Prime ministers of the Visegrad Four countries and Slovenia don’t have a joint position on the future of Kosovo, whose leaders have threatened to declare independence from Serbia. On the second day of an informal meeting in the north Bohemian town of Ostrava, the Czech, Polish, Slovak and Slovenian prime ministers agreed that the European Union should deal with Kosovo’s future while taking into account the demands of Serbia. The five heads of state also discussed the EU reform treaty and agreed that its ratification needs to be accelerated.
The number of Czechs charged with possessing marihuana is increasing, according to data released by the Justice Ministry and quoted in Lidove noviny. In the first nine months of this year, 474 people who grow cannabis for their own use were charged, compared to 366 for the whole of last year. The number of people being prosecuted for marihuana possession is increasing as well. Meanwhile, calls for legalization of marihuana among the lower house deputies are growing stronger.
The Czech unemployment rate has fallen to 5.6 % in November, which is the lowest level in the past nine years, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry announced on Monday. The number of people looking for jobs dropped by more than 8, 000 compared to the preceding month. Currently some 312, 000 people are looking for jobs and there are on average 2.4 applicants for every vacancy.
Following the publication of the November inflation rate, the Czech currency reached an all-time high against the euro on Monday, going below 26 crowns to the euro for the first time ever. At one point the crown traded at 25, 97 against the euro. The Czech currency has also gained against the US currency, trading at 17.79 crowns to the dollar.
Czech singer and pianist Maketa Irglova and Irish musician Glen Hansard on Sunday received the Los Angeles Film Critics Association best soundtrack award for the Irish film Once. The LAFCA prizes are regarded as the first indicators of what films could succeed in the battle for the Oscars. In January, the low budget film Once with Irglova and Hansard in the lead roles, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Czech Republic has returned 80 kilograms of highly enriched uranium in spent nuclear fuel to Russia in order to reduce stockpiles of nuclear material worldwide and to lower the misuse of nuclear materials for terrorist purposes. The spent fuel from the Czech Nuclear Research Institute was shipped on December 1 and reached Russia on Saturday. It was the biggest shipment returning Russian-origin fuel in line with an agreement between the U.S. and Russia on enhanced nuclear security cooperation.
Five Czechs died when the plane they were flying in crashed near the airport in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Sunday. The aircraft belonged to a Czech airline company called Fun Air from Karlovy Vary. The dead included the aircraft’s two pilots, a married couple and another woman. One of the victims was the company’s owner Miroslav Jager. The plane had been flying from Hradec Kralove to Kiev when it came down by a motorway near the airport; it then went on fire. The Ukrainian authorities have suggested pilot error may have been responsible for the accident.
Year-on-year inflation increased from 4% in October to 5% in November, the Czech Statistical Office said on Monday. It is the highest rate since August 2001, when the inflation reached 5.5%. Prices of food products and, to a lesser extent, also beer and fuel were behind the accelerated inflation. Experts say the peak of inflation is yet to come. It is expected to break the 6% level at the beginning of the next year.
The state attorney in charge of the case of Frantisek Prochazka, a former security agency employee suspected of having stolen 560 million crowns (over USD 31 million) from his employer, has proposed that an international arrest warrant be issued for his arrest. The sum, which was taken from the agency’s premises in Prague, is the biggest cash robbery in the history of the country. A European warrant for Mr Prochazka was issued last week.
The attorney for Ludmila Brozova-Polednova, a former prosecutor from the show trial with Milada Horakova, will appeal a verdict under which Mrs Polednova was sentenced to eight years in prison for judicial murder. Ludmila Brozova-Polednova, who is now 86, sat on the panel that condemned the democratic politician Milada Horakova to death in 1950, under the Czechoslovak Communist regime. Mrs Horakova was the only woman ever to be executed in communist Czechoslovakia for political reasons.
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President Zeman’s Chinese advisor arrested
Growing concern over plight of leading Chinese investor in the Czech Republic