The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, has backed Switzerland in a row with other European countries over Swiss banking secrecy, the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported. Mr Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the presidency of the European Union, said a couple of million euros certainly escaped one tax coffer or another, but he said the country’s independence and the tradition of an autonomous and neutral Switzerland’s had a greater value. Due to the financial crisis France and Germany have proposed new measures against non-cooperative tax centres and have demanded new criteria to determine whether Switzerland should be added to the list, Reuters reported.
The Karamazovs was the big winner at the Czech Republic’s main film awards the Czech Lions on Saturday night. The movie, about the staging of an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, took the prize for best picture, along with best director for Petr Zelenka. In other categories, Karel Roden was named best actor for his role in Guard No. 47, while Zuzana Bydžovská was named best actress for her part in The Country Teacher. Citizen Havel by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek received the best documentary award.
The Czech Republic should buy Gripen fighter planes it is currently leasing after the lease contract expires in 2014, the Czech minister of defence, Vlasta Parkanová, said on a TV debate programme on Sunday. She said the matter ought to be resolved during the lifetime of the current government, but refused to speculate on a possible price for the aircraft. The Gripens, made by Saab and BAE, will be used in a foreign mission for the first time later this year when they guard airspace over the Baltic states. The Czech government had decided to buy 14 of the planes but later leased them due to a budget shortfall in the wake of flooding in 2002.
A man shot dead his former girlfriend, her parents and another man at a family celebration in a restaurant in Petřvald, north Moravia on Saturday night, a police spokesperson said. The assailant then turned his gun on himself and is now in hospital in a serious condition. Police said the man, who is 41 and believed to be from the former Yugoslavia, immediately started shooting as soon as he arrived in the restaurant at around 1 am.
The Czech Republic’s Roman Šebrle has taken the bronze medal at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Turin. Šebrle, who finished first at the last three championships, was 220 points behind the surprise winner Mikk Pahapill of Estonia. The decathlon points world record holder said he not previously noticed Pahapill much, adding that he would have a greater chance against the new European champion when they meet outdoors.
Four rebel members of the Greens were expelled at a meeting of the party’s national council on Sunday. MPs Olga Zubová and Věra Jakubová, former education minister Dana Kuchtová and Martin Čáslavka were thrown out of the smallest party in the governing coalition for setting up a fraction named Democratic Appeal in opposition to chairman Martin Bursík. Party officials said the rebels had overstepped the mark by appearing in public, using the party emblem and setting up their own website.
One of the all-time great Jamaican music groups Toots and the Maytals are due to appear in Prague in May. The band, who began in the ska era of the 1960s and later developed a more reggae style, are best known for hits like 56-46 Was My Number and Funky Kingston and had two songs on the soundtrack of the film The Harder They Come. Toots and the Maytals will play at Lucerna Music Bar on May 13.
The Czech Republic’s men’s tennis team have beaten France to reach the second round of the Davis Cup World Group. Radek Štěpánek secured victory for the Czechs in Ostrava on Sunday, beating Gilles Simon 7-6 6-3 7-6 to make it three matches to one in the best-of-five tie. The home side had been level with the highly rated French after Friday’s singles, but pulled ahead when Štěpánek and Tomáš Berdych beat Michael Llodra and Richard Gasquet in Saturday’s doubles. The Czech Republic will now take on Argentina at home in June for a place in the semi-finals.
The highest level of flood alert is no longer in place on any of the Czech Republic’s rivers. There had been fears that rivers including the Sázava, Dyje, and Jihlava would burst their banks; however, thanks to a drop in both precipitation and temperature water levels have begun to fall. Heavy flooding in the Czech Republic in 1997 and 2002 led to deaths and significant material damage.
The Czech Republic are leading France 2:1 in a Davis Cup World Group first round tie. After a win for Tomáš Berdych and defeat for Radek Štěpánek on Friday, the two overcame Richard Gasquet and Michael Llodra 6-3 1-6 6-4 6-2 in the doubles. One more win from the two singles rubbers on Sunday would see the Czech Republic advance to the second round. France has not lost at this stage of the Davis Cup since 2000.
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