New versions of the Czech national anthem have been created on the initiative of the Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes reported. Four different arrangements of the anthem, entitled Kde domov muj? or Where is My Home? will get their first public airing at Prague’s National Museum on Sunday; September 28 is the day of Czech statehood, a national holiday. In a video address on the government’s website, Mr Topolánek said the new versions of the national anthem were more dignified. They were performed by the orchestra of the National Theatre, conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek.
The Czech secret service BIS says the Russian intelligence service has
attempted to contact and influence politicians and media outlets in the
Czech Republic in order to increase public opposition to a planned US
base. BIS makes the charge in its 2007 annual report, which was posted on
its website on Thursday. The Czech secret service said Russia had tried to
influence over politicians, state agencies and civic groups last year. BIS
also said Russian spies had been gathering information in the business
sphere and supporting Russian financial interests in the Czech Republic.
Reacting to Thursday’s news, the Chamber of Deputies security committee has called a meeting with the directors of the three Czech secret services next week. Committee chairman Jan Vidím said the agencies had not provided such clear information on the subject before.
The Czech Republic has agreed to the building of a US radar base, part of a global anti-missile defence system, in central Bohemia, with Czech lawmakers expected to vote on the matter later this year. Opinion polls have consistently suggested most Czechs are against the radar. Russia has threatened to aim missiles at the Czech Republic if the project goes ahead.
The leading Czech women’s tennis player Nicole Vaidišová has passed her “maturita” school leaving examination. The 19-year-old took the exam at a secondary school focused on economics in Prague. Her best result was a “one” in English. Vaidišová was ranked seventh in the world in May last year, though since then she has experienced something of a career down-turn.
Two far-right extremists have received jail terms for creating a neo-Nazi website. A court in Havlíčkův Brod sentenced Erik Sedláček to three years and Libor Budík to two years for running a site named Final Generation which called for the killing of Jews and denied the Holocaust. Mr Sedláček, who is on the Workers Party ticket for regional elections in mid-October, has appealed the verdict.
The Czech banking and financial sector is in good health because it is has little connection with the products which have led to an avalanche of problems in the United States, the governor of the Czech National Bank, Zdeněk Tůma, said on Thursday. He said for that reason the impact of the global financial crisis on the Czech economy had been minimal and the central bank had no plans to take action. The Czech National Bank announced on Thursday it was, as expected, keeping the key interest rate at 3.5 percent.
The Czech Olympic champion Kateřina Emmons is taking a year’s break from competition. Emmons, whose gold in the 10m air rifle was the first medal awarded in Beijing, said she had decided before the games not to compete next year. The 24-year-old said she had already locked her guns away and did not miss them at all. Kateřina Emmons, who also took a silver medal in Beijing, is married to the American rifle shooter Matt Emmons.
Former Czech prime minister Miloš Zeman says he is returning to public life, but not to politics. Mr Zeman said the difference between the two was that he was not seeking political office. He made the comments in Prague at the opening of the headquarters of a recently formed association named The Friends of Miloš Zeman. A representative said it had around 1,000 members. Despite Mr Zeman’s claim to have no interest in a political post, his close associate Miroslav Šlouf said the association aimed to help the former Social Democrats leader become president, a position he failed to win five years ago. Miloš Zeman was prime minister from 1998 to 2002.
Elsewhere in its 2007 annual report, BIS said mafia groups were using contacts with state authorities, the police, the judiciary and politicians to launder money. The most active gangs involved in this kind of corruption were from Russia, the Caucuses and the Balkans, the report said. The groups have ties to the Czech underworld, as well as specialists such as lawyers and various kinds of advisors. BIS said they were also providing financial backing to some Czech university students in fields which would later lead to jobs in the state administration or the security services.
A Chinese delegation visiting the Czech lower house walked out in protest on Thursday after Green Party MPs unfurled a Tibetan flag. Green MP Kateřina Jacques said the Chamber of Deputies had passed a resolution in April saying its representatives should raise the subject of human rights during any contact with Chinese officials, and unfurling the flag was in line with that resolution. Some members of the opposition Social Democrats and Communists criticised the gesture.
Josef Souček, a major-general who fought against the Nazis on the Western Front has died in Brazil, aged 91. Mr Souček was born in 1917 in Salzburg, Austria and moved to Czechoslovakia shortly after its founding a year later. In 1940, he fled to France, where he joined Czech forces in exile fighting against the Nazis, eventually moving to Britain and ending the war fighting in Dunkerque. Josef Souček was awarded for his gallantry after the war ended, although after the 1948 communist putsch, he emigrated to Britain before moving to Brazil. He was decorated numerous times for his service in Czechoslovakia, France, Britain and Brazil.
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