The Czech military has donated three Mi-17 transport helicopters to the Afghan air force in a bid to modernize the Central Asian nation’s fleet. The Afghan air force has already received three such helicopters from the Czech Defence Ministry in the last year. In addition, the Defence Ministry says it plans to provide Afghanistan with six combat helicopters by the end of 2009. The Czech Republic is working alongside the United States to build up the Afghan air force. America has pledged 120 planes to the Afghan military.
A new decree comes into effect in Prague on Tuesday which will see those who drop cigarette ends or chewing gum fined up to 30,000 crowns (nearly 2,000 USD). The decree is part of Prague City Hall’s bid to clean up the capital, but opponents say that the edict has not been properly publicized, and that tourists remain largely uninformed. Police will be given powers to hand out on-the-spot, thousand-crown, fines to those caught littering, feeding the pigeons and not cleaning up the soap suds after washing their cars. As punishment for larger infringements, individuals will be referred to the authorities.
The Czech Republic’s foreign debt rose in the first quarter of 2008 by 137 billion crowns (9 billion USD) year-on-year to 1,354 billion crowns (89.2 billion USD). This figure accounts for 37.4 percent of GDP. The Czech National Bank released the figures on Monday, linking the rise in foreign debt to a rise in the number of short term loans commercial banks had taken out since the start of the year.
The American private detective agency Kroll has finished auditing Deputy
Prime Minister Jiří Čunek’s finances, Hospodářské noviny reported
on Monday. The audit is now in the hands of Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg, who commissioned and paid for the investigation. Mr
Schwarzenberg has said that he will discuss the audit’s findings with
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and Jiří Čunek himself in ten days time,
after he has returned from an official visit to the Caucuses.
The leader of the Christian Democrats, Jiří Čunek, was forced to resign from his government posts last November, in connection with corruption allegations. The investigation into whether he accepted bribes was subsequently dropped, and Mr Čunek was able to return to the government. But coalition partners, the Greens, were not fully satisfied that Mr Čunek had cleared his name, and thus Green Party MP Karel Schwarzenberg paid for a private investigation into the corruption allegations.
Czech women’s tennis number one Nicole Vaidišová is through to the quarter finals at Wimbledon, having beaten the Russian Anna Chakvedatze in three sets on Monday. The last Czech in the tournament beat the championship’s eighth seed 4:6, 7:6, 6:3. Vaidišová now goes on to play China’s Jie Zheng in the quarter finals. Wimbledon marks a return to form for Vaidišová, who in the three months leading up to the tournament won only two matches.
A group of Czech police officers have left for Croatia, where they will be on hand to assist the vast number of Czech tourists who flock to the country on holiday each year. Some 14 Czech police officers set off for Split on Monday, where they will work alongside their Croatian counterparts until September 1. They will be joined by more Czech officers later in the season. The Czech police have been drafted in to help with traffic accidents in particular, but will also be expected to work as interpreters. Some 600,000 Czechs are expected to visit Croatia this year. Most are expected to visit Makarska and the Dalmatian coast.
Over 80 percent of Czech towns would like to implement more stringent gambling regulations, found a survey commissioned by the Minister for Minorities and Human Rights Džamila Stehlíková. Over 85 percent of towns polled said that the negative effects of gambling - such as crime - cost the municipality more than the profits generated through gambling tax. Minister Stehlíková’s poll comes weeks before a vote on new gambling laws. Deputies are set to discuss whether internet and mobile phone gambling should be outlawed, as well as whether casinos should be banned from opening near schools. According to Finance Ministry data, each adult Czech spends on average 12,900 crowns (852 USD) on gambling each year. There are thought to be around 100,000 gambling addicts in the Czech Republic.
A third man has been charged with disorderly conduct following Saturday’s gay rights march in Brno. The march, which was the first of its kind in the Czech Republic, was disrupted when an unknown perpetrator threw tear gas at revelers. Two of those arrested have been charged with disturbance of the peace, having thrown eggs at gay rights campaigners, the third man is charged with propagating Nazism, having worn an SS belt. An estimated 150 far-right extremists turned out to protest against Saturday’s march. Police are still searching for the individual who threw the tear gas, injuring 20.
Fifteen-year-old Jessica Korda has made Czech golf history, finishing joint 19th in the US Open golf tournament. Korda finished first in the final day’s play, catapulting her from 58th place comfortably into the top 20. In what was Korda’s first major tournament, the Czech golfer finished ahead of the world women’s number one, the Mexican Lorena Ochoa, and one of the favourites for the tournament, Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam. The daughter of former Czech tennis ace, Petr Korda, is the only Czech to have ever made the cut at the US Open.
Škoda Auto is to provide the Czech police force with over 2800 new vehicles in a deal worth over 1.32 billion crowns (87 million USD). On Monday, police officials signed a contract with the carmaker; both parties stressed that they were happy the Czech police would be driving a Czech-made car. Škoda is expected to deliver the first 500 vehicles by November this year, with the remaining cars to be delivered before the end of 2011. A police spokesperson said that there was an option in the contract for a further 700 cars to be supplied in the next four years.
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