent potential clashes between right-wing protestors and opposition groups. The latter have promised to block the neo-Nazis' path.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel presented his latest play Odchazeni (The Leaving) in book form at a Prague theatre on Wednesday. Mr Havel said the story of a man leaving a high-ranking position had nothing to do with his own departure as Czech president in 2003, as he had started to write it in the 1980s. Vaclav Havel's play is to premiere at Prague's Na Vinohradech theatre in late May or early June with his wife Dagmar Havlova starring in one of the leading roles.