The White House has confirmed the date for the signature of a new disarmament treaty by US President Barack Obama and the Russian president, Dimitry Medvedev, that will take place in Prague, the Associated Press reported on Friday. Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev will sign a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty, which will replace the 1991 START accord, on April 8. Later on Friday, President Obama is set to issue a statement regarding details of the treaty, which is expected to cut the number of warheads to roughly 1,500 on each side. On April 5 of last year, Mr Obama outlined his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons in a keynote speech at Prague Castle.
A Czech skier, aged 28, died from injuries sustained in a skiing accident in the French town of Grenoble on Wednesday, local newspapers reported on Friday. She was brought to the Grenoble hospital on Tuesday. The woman was skiing with a group in the French Alps when she had the accident. She was reported to have suffered serious head injuries. Police are investigating the case.
The Supreme Court in Prague has halved the six-year prison sentence of Ludmila Brožová-Polednová based on presidential amnesties given in previous years, the daily Právo has reported. The decision partially confirms the verdict of a district court earlier in the month, which ruled that the former communist prosecutor must be absolved of her sentence in full. Právo writes that she will now have the right to request parole next March, after a third of her sentence has been served; the court has yet to make any statement on the ruling. 88-year-old Ludmila Brožová-Polednová was imprisoned in 2009 for the judicial murder of Milada Horáková, a politician executed by the communist regime in 1950 after a show trial. She is the oldest prisoner in the Czech Republic.
Civic Democratic Party vice-chairman Petr Nečas is to lead the party to May’s general elections, after the head of the party, Mírek Topolánek, resigned as election leader on Thursday. Mr. Topolánek gave in to pressure from the party leadership to take a back-seat following a scandal over unfortunate remarks he made relating to Jews and gays. He remains head of the party, although he has been urged to consider resigning from that post as well. Petr Nečas said he was prepared to work hard to make sure that the Civic Democrats were in “high gear” throughout the election campaign. Regarding any ambition to succeed Mr Topolánek as party leader, he said only that he would at present be concentrating fully on the upcoming elections. Petr Nečas was the minister of labour and social affairs under the previous government, which was led by the Civic Democratic Party. Parliamentary elections are to take place on May 28-29.
A court in Prague has found that the Ministry of the Interior acted illegally when it took DNA samples from thousands of prisoners in 2007. The case in question was brought by a convicted murderer, who was also filing for 300,000 crowns in non-material damages. The Circuit Court of Prague 7 denied the plaintiff compensation, noting that he had once given a DNA sample to the police voluntarily, but cited clear misconduct on the part of the Interior Ministry and the police in requiring and storing the samples. 16,000 DNA samples were taken from prisoners convicted of willful criminal acts in order to expand the National DNA Database used by crime investigators. The Ministry of the Interior maintains that the practice is in accordance with the law and will appeal the decision.
Hanna Schygulla, by some considered the most important actress in contemporary German cinema, accepted the Kristián lifetime achievement award at the Prague film festival Febiofest on Thursday night. The actress, best known for her collaboration with acclaimed German director Reiner Werner Fassbinder, received the award from the minister of culture, Václav Riedlbauch, on the festival’s opening night. The ceremony was followed by a screening of The Marriage of Maria Braun, a film with Mrs. Schygulla in the lead role. Febiofest will run in Prague until April 2 and features 184 films from 57 countries.
Jiří Pospíšil, the head of the Plzen regional branch of the Civic Democrats, said that Mírek Topolánek should resign from his post as chairman of the party as well, after having already resigned from his post as election leader. Mr. Pospíšil said he believes that to win the trust of the public, the head of the party should be its election leader and top candidate. Mr. Pospíšsil said it would be best if the Civic Democrats’ new election leader, Pavel Nečas, were to take up the post.
On the occasion of an EU summit underway in Brussels, the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, informed the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, about Czech concern regarding exceedingly thorough road checks to which Czech drivers are exposed in Germany. More than a hundred Czech drivers have filed complaints against Bavarian road police, claiming that Czechs were singled out for attention and treated in a highly disrespectful manner. Chancellor Merkel promised she would look into the problem and try to seek a solution. Previously, German authorities had dismissed Czech complaints about the thorough road checks that sometimes include full body searches, citing a drop in crime statistics as a reason the controls had to continue.
Police found the dead body of a soldier in the Moravice river in the Silesia region on Friday morning. Colleagues and relatives were able to identify the body thanks to the uniform the soldier was wearing. Police are now investigating possible causes of the man’s death. The soldier, who was 36 years old, went missing in late January, allegedly after he had left his house to go for a walk.
Newly designated archbishop Dominik Duka, who will be inducted into office at a special church service in Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral on April 10, has said he will work to eliminate prejudice against the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic. He added that he wanted to encourage a dialogue between the Church and Czech society, which is sometimes labeled as atheist. Archbishop Duka said he did not yet have any specific projects in mind but was inspired by some open door events and exhibitions in churches across the country and wanted to bring similar happenings to Prague. The Czech Republic is one of the few European countries that does not have an official agreement with the Vatican. The lower house voted against its ratification in 2003.
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