The Czech national football team beat the host Switzerland 1:0 in the opening match of Euro 2008 in Basel on Saturday. The Swiss were better throughout much of the game but were unable to convert any of several opportunities, mainly due to the Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech who showed some spectacular saves. The decisive moment came in the 70th minute when Václav Svěrkoš, who had replaced another striker Jan Koler shortly before, scored the only goal of the game. In their next appearance at Euro 2008, the Czech Republic will face Portugal on Wednesday.
Some 300 activists protested against uranium mining near Liberec, northern Bohemia, on Saturday, despite a recent denial by the Environment Ministry to conduct preliminary tests in the area. Local inhabitants, mayors of nearby communities as well as environmental activists oppose any possible plans to launch uranium mining in northern Bohemia, a region with an estimated 20,000 tons of uranium ore.
Czech soldiers may not refuse serving in the army’s foreign missions, a spokesperson for the General Staff of the Army said on Saturday. Any such refusal would be considered a breach of their basic duties and might result in dismissals of the reluctant army officers. Several media outlets in the Czech Republic recently reported that Czech helicopter pilots were leaving the armed forces to avoid serving on missions in Afghanistan. An anonymous pilot told TV Nova on Thursday that he never thought he would be sent to what he described as “a regular war.” The Czech Army is currently taking part in international peace-keeping and reconstruction missions in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Nine out of ten Czechs over 15 years of age use cell phones, according to a poll carried out by the Factum Invenio agency. The most popular cell phone makes with Czechs are Nokia, with almost a 50 per cent share of the marker, followed by Sony Ericsson and Siemens. At the end of the first quarter of 2008, Czechs had 13.1 million cell phones, which is 126 phones per 100 people.
Prague Mayor Pavel Bém said he would like to change the controversial theatre subsidy system in the Czech capital. Earlier this year, Prague City Hall came up with a new system of financing Prague’s theatres and other art scenes which tied subsidies to ticket sales. The system has been criticized for not distinguishing between genuine art and commercial projects catering to tourists. Last month, many of Prague's theatres staged a week of protests against the programme and were also backed by playwright and former Czech President Václav Havel.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told the daily Mlada fronta Dnes on
Saturday that his coalition government was on the verge of collapse. Mr
Topolánek said that if the current coalition, consisting of the Civic
Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens, does not undergo “a
catharsis” over the summer, the government might fall.
Several MPs in each of the coalition parties have repeatedly voted against drafts prepared by the government. While rebels within the right-wing Civic Democrats object to way the restitution of church property was calculated, some Christian Democrats and Greens oppose the government’s health care reform as well as the planned Czech-American treaty on siting a U.S. tracking radar base on Czech territory.
Saturday marks the Tax Freedom Day in the Czech Republic, three days earlier than last year, the Liberal Institute think-tank reported. Tax Freedom Day is the day on which Czech taxpayers stop working for the government and start earning money for themselves. This year, the government collects more than 43 percent of individual and corporate incomes.
More than 100 pigs, found starving and in appalling conditions on a farm near Jihlava this week, have been put down. The order was put forward by the regional authorities. When discovered the animals had no water or feed but the farm’s owner denied maltreating them. The remains of more than 200 additional specimens were uncovered decomposing on the site. The authorities in the region called the case the worst animal abuse they had seen in 35 years. Police are continuing to investigate; if charged and found guilty of animal abuse the farm owner could see a fine, a ban from further activities, as well as a year in prison.
The Senate has approved an amendment on the registered partnership law that will considerably soften the conditions for foreigners wanting to marry or enter into registered partnership in the Czech Republic. The amendment was approved by 25 out of 46 senators present. The original government draft embedded stricter conditions in order to come down on fictitious marriages. Now, the legislation could allow foreigners even at risk of being expelled to enter into marriage in the Czech Republic. The bill will still need to be signed by the president before coming into law.