In response to a recent outbreak of Hepatitis A in Prague and central Bohemia, the Central Bohemian region has decided to vaccinate the region’s first graders against the disease. The vaccination of some 5,500 first-grade schoolchildren will be free and voluntary; the children’s parents will be asked for consent. Several cases of Hepatitis A have recently been registered in schools in and around Prague.
Phone conversations recorded by the police in 2001 suggest that Civic Democrat MP and critic of the party’s leadership Vlastimil Tlustý was on the payroll of organized crime, the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. The unofficial head of Czech organized crime, František Mrázek, talked to one of his aides about paying Mr Tlustý 3 million crowns. Vlastimil Tlustý has denied any contacts with Mr Mrázek, who was murdered in 2006. He has however consistently refused to identify the lender of some 2.3 million crowns, or nearly 140,000 US dollars, which he used to build his house.
The Orange Express, an American truck used by the opposition Social Democrats in their campaign ahead of the local and Senate elections, is too long for Czech roads, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Thursday. The Kenworth 18-wheeler is over 19 metres long while Czech law only allows vehicles of up to 16.5 metres on the road without a special permit. The Transport Ministry however immediately issued an oversize licence for the Orange Express.
Prague City Hall approved on Thursday the extension of the city’s metro to Ruzyně airport. The new route of the A line from Dejvická to Ruzyně will be 13 kilometres long and have 9 new stations along the way. Costs are estimated at some 20 billion crowns, or more than 1.2 billion US dollars. Construction is to begin next year and the extension is to be completed by 2018.
During its EU presidency in the first half of 2009, the Czech Republic will be responsible for negotiating Croatia’s entry, Cyprus’ re-unification and Serbia’s candidacy, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said in Prague on Thursday. Mr Rehn said that the ongoing negotiations with Croatia are going well but some of the key issues of the country’s accession to the EU may have to be resolved during the Czech presidency. EU candidacy could possibly be offered to Serbia during the Czech term, and Czech politicians might also take part in resolving the issue of divided Cyprus.
The Czech Senate has approved an amendment to the employment act which will allow foreigners to apply for ‘green cards’. The new document will incorporate work and stay permits, and will be issued at Czech embassies in countries approved by the Interior Ministry. Citizens of these countries will be able to apply for jobs in the Czech Republic which had not been filled by Czech or EU nationals within 30 days. The amendment will also tighten conditions for unemployment benefits. If the president approves the amendment, it will enter into force on January 1, 2009.
A recent poll carried out by the Stem agency suggests that 42 percent of Czechs side with Georgia on the South Ossetian conflict while 19 percent support Russia. 39 percent of Czechs do not support either of the conflicting countries. The survey also shows that while voters of the Communist Party tend to support Russia in the conflict, supporters of all the other Czech parliamentary parties favour Georgia.
An international conference on the Prague-born, German-speaking writer Franz Kafka will take place in Liblice, outside Prague, in October. The event will be held at the same venue as the historic Kafka conference which was held in 1963. The conference re-discovered Kafka’s work and paved the way for the Prague Spring of 1968. The theme of this year’s conference will be Kafka and Power; scholars will examine to what extent Kafka’s texts themselves go against repression and to what extent they helped spark opposition to the totalitarian regime.
Around 70 people gathered near the Indian embassy in Prague on Thursday to demand the release of Emil Kučera, a Czech entomologist jailed in India for gathering rare insects. Mr Kučera, together with another scientist, Petr Švácha, was arrested in June in the north-east of India on for breaking an environment protection act; while Mr Švácha was later released, Mr Kučera was sentenced to three years in jail. Another protest took place outside the Indian embassy in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
A group of some 20 youngsters attacked part of the official Sparta Prague entourage in Zagreb on Wednesday, ahead of a first round UEFA game between Sparta and Dinamo Zagreb. The attack took place at around midnight in the Croatian capital after eight members of the Sparta entourage went out after dinner. None of the victims was seriously injured.