The Czech U-21 national football squad has lost top spot in Group 2 after losing 2:0 to Turkey on Saturday, complicating qualification for the U-21 European Championship next year. The Czechs will need a win in their final match against Ukraine on Tuesday to keep their hopes alive for advancing the tournament’s final stage.
Elsewhere, in the west of the country, near Sokolov, police have been investigating a hit-and-run which left a motorcyclist dead on Saturday. He was struck down by a silver Mazda, which then escaped the scene. Police found evidence of silver paint on the bike, and have reason to believe the vehicle which hit the motorcyclist was stolen. The man killed was estimated as in his 50s.
Deputy Prime Minister and Green Party head Martin Bursík has told public
broadcaster Czech TV that during the upcoming EU presidency the Czech
government and the country’s president should aim at unifying their
stance on foreign policy issues. The politician also expressed the opinion
that it would be better if the prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, and not
the president, Václav Klaus, chaired European counsels at summits between
the EU and Russia or the EU and the United States during that period.
His comments on Czech TV were made over apparent concern the Czech president might use the opportunity to push independently-held views not in line with the government’s. Prague Castle has not commented as Mr Klaus is currently abroad. The Czech government and President Klaus most recently found themselves at odds over the conflict in Georgia. The government backed Georgia last month while Mr Klaus blamed the country for escalating the conflict with Russia.
Karel Bruckner, the coach of Austria’s national football squad, has been hailed a hero in Austria after the team defeated France on Saturday in their opening World Cup qualifier. Austria stunned the French 3:1 on goals from Janko, Aufhauser, and Ivanschitz on the night. Karel Bruckner, who in the past successfully coached the Czechs to a number of tournaments, made clear he was keeping his feet firmly on the ground. While admitting he was pleased, he told journalists it was “still only three points”, making clear the team needed a good deal more to qualify.
Police are searching for a suspect in a shooting in the area of Děčín, north Bohemia. The shooting took place on Friday on a Děčín street; the target was a 55-year-old man. He remains in serious condition but his injuries are reportedly no longer life-threatening. The suspect is believed to be a 57-year-old Czech national who escaped the scene in a Volkswagen Passat. Police have appealed for anyone with possible information related to the case to come forward.
Green Party member and former education minister Dana Kuchtová has failed in her bid to replace Martin Bursík as the Green Party’s leader. Early Saturday evening a majority of delegates at the Green Party’s congress in Teplice, gave Mr Bursík 227 votes to Mrs Kuchtová’s 109. Dana Kuchtová subsequently failed in her bid for deputy chairwoman, defeated by close Bursík ally, Ondřej Liška, the current education minister. Other deputies elected on the night were Kateřina Jacques and Martin Ander. The results of the vote are expected to quell division within the Green Party only slightly: according to analysts, members of the party remain divided on a number of issues. These include plans for a US radar base on Czech territory and ongoing reforms in healthcare.
A study by the World Bank has revealed that the Czech Republic has one of the most time-demanding tax systems in the world, ranking the country 10th from the bottom on a list of 178. According to the study, called Paying Taxes 2008, Czech firms spend 930 hours annually filling in tax declarations. Nigeria, Vietnam, Ukraine, and Brazil were also among those that fared the worst. The list was topped by the Maldives.
Martin Bursík, the head of the Green Party, will continue in his post as party leader. Early Saturday evening Mr Bursík was backed by a majority of delegates, defeating the former education minister Dana Kuchtová, his closest challenger. He was backed by roughly two-thirds of delegates, 227 votes, while Mrs Kuchtová received 109. Mr Bursík and Mrs Kuchtová and their supporters have been at odds over the course the party should take in the future: Mr Bursík, a moderate, had been criticised by a wing within the party for his positive stance on a US radar base proposal, as well as at odds with Mrs Kuchtová on other issues, such as nuclear energy. Saturday will also see the election of new deputy heads as well as discussion on proposed changes to the party’s organisation. Dana Kuchtová has already confirmed she will run for the post of first deputy leader.
A fire near Tachov close to the Czech-German border destroyed some 2,500 birds at a local pheasantry in the early hours of Saturday morning. Damages have been estimated at two million crowns. Police have not ruled out arson or technical malfunction as possible causes. Fire fighters were able to save roughly half of the animals in the building.
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