Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has repeated an earlier warning that Russia could deploy missiles in Kaliningrad, near Poland, if the US pushes for a missile defence shield in Europe. He discussed the issue at a press conference at the G-8 Summit in Italy on Friday. Under former president George W. Bush, the US first proposed a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and a missile installation in Poland as part of its planned defence umbrella. The warning by the Russian president comes just days after he met with current US President Barack Obama. At their meeting in Moscow, the two world leaders signed a preliminary agreement on new offensive nuclear weapons cuts. But Russian officials have suggested Moscow will not sign a final agreement unless the US abandons it plans for missile defence.
Star Czech football midfielder Tomáš Rosický, out for 18 months due to injury, is said to be planning to return to action for Arsenal in the autumn. The 28-year-old initially suffered a hamstring injury and was expected to return sooner, but then his knee tendons were also affected - a problem surgery failed to remedy. The player told Sport he could have already begun playing at the end of last season but that he understood why manager Arsene Wenger had opted for caution.
Respected Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas has arrived at the 44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in western Bohemia. On Friday, the actor greeted fans and met briefly with the festival’s president Jiří Bartoška. Mr Banderas is the star of such films as Desperado and Spy Kids. His second film as a director, Summer Rain, will be screened on Friday and Mr Banderas is due to receive an award. Other notables in Karlovy Vary include the famous Czech animator Jan Švankmajer - who will be recognised for his contribution to world cinematography.
Four people were injured in an explosion in a Prague restaurant near Florenc in Prague 8 late on Thursday. All were treated in hospital, three for light injuries; a fourth person, a 62-year-old man, remains in hospital in serious condition. He has been questioned by the police and directly linked to the incident. According to available information, the individual had an historic hand-grenade (dating back to 1968) in his briefcase, which then went off. The item had been tampered with, officials said. Police are continuing to investigate.
Czech football midfielder Jaroslav Plašil on Thursday joined Bordeaux from Spanish club Osasuna in a four-year deal, the French League champions announced. The 27-year-old spent seven years at Monaco and at Creteil before moving to the north Spanish club two years ago. Plašil joins a squad which has been reinforced by the permanent signing of playmaker Gourcuff and the arrival of goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso from Toulouse.
Defence Minister Martin Barták has criticised an article in Lidové noviny on the alleged mothballing of the Czech Army’s remaining 30 tanks, saying on Friday it was speculative and not based on the truth. Earlier the Czech daily reported that the tanks could soon be put into storage due to cuts in spending; modernisation of the T-72M4 tanks requires around 4.5 billion crowns, a source said. The army general staff was reported as saying a final decision on the tanks would be taken in the autumn, once the depths of spending cuts became clear. Although he criticised the article, the defence minister did not completely rule out the tanks could be put into storage.
A group of Czech senators could file a constitutional complaint against the Lisbon treaty – the EU’s reform document – as soon as the first half of August. On Friday, Civic Democrat Senator Jiří Oberfalzer confirmed the move, telling Czech Radio the challenge had the support of 17 senators. If it goes ahead, it will be the second time a complaint has been filed against the treaty in the Czech Republic. Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic’s parliaments have all approved the document but ‘Lisbon’ has not been signed by those countries’ heads of state. President Václav Klaus, who opposes the treaty, has made clear he could be the last to put his signature to paper. The Lisbon treaty must be ratified by all 27 EU states in order to come into effect.
In tennis, the Czech Republic begins its Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Argentina in Ostrava on Friday. Tomáš Berdych faces Juan Monaco. In the second match, Davis Cup captain Jaroslav Navrátil has opted for Ivo Minář to play Juan Martin del Potro. Minář stands in for Radek Štěpánek who is nursing a knee injury. Štěpánek is due to play in Saturday‘s doubles and could take the court for the final singles encounter on Sunday. Minář - who is ranked 64th in the world – has only played Davis Cup tennis for his country once before. Del Potro is ranked in the world top 10.
Discussions on the name and portfolio of the future Czech European commissioner will begin in the summer months, the Foreign Minister Jan Kohout has told journalists. He made the statement on Friday after meeting the chairpersons of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate committees for European and foreign affairs. He said that he respected an agreement by the major parties that they would only announce the name of the Czech Republic's candidate to the European Commission after the country’s early election. Mr Kohout stressed that the process on choosing the next Czech commissioner needed to begin sooner so that a consensus could be reached quickly on a suitable candidate.
Illegal aliens living in the Czech Republic will be able to join a
voluntary return programme as of September 2009, an Interior Ministry
spokeswoman said on Wednesday. Until now, only foreigners with work permits
could apply for such programmes, which provide them with a free plane
ticket home and financial assistance. Illegal aliens will however receive
no subsidies from the state.
In July and August, the Czech Interior Ministry will launch a campaign to inform people about the possibility. Those who apply will face no sanctions for illegally staying in the country. The People in Need NGO estimates that around 300,000 illegal aliens are currently living in the country.