Ebanka, the decade old Czech bank has finally cased to exist, after completing its merger with Austrian Raffeisenbank. The bank was bought in 2006, and then began a long process of integration with that company, which was officially completed today. However, nostalgic clients will still be able to find Ebanka banks for a few more weeks until the rebranding exercise is completed. All major Czech banks are now majority-owned by foreign companies.
Details of the controversial agreement which will allow the US to deploy a missile-defence radar on Czech soil have been leaked to the press. The leak comes a day before the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to sign the document in Prague, during a visit to Europe. At present, the agreement has been approved by the government, but still needs to be ratified by parliament. The agreement gives a nod to multilateral NATO commitments, but also re-affirms the bilateral nature of the anti-missile system. Up to 250 American personnel are permitted at the site in the Czech military base in Brdy, but the document also allows for a Czech overseer to be based at the site. The document also gives a two-year termination notice requirement, should either party wish to withdraw from the agreement.
A newly released study conducted by the Institute for Information in Education (UIV) has found that violence and the possession of firearms remains extremely low in Czech schools. The survey suggests that around one fifth of schools have come across knives at all over the past three years, while only one percent of schools reported an incident involving a firearm. Despite slightly poorer results compared to the previous year, the survey nonetheless affirms that violent incidents, including attacks on teachers remain very rare in the Czech republic.
Foreign drug-addicts from countries such as Russia, Poland and Ukraine are causing increasing concerns among the Czech authorities, according to the Czech daily Mladá Fronta Dnes. Diseases, including HIV and hepatitis are a particular problem for these addicts, with many people turning to drugs after failing to find work in the country. Another theory put forward by experts is that some addicts come to the Czech Republic to escape draconian anti-drug laws, such as those which exist in Poland. It is also believed that many of the addicts are already infected with diseases before entering the country. At present, Prague is experiencing a ten fold increase in cases of Hepatitis-A among drug users.
A law that severely restricts drinking in public places has come into effect in the city of Prague. The law, passed by the city’s municipal authorities gives the police some leeway to deal with public drinking. An immediate on the spot fine of up to 1000 crowns can be levied, while the fine can go as high as 30,000 crowns if the matter goes to court. The ban is not absolute, and gauges the seriousness of the offence against various factors. Drinking near schools, metro stations and hospitals will be considered most serious, while drinking near food vendors and pubs will be permitted. The move is primarily intended to cut down on the number of derelicts who frequently drink around the streets of Prague.
A proposed golf course in the town of Klánovice near Prague has met with a wave of around 100 demonstrators opposing its construction. The golf course would be built in an area that is currently a forest, and would attempt to replicate a similar course which once existed there before the Second World War. The protesters have the support of the town’s major, who called the plan “outrageous” and dismissed notions of historical restoration as “empty clichés.” The entire saga has been dragging on for a number of years, although at present, it looks likely that the company involved will secure a lease on the land.
New statistics from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs indicate that the number of abused children in the Czech Republic has grown by 16 percent. Last year, according to official figures, 588 children were reported physically abused, while 617 suffered mental abuse and 679 were abused sexually. It remains unclear whether this represents a trend of increased abuse or increased reporting of abuse to the authorities. The figures come in the wake of a new story of child abuse in the town of Beroun, where a family reportedly kept their pre-school children on a leash, while filming the horrific abuse.
Sales of cars have climbed by nine percent, while sales of light utility vehicles are up by 13 percent, according to figures quoted by the Car Importers Association today. Škoda remains the most popular car in the country with Ford models coming in second, albeit with less than a quarter of Škoda’s sales. The rise in sales is attributed to strong rising living standards as well as a fall in prices of automobiles. Motorcycle and bus sales are also up.
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