Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has rejected request by Education Minister Ondřej Liška for an additional funding for universities amounting to two billion crowns (approximately 120 million US dollars). Mr Topolánek said the money could be acquired by reassessing the distribution of means in the budget of the Education Ministry. Ondřej Liška justified his request by pointing to the growing number of university students. He also stressed that the annual state allowance per student in 2009 will be lower than in the previous years.
Czech-US talks on the SOFA treaty concerning the presence of US personnel at the planned radar base on Czech soil will continue simultaneously in the Czech Republic and in the US at the end of next week, Deputy Defence Minister Martin Barták said. Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová said earlier this week that the bilateral SOFA agreement will soon be completed. The Czech and the US in July signed the main treaty on the radar base. The ratification process of both treaties in Czech parliament might be completed by the end of this year.
Repair work on one of the most important examples of modern architecture in the Czech Republic, Brno’s Villa Tugendhat, will be delayed. The antimonopoly office on Thursday ruled that the tender for restoration of the functionalist villa had been conducted improperly. The authorities in Brno now have two months to either select another bidder or call a new competition. The Villa Tugendhat was designed by renowned German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1928. The building has belonged to the city of Brno since 1994 and local authorities have been planning a comprehensive renovation for several years.
The minister of culture, Václav Jehlička, is planning to sack the head of the National Library, Vlastimil Ježek, the Czech News Agency reported. The move is believed to be connected with a dispute over a planned new national library building. Mr Ježek refused to abrogate the international competition for the new library building last year, saying such a move could lead to an arbitration dispute. A design by renowned Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický was originally chosen as the winner in the competition and was to have stood on Prague’s Letná plain, but the project lost the backing of City Hall, in a dispute over land and funds.
Two hundred candidates will run for the seats in the Senate elections this autumn, in which one third of the Senate - 27 of the 81 Senators - are to be replaced. The deadline for the registration of the candidates expired on Friday. Altogether 31 parties and movements have fielded their candidates. Only three parties, the Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats and the Communists have fielded their candidates in all 27 constituencies. Out of the 27 senators whose mandate expires in the autumn, 20 will seek re-election.
Slavia Praha striker Tomáš Necid will move to Russian club CSKA Moscow, the Czech club announced on Friday. Necid will play for Slavia until the end of the year before moving to Moscow. The club did not disclose financial details of the transfer. Necid was the highest scorer at the 2008 Under-19 European Championship in July with four goals, helping the Czech team to reach the semi-finals. The 19-year-old is Slavia’s top scorer this season with three goals from four matches.
The trial of two Czech entomologists, who were detained in north-east India last month for the alleged collecting of rare insects, will continue on Saturday. Emil Kučera and Petr Švácha were arrested near India’s Singalila National Park on 23 June for collecting rare insects in the park without a permit. The two men spent a month in prison and a month on bail before their case reached trial on Monday. Recent reports revealed both men had signed several blank documents when first taken into custody, which were later passed off as their confessions. The two Czechs on Friday denied all the charges against them.
The number of Czechs arrested or imprisoned abroad has risen in recent years. According to the data released by the Foreign Ministry, 869 Czechs were arrested in 2005, while a year later it was 999. Last year the figure increased to 1093. Czechs are most frequently detained abroad on suspicion of theft, burglary, violent crime or the violation of their residence conditions. Most cases have been reported in Austria, Germany, Poland and Slovakia, which are countries visited by a high number of Czechs.
Prague castle is the most visited tourist destination in the Czech Republic, followed by Prague Zoo and the National Museum. The list has been put together by the state agency CzechTourism. Most of the places in the top ten have reported increased number of visitors in the past year, despite a sharp fall in the overall number of tourists. Six of the ten most popular tourist destinations are in Prague. The list also includes the National Gallery, the Jewish Museum and the zoological garden in Dvůr Králové.
Over 26,000 foreigners have gained Czech citizenship since 2001, according to government data released on Thursday. Two-fifths of those who have received Czech citizenship in the last seven years are from the neighbouring state of Slovakia, while Ukrainians make up the second biggest group. The number of new Czech citizens last year was the lowest since 2001.
Martin Nekola: Czech Chicago and other untold stories of Czechs abroad
Czech President Zeman addresses Council of Europe
How should socialist architecture be treated now?
Czech pre-election battle plugs into war of words over lithium mining deal
Czech ministry mulls massive recruitment of foreign workers to fill jobs