Sales of new passenger cars and light utility vehicles in the Czech Republic sank by 13 percent year-on-year to just over 100, 000 units in the January-July period, the Car Importers Association said on Wednesday. The fall was mainly due to a significantly lower demand from companies, which dropped by a quarter, the association said. Sales of motorcycles also went down by a quarter in the first half of the year.
The Czech health authorities have reported 19 more cases of swine flu in the country since the start of the week, bringing the overall number to 135. The Health Ministry is increasing its stocks of anti-viral drugs and will be acquiring vaccines for 25 percent of the population as the country braces for a possible epidemic in the autumn. Individual regions have been asked to identify high-risk groups of the population.
Although the Social Democratic Party has strongly denied the accusation, the party now appears to have distanced itself from Karel Randák, whom they had originally planned to reinstate as head of the civilian intelligence service if they won the elections. Asked whether it still backed Mr. Randák for the post, a senior party official said on Wednesday that the question of candidates was still open.
Year-on-year inflation in the Czech Republic decreased to some 0.5 percent in July against the previous 1.2 percent figure, mainly due to lower prices of food and gas, the ctk news agency reported on Wednesday. Although the inflation figure is at a record-low analysts are not ruling out a further drop in August. Meanwhile, unemployment grew from 8 percent in June to 8.4 percent in July.
An exhibition devoted to the life and legacy of the 17th century scholar and philosopher Rabi Loew, who according to popular legend created the famous clay monster Golem, opened at Prague Castle on Wednesday marking the 400th anniversary of the rabi’s death. The exhibition, organized by Prague Castle in cooperation with the Jewish Museum in Prague, is devoted both to the rabi’s authentic work and the popular legends associated with his person. The exhibition, comprising some 200 artefacts, also contains interesting information relating to the development of the Prague ghetto and the Jewish cemetery.
The video showing former Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek meeting with Czech lobbyists and entrepreneurs during his recent holiday in Tuscany was allegedly made by former intelligence officer Petr Bakeš, according to the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. The Italian video, along with other pictures and recordings made during Mr. Topolánek’s Italian holiday were leaked to the paper by Mr. Bakes’ former superior, one-time-head of the civilian intelligence service Karel Randák. Mr. Bakes has refused to comment but the paper says his former colleagues recognized his voice on the video recording. The Civic Democrats have accused the Social Democrats of using former intelligence officers to try to discredit them ahead of October’s early general elections.
Sparta Prague failed to keep their hopes alive of playing in the Champions League this season on Tuesday night. The Czech side lost 3:O in the return leg of a pre-qualification match against Greek team Panathinaikos to go down 4:3 on aggregate. The loss continues a series of no-shows in the prestigious competition for Sparta in recent years.
Police have closed the case of a 16-year-old boy who wrote in a school essay that he planned to blow up his school and kill all his classmates after being exposed to bullying. A home search revealed that he had downloaded instructions on how to make explosives but further questioning revealed that he would not have been up to the task and had written the essay as a provocation. The boy was made to undergo psychological tests before being released.
Czechs have handed in close to 8,000 unlicensed weapons within the third gun amnesty in the country’s modern history, the head of the weapons’ department of the police presidium Milan Komárek told journalists on Wednesday. He said that people had handed over pistols, rifles, shotguns and even a heavy machine gun. Under the amnesty, which lasted for six months, people were allowed to hand over unlicensed weapons with no questions asked and may even ask to have them back as long they acquire a gun license for them. Some of the weapons are a legacy from the war years which people said they had found in their attics and failed to register. Under Czech law the punishment for unlicensed weapons can range from a high fine to five years in prison.
The company managing the Czech Republic’s only operational uranium mine has suggested that its deep facilities could be turned into a giant storage facility for natural gas. State mining company Geam has suggested that storage facilities up to one kilometre below ground could be provided at the Dolní Rožinka mine. One condition is that a private company comes up with the required investment, estimated at between 8.0 and 12.0 billion crowns. Geam mining manager Břetislav Sedláček refused to give details of ongoing talks about the project. Dolní Rožinka is the last uranium mine in Central Europe.